February 4, 2014 Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Malice four-stars
on 12/06/2012
Pages: 672
Format: eARC

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A black sun is rising …

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.

High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review by Travis Starnes

In Malice an old prophecy seems to becoming true as signs and portents begin appearing across the land.  The kingdoms of the Banished Lands must deal with old feuds while preparing for the return of violence from their past.

This is a straight up fantasy novel more in the swords and sorcery linage like was found in the Arthurian legends rather than the Tolkien version of the genre.  Magic clearly has a place in the world and there are many fantastic creatures, most notably giants, but the world is closer to a medieval feudal world then one where you would find orcs and wizards.

Having finished this book I really did enjoy it but I found the first half to be a harder read.  Half way through the book, I was sure if I was enjoying reading it or not.  By the end I had no doubt however.  The big issue with this book is it was highly unfocused for a long time.  You would follow one character for a while and when you started becoming invested in what was happening with that character the author would switch to following a different character.  At one point the reader has to track half a dozen different characters, several without a clear indication of how they are fitting into the slowing expanding overarching plotting.  Worse than that are the characters that you follow for a short while that then drop out of the book.  It can become frustrating early on trying to get ahold of the actual plot as the viewpoints keep shifting.  However towards the end of the book when the story starts locking in with less pointless side plots it becomes a fast and enjoyable read.

Gwynne is a very talented writer, does dialogue expertly and has a good sense for how to write characters.  This is the biggest strength of the book as well as its biggest problem for me.  If he wasn’t so skilled at writing characters the jumping from one to another would certainly be less annoying.  That being said the handfuls of characters that are ultimately important to the plot are completely fascinating and enjoyable to read about.

I also enjoyed how he explored the subtle nature of evil.  How the most deadly form of evil comes in the form of someone believing they are doing right.

While the first half of this book is a little thought to struggle through, hang in with it.  Once you get to the second half the book reads very fast and is engrossing.  Having finished it my only real complaint is that it ends on a cliffhanger and I am forced to wait for the next book in the series.

How Does Malice by John Gwynne End?
Rating Report
Overall: 4.2

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