Malice and Valor — 2016 Reading Challenge

Okay, so I previously said that I was going to read Malice by John Gwynne for “A book that’s more than 600 pages.” I’ve changed my mind. Because before I actually got around to writing this review, I had finished reading the sequel, Valor. Since I doubt that I’d be able to do Malice justice with Valor so fresh in my mind, the category here is going to be “A book and its prequel”.

First off… wow!

Now, when I first sat down to read Malice, I had a hard time getting into it. It started with a 4 page prologue, followed by a 2 1/4 page excerpt, then followed by a chapter from the main character’s point of view, and then Chapter 2 being a second main character’s POV…

Four POV changes in 28 pages… Every chapter is from a different character’s POV, and said characters are often in completely different geographical areas.

For about the first 150 pages of the book, I honestly struggled with the rapid POV changes (some chapters are only a few pages long and at least one was only half a page!) and I had a very difficult time telling where we were and who we were following at any given chapter.

Then, suddenly, that changed. I don’t know if I just had a better handle on the characters, or if the pacing changed just enough, but I then found I couldn’t put the book down. The POV changes went from being annoying to adding to the tension building in the book.

It’s hard to nail down a solid main protagonist in Malice, at first. It kinda bounces evenly between Corban, Evnis, and Veradis, but Kastell and Cywen have a pretty decent chunk of POV for them, with a few other characters giving POV cameos. Eventually, you see that a lot of the story revolves around Corban, a teenage blacksmith’s son who dreams of being a warrior and Veradis, the youngest son of a baron who pledges his sword and his life to a prince. Even though the excerpt in the beginning gives you a hint of the major conflict of the book, a war between the creator and his fallen angel, that almost gets lost in Corban’s struggles with local bullies and Veradis protecting his prince and struggling with what is ‘the greater good’. As things progress, and giants attack and the brave begin to fall, you begin to see how it all plays together.

Personally, I think it was masterfully done.

Valor was much easier to get into and it kept the pacing well. The stakes were higher in the second book, and now the characters felt like old friends. The POV’s varied a bit, following other characters more regularly and some who never had a single POV in Malice suddenly found themselves vying for the main character spotlight.

The books have a bit of a Game of Thrones feel to them, without the language and sex (which greatly improved my opinion of them!). The characters are well built once you can keep track of who’s who. You cheer for the heroes and want to cry out for those who get tricked into the wrong side and don’t seem to realized what has happened.

I hope to pick up the third book in The Faithful And The Fallen series soon (and maybe take care of that 600 word category), but unfortunately, the library only appears to have the second book and not the first or third. The fourth book is due out sometime in 2016, so I may just have to bite the bullet and purchase the rest of the series.

It was good enough that I wouldn’t mind owning the whole thing anyway.

Unless I get Ruin by John Gwynne sometime in the next few days, I’ll be reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne as “A book at least 100 years older than you.”

What did you read this week? Let me know in the comments below.

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