Malice Book Review

Title: Malice
Author: John Gwynne
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Published: 2012
Pages: 628
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Rating: 8/10

“History is of value. If more of us took heed of the mistakes of the past, the future could be a different thing.”

In Malice, Gwynne sets up the dominoes to continue The Faithful and the Fallen series by introducing multiple characters, locations, and conflicts. We follow the main character, Corban, in his coming-of-age story as he figures out his place in the world. From the very beginning of this multi-POV book, the author grabs your attention with epic action scenes, magic, and powerful artifacts. John Gwynne is a combination of Joe Abercrombie and George R.R. Martin and I’m excited to continue with what I’m sure will be a phenomenal series. 

Pros:
Character variety
Malice introduces a wide variety of characters for you to love and hate. From the veteran warrior turned mentor to the rebellious princess and from the sarcastic healer with a soft spot to the submissive giant, you’re sure to find someone to care about. And while this is a story of good vs. evil, it is rarely that simple to put these imperfect characters into one or the other.

Writing style
Gwynne immediately captured my attention with the first scene in the book. He brilliantly incorporates plenty of fantasy tropes including… good vs. evil, the chosen one, the mentor, European medieval setting, powerful artifacts, and the waiting evil. Fair warning… don’t get too attached to any of the characters because Gwynne is not afraid to kill off main characters. 

Action scenes
Going along with his writing style, Gwynne is in my top three list of authors for his ability to write action scenes. From one-off skirmishes to epic battles, he has just the right amount of detail. You can picture the action perfectly in your mind without the scene being too grimdark or overly brutal. 

Cons:
Overwhelming amount to remember
This is a typical issue I have with the first book in a series. The author has so much to introduce and develop that it quickly becomes overwhelming. Malice is the start of an epic fantasy series and there are multiple kingdoms, characters, locations, political issues, and conflicts to keep up with. Gwynne does provide a character list at the start of Valor, the second book in the series. 

Little explanation of the magic system
This was a bigger issue for me… Gwynne does not provide much of an explanation for the magic system. There’s little detail about where it comes from and how it works. Because of the lack of info, the magic system doesn’t make much sense. I’m hoping that the next book in the series provides more context. 

Overall…
I thoroughly enjoyed Malice and highly recommend it. If you like Joe Abercrombie and George R.R. Martin or if you’re looking for epic fantasy, I think you’ll love The Faithful and the Fallen. 

Published by Caroline

Avid reader, board gamer, yogi, and photographer.

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