Malice, the first book in The Faitful and the Fallen series was an entertaining debut to a new series. Valor picks up mere moments after the last novel as Corban, Edana, and the handful who escaped the taking of Dun Carreg make their getaway. As in Malice, Gwynne walks a nice middle ground with his prose. There is a darkness to Valor, with the odds stacked against the heroes and with the people (at least some of them) firmly on the “villainous” side of things not necessary villains themselves. There is violence in the novel but nothing over-the-top though Valor delves a bit further into murky waters when it comes to sexuality; a fact I’ll touch on later. By and large this is an excellent continuation of the series managing a brisk pace while simultaneously deepening the lore of the world that Gwynne has created.
Malice is a debut novel from John Gwynne that travels a more traditional path than many novels in recent years. It’s a debut fantasy that reminds me very much of lazy summer days as a teen barricaded in my parent’s air conditioned home while pouring over the latest dictionary sized fantasy novel. Malice, in a way similar to Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, is a novel that seems written to bridge the gap between teens and adults. As a result Malice’s prose walks a middle ground as it tries to appeal to both teens and adults. Much of Malice is about set up as Gwynne details the signs and portents of a world teetering on the edge of a great (and mysterious) conflict. Ancient stone alters bleed and strange creatures stir in the dark places of the world. It actually takes a bit of time before a prophecy is revealed predicting an ancient struggle between the force of light, lead by the Bright Star, and the forces of darkness, lead by the Black Sun. Thrown into the mix of two diametrically opposed prophesied individuals are a number of magical objects, crafted in ancient times, which will be sought after by the Dark Sun and his forces.