Malice by John Gwynne
Review by: Michael Evan
Malice was a fantastic read. An excellent debut novel from one of my favorite authors in the fantasy genre. One of the things that I like the most about Gwynne’s writing is that it is so character driven. Even with its relatively large cast of characters, I felt like Corban, Varadis, Kastell, and Nathair’s stories were really fleshed out nicely to the point that I knew them by the end.
While there are definitely characters whose loyalties are hard to figure out and the “heroes” can have shades of grey, Gwynne’s “Good guys” stand out more than someone like GRRM, and the story is essentially a good vs evil tale full of epic battles, God wars etc. Gwynne also really focuses on the importance of family and friendship and the book has a strong moral core which is refreshing considering how many books in this genre focus on anti-heroes lacking in morality.
While there are definitely fantasy elements such as the aforementioned war of the Gods, the presence of giants and other races , and swords and sorcery, the book doesn’t emphasize a “hard magic system” like Mistborn, Lightbringer, Powder Mage etc., which also makes it stand out among current fantasy series.
John Gwynne mentions in interviews that he started writing this for his kids, and while it can definitely be gory, the battle scenes are told tastefully and they don’t go for gross out shock value. There is also a lack of profanity which is becoming more rare in the genre.
I’d strongly recommend Malice, and the entire “Faithful and the Fallen” series to anyone that loves classic fantasy and even to those that love historical fiction by the likes of Bernard Cornwell, Christian Cameron and Ken Follett.