Author: John Gwynne
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.40
“Sometimes it’s not about the winning, Con. It’s about how you lose.”
In Valor, Gwynne continues to build upon the foundation set in Malice. As war approaches, the world becomes more brutal, harsh, and deadly. Gone are the naive, innocent days of Corban’s childhood as he is thrust into a cold, cruel world of death and torture. Through all of the struggle and uncertainty, Corban is surrounded by loyalty, love, and determination that guide him on his journey to accept and embrace his destiny as the chosen one.
Each page, chapter, and POV help to move the story along. Gwynne wastes no time diving into the story and his short, action-packed chapters also help to keep the story moving. Prepare yourself because this book moves at a rapid pace with multiple POVs and it’s a lot to keep up with. On top of the pace of the story, Gwynne does an amazing job writing the action scenes from epic battles to unexpected skirmishes. Like Brandon Sanderson, Gwynne fully utilizes the last hundred pages to build up to an epic ending.
In Malice, Gwynne introduces quite a few elements with little backstory and detail. In Valor, we start to get some clarification on the magic system and history of the world. Certain characters including Brina and Meical are especially helpful in this effort. The explanations also help to show the limitations of the magic system that keep it from being overpowered.
Gwynne does an amazing job writing a variety of imperfect, relatable characters. The overarching story is about good versus evil… and the characters are starting to split into one camp or the other as they grapple with who they are versus who they need to be. Asroth said it perfectly when he told Corban, “You humans are all the same. Willing to live a lie, any lie, as long as it is prettier than the truth.”
A lot to keep up with
You know you’re dealing with an epic fantasy book when you bring out the notebook. Valor had me taking notes to keep up with characters, events, and issues. Right when you get a handle on all that is introduced in Malice, Gwynne introduces you to a host of new characters and issues in Valor.
Things to Consider:
More grimdark than Malice
Fair warning… prepare to indirectly read about torture and rape. Gwynne does not go into detail or write about these topics as they’re happening. But he will let you know that someone will be raped or has been tortured and you experience it moments before or moments after it’s happened.
I absolutely loved Valor. If you like Joe Abercrombie and George R.R. Martin, I think you’ll love The Faithful and the Fallen. It has been a truly epic fantasy and I’m excited to see what happens in Ruin.