Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen #1) ★★☆☆½

malice (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Malice
Series: The Faithful and the Fallen #1
Author: John Gwynne
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 641
Format: Digital Edition



A thousand years ago there was a god-war between the Creator and his highest created being, Asroth. Asroth and his allies came to the physical world to destroy what they could. In the god-war Asroth and his minions were banished to the realm of the spirit. Not content to exist, Asroth sent a star from heaven to the earth from which both giants and men fashioned items. Being from Asroth, such items corrupted their bearers. Eventually, giant warred against giant and man against man and each against the other. The Creator finally had enough and sent a cataclysm that destroyed much of the world.

The remnant of humanity that survived washed up on the shores of the Banished Lands and started the 7 kingdoms. Now, 1000 years later, a prophecy is found that foretells of another god-war in which the Creator will have his champion of Light and Asroth his Dark Champion. It also reveals that Asroth will try to return to the physical realm to completely destroy it to simply spite the Creator.

One of the Princes’ of the land is convinced he is the Champion of Light and determines to unite the various kingdoms into an Empire, the better to fight Asroth. We also follow a young village boy who is growing up and his challenges as he works toward becoming a warrior.

Eventually the Prince murders his father, attacks the giants and takes one of the objects of power and the readers realize, even while the Prince does not, that he is the Dark Champion. The young boy saves a small company from treachery by the Prince and it is obvious that he is the Champion of Light.


My Thoughts:

This book went all over the place in terms of rating from me. I enjoyed parts tremendously and would think “Oh, 4 stars easily” then I’d consider dnf’ing and at other points I thought “Not even Robert Jordan and Sanderson were this arrogant in their books”. So this might turn into something a bit longer than I intended.

I deliberately cut the synopsis down to it’s absolute minimum because Gwynne doesn’t. Gwynne makes things as complicated as possible in several ways. First off, he introduces over 35 named characters within the first 10% of the book. I counted and listed them on Librarything because it was NEVER obvious who was a main character and who was just somebody that Gwynne gave a name and backstory to. The second part of the complication was Gwynne’s shifting of Point of View every chapter. Sometimes a chapter would be 2 pages and at others 20. But it was always from somebody else than the previous POV. Finally, Gwynne had no problem with world building. He’d give as much character time to some one who we’d never see again as to some of the more central characters.

I found all of these authorial choices frustrating and incredibly anger inducing. The thread of the story was obscured by all the loose ends and dead ends, etc. I WILL NOT pay attention to 45 characters (that was my rough count by the end of the book) just because the author wants to be clever. It was overwhelming and even now, writing this, I’m getting steamed all over again. Even the Malazan books were easier to keep track of than this and that is not any sort of praise if you’ve read my Malazan Re-read reviews. I felt like I was juggling 45 balls never knowing which one had the live grenade inside that I needed to pay attention to. Juggling 45 live grenades is very stress inducing, let me tell you! I also felt like Gwynne was wasting my time as this book was almost 700 pages. Why did I need to know about Jack the boy farmer and his whole family when he dies 3 chapters later? It just came across as the author telling me that every idea he had was more important than the time I was spending on reading about them.

On the positive side, I absolutely loved the story. Two Chosen Ones is awesome. It is obvious to the reader that the Prince is the dark champion but to those around the Prince it seems like he truly is the Champion of Light. He is trying to unite the humans, comes up with new fighting tactics, achieves goals no one thought possible and wants to protect the land from Asroth. Knowing that Asroth is the arch-deceiver, it is no surprise that no one thinks they’re the bad guy. I like Epic Fantasy and this is definitely Epic Fantasy. The politics going on between the kingdoms is great and adds a real depth to the story too.

A few final negative thoughts though. I’d been warned that Gwynne takes his time and that reviewer wasn’t kidding. This meanders, but once again that is a product of Gwynne placing world building above all else. Secondly, this book doesn’t have a beginning, middle and end plot point. There is no goal. Even Robert Jordan and his first Wheel of Time book, The Eye of the World, told a complete story. This was just 1/4th of a story artificially cut into a separate book.

I do plan on reading the next book. I am desperately hoping that there is not another list of 40 new characters to juggle. If there is, then I’ll be parting ways from Gwynne after that. All of the before mentioned issues might not bother you, but they bother me immensely.



bookstooge (Custom)


34 thoughts on “Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen #1) ★★☆☆½

    1. The real test of the series will be the next book. Does he stick with the established characters or introduce more? That’ll be the make it or break it point.

      Whoever did the cover design was definitely going for that Epic Fantasy vibe and I’d say they got it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 5 is about my upper limit without writing them all down. And that is on a good day. 3 is a bit more realistic. I’m just thankful for Librarything, as they have a thing called “Common Knowledge” where anyone can enter in data for a book like characters and places, etc. It has saved my bacon on quite a few occasions!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This one has been on my bookshelf waiting to be read for a while. One reason for the delay is the commitment.

    One thing I’ve noticed about some newer epic fantasies in relation to WoT: WoT gets VERY complicated with a sprawling story and tons of POV characters (and non-POV characters). But it takes it a while to get there. tEotW does tell a complete story, and it keeps it a tight, relatively straightforward story, kicking complications to later books. A lot of newer books, though, throw the reader straight into the deep end.

    I’m leery of doorstoppers like that, not because it isn’t the sort of thing I like, but because I read a lot of other fantasy books and because my reading time is limited. I appreciate older, short and punchy works these days for that reason.

    Malice might be a summer read for me once things slow down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My first thought was comparing this to EotW too. And this comes up short in every single way.

      I don’t know if it is authorial arrogance or just me really reacting, but to expect your readers to ENJOY this much complication, just for complications sake, seems like a bad writing habit just waiting to happen. Even the Malazan books gave you several chapters from each viewpoint so you had enough time to think of them as separate characters. Here, Gwynne just drowns me in 5 pages here and there.

      I’m not quite at the same point as you in regards to doorstoppers, BUT, I am no longer reading them until the whole “trilogy, series, whatever” is finished. My time is precious and I’m starting to hold authors to that standard as much as how much I enjoyed the book.

      Thing is, if you read Malice, you’re going to have to commit to the whole tetralogy, at least if you want a finished story 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The one thing about Battle Royale is that the author makes it obvious who you are following and you know right from the start that everyone else is fodder. Still not a book I recommend though, it is just gratuitous 😦


  2. Probably my “training” with A Song of Ice and Fire helped a great deal with keeping track of characters, so I did not mind the… crowded stage that Gwynne presents here, and the fact that the story completely fascinated me was helpful as well. And having tried (endured?) Jordan’s saga for the first three books, in my opinion Gwynne’s storytelling style looks positively streamlined 😀 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. See, the thing with Jordan is that he started with a small core group and gave you a whole book to get to know them THEN things got big. Also, you knew who the main characters in WoT were, there was no doubt.
      Gwynne just makes authorial choices that rub me the wrong way, at least for a first book. We’ll see how the rest of the tetralogy goes though.

      It is funny that several people have mentioned WoT because I’ve got a re-read coming up of the whole series soon.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Correct. I started reading them when book 6 came out and then read them as they came out. The first 6 books I’ve read like 3 times, as I’d forget a lot between waits. I did re-read The Eye of the World just a couple of years ago and I found it as fantastic as the first time I read it 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read this, though I do plan on one day going back once I’m done his new series (which I believe is set in the same world). Hopefully the huge cast of characters won’t bother me too much, it’s generally not a problem for me if they’re written well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Im dealing with the third horus heresy book now. Also a lot of names in here, but they at least did me the curtecy of putting in a who’s who at the front so i can flip back for quick refrence

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Maddalena has already whetted my appetite for this series, and I’m intrigued by your mention of the Prince clearly being the dark chosen one, but people thinking he’s the light chosen one … that sounds really interesting. Maybe I’ll hang on and see what you think of book 2 before I start reading this though … just in case … 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, I would highly recommend waiting just to see if the same things that bothered me in this book are present in the second.

      Gwynne uses a LOT of Christian imagery and Satan masquerading as an angel of light and deceiving people into thinking he’s good is straight from the Bible.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brilliant review! I found this so reassuring- partly cos I did dnf this one years ago and partly cos I’ve been meaning to give it another go for a while. It’s really good to know that I wasn’t just imagining how overcomplicated this was (all the glowing reviews made me think it was all in my head) but also happy to hear it ended up being enjoyable- it definitely gives me hope for my second attempt!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Do you plan on giving the sequel a shot or was it too much on your conscience to keep track of all those characters? Would you feel like you “wasted” you time if you didn’t go on and finish the series and picked up his other series as well? I also loved that ball-juggling-live-grenade analogy. Pretty cool way to see it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll definitely be reading book 2 and would like to read the rest of the series. However, I doubt I’ll be reading anything past this tetralogy.

      Not a waste of time so much, as it allows me to weed out another author but if I were to force myself to finish the series, then I’d feel like it was wasted time. I have no problems dropping plots any more. I just don’t care enough 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you.

    Because of what you mentioned – the amount of characters, the meandering (or for me it seemed: non-existent or confusing) storyline, I dnf it. Didn’t get the hype. I couldn’t keep track and not one character clicked with me. They all felt irrelevant

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to admit, I don’t get the hype either. Maybe if he’d been 20 years earlier and we hadn’t already seen Jordan, Sanderson and Martin then I could understand the excitement. But now, he’s just one more tome writer among many…


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