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Review: Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen Book 1) by John Gwynne

I heard about ‘Malice’ from John Jarrold – he let me know that this novel was the closest thing he’d ever read to A Song of Ice and Fire, so I was intently interested as soon as I heard that. Being a massive fan of Mr. Martin, I thought the claim was bold and perhaps a bit too much, but considering John Jarrold’s stature in Genre Fiction I knew that he hadn’t meant it literally. So I managed to secure an ARC for myself through Julie Crisp and Laura Hammond, and settled in to read it.

I agree with John – Malice (the first book in The Faithful and the Fallen) is definitely an epic that fans of A Song of Ice and Fire will enjoy!

The Banished Lands has been witness to war (between humankind, giant-kind and vastly powerful supernatural entities) of such ferocity that even the principal creator-god of human- and giant-kind has turned his back on his creations. Humans are spread across The Banished Lands, living uneasily with each other and constantly defending against attacks and raids by the remaining giants, who were once united but are now fractured into various clans. Among the humans and giants, forces are at work that seek to tip the difficult peace into all-out war, and when the novel opens, various characters find themselves at the beginning of journeys that will force them to choose sides in the conflict.

We meet Corban, not yet a man, struggling against bullies, terrified of his anger, and keenly sensitive; his sister, Cywen, apprenticed to a stable-master; the stable-master himself; Veradis, brother to a respected and valued warrior and son to a very difficult man; Evnis, advisor to King Brenin; Kastell, whose family was killed by giants; Nathair, a prince who keenly feels the weight of his destiny – and plenty of others, connected or not.

The first strength of the book is the easy-to-read writing style – John keeps things simple, giving out information about the characters and the world in a way that doesn’t bog down the narrative, and even keeps the chapters short and sharp, titling these chapters with character-names so that the reader knows who he’ll be reading about next.

The book’s world-building is also top-notch, in the sense that the detail and history of it grows and deepens chapter by chapter – the prologue sets the scene in terms of the encompassing conflict, and gains flavour and texture as the book continues.

Magic-wise, this novel doesn’t have much to offer, neither in the use of the explanation of it, and it’s the only issue I have – it seems to me that the book could still stand strongly without magic; but that also leaves me with the hope that we get to see more and understand more about John’s particular brand of magic in the next book.

Character-wise, ‘Malice’ is truly top-shelf – John writes them with a deep understanding and empathy, so that even the ‘bad’ guys don’t seem so bad, and the good guys have their own failings and troubles. My favourite character was Veradis – doing what he believes to be right and true even as he gets pulled deeper onto one side of the conflict. The same can be said of Nathair, and I hope we get view-point chapters of Nathair in book 2. Corban, the novel’s central character, showed plenty of believable growth in the novel, though I’m hoping for much more ‘tempering’ for him in the next book – he goes through a lot, but doesn’t ever seem to really be in danger.

Comparing this novel to what we’ve experienced in A Song of Ice and Fire is slightly unfair but entirely warranted – it’s a novel that focuses on the characters, their motivations, their inner-most thoughts and experiences, with the world brought in to give us the sense of ‘place’ and ‘time’ to ground them. The characters react realistically, making believable choices (whether those choices fall on one side of the fence or the other), and as such it’s Epic Fantasy that readers of A Song of Ice and Fire will enjoy.

There’s plenty of action (human versus giant, human vs human), plenty of cool surprises, and places where I had to stop reading to digest what had happened – mostly because I felt that I knew the characters and had to agonize over some of their choices, which means I cared about them. 🙂 This is where the novel’s strength shines through – the characters and their interactions with each other. Some of the action scenes feature creatures who seem a bit too easy to defeat, or the presence is predictable, but the characters carry the novel through.

All things considered, this is an excellent debut, showing that John has an eye and heart for characters; the world should continue to evolve and broaden in the next book, and I can see a massive confrontation on the horizon, with both sides believing without a doubt that they are both right, or doing the right thing. Definitely recommended – a promising start to what should be an excellent Epic Fantasy series!

7 / 10

Malice

To order your copies of Malice, click here for Amazon US (hardcover and ebook), Amazon UK (hardcover and ebook), and Exclusive Books (hardcover).

Check out John Gwynne’s webpage here!

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Reviews

 

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John Jarrold’s Corner: 2-Book German deal for Adam Nevill

Great news for German horror fans! Adam Nevill has been received a 2-book deal for German rights with Heyne; here are the details:

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PRESS RELEASE – GERMAN DEAL FOR ADAM NEVILL

Sascha Mamczak at Heyne has acquired German rights in two horror novels by Adam Nevill from Jon Mitchell, Rights Manager at Pan Macmillan. Julie Crisp acquired World rights in the books from agent John Jarrold.

This is the sixth translation deal for Adam Nevill via Macmillan’s rights department, following on from China, France, Russia, Spain and Turkey.

APARTMENT 16 was published very successfully by Pan in May this year, and THE RITUAL will follow in 2011. Heyne are planning to publish THE RITUAL first, following up with APARTMENT 16.

‘APARTMENT 16 has sold extremely well, reprinting three times and spending a long time as Amazon.co.uk’s bestselling horror title, and we’re both delighted with this deal,’ said John Jarrold. ‘Congratulations to Jon Mitchell!’

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Here’s the creepy and beautiful cover art for The Ritual; love the small detail hanging from that tree-branch!

Great news, huh? I wonder how you say “I shat my pants it was so scary!” in German? ‘Cause I think that phrase’ll be heard a-plenty! 😉

Congrats to John, Adam and the horror fans of Germany!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2010 in Announcements, John Jarrold's Corner

 

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Totally Tor: Heaven’s Shadow & The Walking Dead

Some great and exciting news from Tor UK via Chloe Healey:

Press Release 18th October 2010 – Tor UK announces two exciting new acquisitions

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HEAVEN’S SHADOW

From filmmaker/writer/producer David S. Goyer and author Michael Cassutt comes The Heavens Trilogy, an epic science fiction/adventure series that finds mankind fighting for survival in a new world plagued by an alien menace. Heaven’s Shadow begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race – but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined…

David S. Goyer is a screenwriter, film director and comic book writer. He has written several screenplays based on numerous comic book series, among them Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Flash. He is currently working on writing the third instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman film series and the new Superman movie. Michael Cassutt is a television producer, screenwriter, and author. His notable TV work includes producing or writing, or both, for The Outer Limits, Eerie Indiana , Beverly Hills 90210, and The Twilight Zone.

The first book has already received high praise from Guillermo Del Toro, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Strain and writer-director of Pan’s Labyrinth: ‘David Goyer always delivers thoroughly imagined, minutely researched worlds, spun around the most outlandish premises. Goyer acknowledges and understands genre while turning it over its head in this trippy, pulse-pounding tale’. The film rights to the trilogy have been optioned to Warner Bros in a seven figure deal.

Julie Crisp, Editorial Director of Tor UK, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights in the trilogy from Penguin US in a mid-Frankfurt deal. ‘Heaven’s Shadow reads like Michael Crichton channelling Arthur C Clarke. It’s everything I loved about science fiction written in the 1950s bought up-to-date for a contemporary audience. We’re thrilled to add such an exciting trilogy and these hugely talented authors to the Tor UK list’.

The first book in the trilogy HEAVEN’S SHADOW will be published in hardback in July 2011.

THE WALKING DEAD
Tor UK recently pre-empted a trilogy of zombie novels based on Robert Kirkman’s successful and critically acclaimed Walking Dead comic book series. The books were acquired in a mid-Frankfurt deal by Julie Crisp, Editorial Director of Tor UK, from Thomas Dunne books in the US . A TV series based on the comics will be released in the US on the AMC network on 31st October 2010 and on the FX channel in the UK on 5th November 2010. The series, starring UK’s Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually, Teachers and This Life) and written, directed and produced by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile), follows small town sheriff Rick Grimes as he travels across a post-apocalyptic US plagued by zombies in an attempt to find his wife and son. Watch the The Walking Dead trailer:

Based on entirely new stories, Robert Kirkman is co-writing the books with horror novelist Jay Bonansinga, author of Perfect Victim and Shattered. The first book, The Walking Dead, will be released in November 2012 alongside the second season of the TV series.

Julie Crisp said, ‘From George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead through to Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead, Zombies have always held a unique place in contemporary culture. Robert Kirkman has offered a fresh and exciting perspective on the zombie storyline through his series of comics and Tor UK is hugely excited to be able to work with him on the novelizations based on the world and characters he created in The Walking Dead’.

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Very exciting stuff! The Walking Dead is still something that needs to grow on me (when I watched the trailer for the incoming TV series I honestly thought, “Okay, we’ve seen this all before, what’s the fuss all about?”) and I admittedly haven’t read the comics, but I’m very excited for Heaven’s Shadow – David Goyer has proved that he can write awesome scripts and it’ll be interesting see what this project can come up with. 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Announcements, Totally Tor

 

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Tor Sign’s Paul Cornell for an October 2011 Urban Fantasy Novel

Great news, and thanks to Chloe Healy for sending the news through. 🙂

Press Release:

Fresh from his double Hugo nomination, Paul Cornell has just signed a new book deal with Julie Crisp at Tor UK.

Tor will be publishing a contemporary urban fantasy, featuring a group of characters exposed to side of London they haven’t seen before, in October 2011.

Julie Crisp, Tor’s Senior Commissioning Editor, said: ‘Tor UK is thrilled to be able to welcome such a prestigious talent to the team. Paul’s a brilliant writer and his novel is full of the imagination and originality demonstrated in his writing for BBC’s Doctor Who and Marvel’s Captain Britain ’

Paul had the following to say: ‘I’m delighted to be working with such a brilliant team, and honoured to be part of such a fine imprint as Tor’.

Catch up with Paul on his website: www.paulcornell.com. Follow him on twitter:http://twitter.com/Paul_Cornell
To sign up to receive the Tor UK newsletter, click here. Follow Tor on twitter: http://twitter.com/uktor

Great news indeed! Julie Crisp is an awesome editor and it’ll be great to see what Paul’s got lined up for us. 🙂

Congrats to all involved! 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2010 in Announcements

 

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New Novels in-Coming!

This news was originally posted over at Realms & Galaxies: Celebrating SFF on the 25th of November 2009.

News from TOR (thanks to Chloe Healy) and John Jarrold!

Some great news for all you Hard-SF / Space Opera lovers out there (like me): Gary Gibson (who’s Nova War should be on shelves everywhere, so get on Exclusive Books’ case if it isn’t) has signed with TOR for three more novels! 🙂

“Gibson has already begun work on the first book in the new contract, the working title of which is Final Days. The second will be a sequel and the third a standalone novel set in the same world as The Shoal Sequence, the second book of which, Nova War, has just been published to rave reviews.”

Julie Crisp (Mark C Newton’s editor, too) says of Gibson and the incoming novels: “Gary is easily considered one of the up-and-coming stars of, not only the Tor UK list, but space opera in general and is constantly aligned with Alastair Reynolds, Peter F Hamilton and Neal Asher as a leading name in British hard SF. So I’m thrilled to continue working with him on his very exciting books.”

What does gary have to say about the news? Taken from his blog, “I just got an offer for Tor for three new books, starting with Final Days, which I’ve blogged about in the past. The other two books are a sequel to Final Days, called The Thousand Emperors, and Core (very much a working title), a standalone story set in the same world as Stealing Light and its sequels. Off to a restaurant to celebrate.”

Awesome news! I’ll have to get my ass in gear and get some Gibson’s under the belt! 🙂 As I’ve said, Nova War is already available in SA, and I’ll keep you updated on the paperback-release date, as well as release dates for Final Days, The Thousand Emperors, and Core. 🙂

Now for news from John Jarrold:

Eric Brown’s new deal with Solaris!

PRESS RELEASE – NEW SOLARIS DEAL FOR ERIC BROWN

Jonathan Oliver, commissioning editor of Solaris Books since the imprint’s acquisition from Games Workshop by Rebellion earlier this month, has commissioned a new SF novel from Eric Brown, GUARDIANS OF THE PHOENIX. The agent was John Jarrold, and the deal was for UK/US rights. The book is due for publication late in 2010.

“Eric has been a mainstay of Solaris since their very successful publication of his novel HELIX,” said John Jarrold. “This proposal looks fascinating, and I can’t wait to read the finished novel!”

Great news, especially considering the fact that, for a while, everything was so up in the air with Solaris. 🙂

And great news for Jaine Fenn fans!

PRESS RELEASE – TWO-BOOK DEAL FOR SF NOVELIST

Jo Fletcher, Associate Publisher of Gollancz, has acquired two new novels by British SF author Jaine Fenn. The agent was John Jarrold, and the deal was for World rights.

These novels, titled BRINGER OF LIGHT and QUEEN OF NOWHERE, are due for delivery in 2010 and 2011 respectively and will be published under the name J N Fenn, as will all the author’s future novels.

Fenn’s first novel, PRINCIPLES OF ANGELS, was published to critical success by Gollancz in 2008, with CONSORTS OF HEAVEN following this year and GUARDIANS OF PARADISE forthcoming in 2010.

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Awesome stuff all round! Long Live SF! 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2010 in John Jarrold's Corner

 

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