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by John Gwynne

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Faithful & the Fallen (2)

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2991370,004 (4.1)9
"Corban flees his homeland searching for peace, but he soon discovers that there is no haven in the west as the agents of Rhin and roaming bands of giants hound his every step. Veradis leaves the battleground and rushes to his King's side. But he has witnessed both combat and betrayal and his duty weighs heavily upon him. Maquin seeks only revenge, but pirate slavers and the brutal world of pit-fighting stand in his way. Nathair becomes embroiled in the wars of the west as Queen Rhin marches against King Owain. The need to find the cauldron of the giants drives him on. Sides are chosen and oaths will be fulfilled or broken in a land where hell has broken loose."--Amazon.com.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Mostly enjoyable but still quite slow. It's only at the end of this book that Corban shows any sign of becoming this great leader everyone is waiting for and that feels like a very long time to me. Corban seems very passive as a character - at least the bad guy Nathair has some agency. There is too much fighting and battles for my personal taste in fantasy but if that rocks your boat you will probably love this. I do like some of the characters though, especially Camlin. But I still find that I am often not sure quite who the side characters are. Some work for me but I am not particularly emotionally invested in more than a couple of characters. I've given a 4* now but it may get revised downwards. It's a shame, I was hoping to really like this but it's not there yet. ( )
  infjsarah | Jun 3, 2021 |
I read this a couple of years ago and am now working my way through the Audiobooks as I cannot stay away from the Banished Lands for to long.
This is simply a fantastic series of books, Corban starts to grow into his role and now has the perfect foil in Coralen, who also happens to be Conall and Halion's half sister - Conall is going up in the world but losing more of himself to do it and Halion is staying as the most honourable man in the Lands. Cywen and Veradis and starting to bicker, and Veradis is finally starting to question some decisions. Dath and Farrell are growing up and becoming powerful allies in their own right. Gar is reunited with family. Camlin has found a new family and Marrock needs his family around him. Vonn has lost his but his honour keeps him on the right path, whilst Rafe has lost both family and honour(if he ever had any), Maquin and Orgull fight, fight and fight some more and Fidele has her control taken from her. Peritus tries to fight back whilst Alcyon remains a mystery. And this is only just touching on some of the characters that you follow through the Banished Lands, there are dozens more.

The thought of that many characters to follow might worry some people, but they are so well written and interconnected that each one is an integral part of this world, though don't get too attached to any of them as Mr Gwynne swings his writers axe with abandoned glee sometimes!

As I've said, I've read these and love the books, the audiobook version narrated by Damian Lynch brings the fantastic world to life and gives voices to these characters you come to care about, love and hate! ( )
  GWReviewDabbler | Oct 26, 2020 |
After the crappy first volume I had another go at Gwynne’s “The Faithful and the Fallen Series”. What was I thinking? This one is even worst than the first volume.

As fair as I can remember, the vogue for the long series began in the late '70s/early '80s. This was the time at which publishing became very much more business-orientated, and the waves of mergers started, producing a very small number of very large companies that competed head-to-head for the few really successful writers, who could be treated as brands. The book series has the advantage for publishers that, when successful, it locks in a large body of readers for the future, which smooths revenue streams and makes publicity and marketing easier. Subsequently, authors began to find that proposals for stand-alone novels were being turned down in favour of series proposals. It's a commercial consideration, not an artistic one. The viability of the fantasy series as a ready-made source for TV and film just makes its dominance more secure. A parallel phenomenon is single book bloat. A big book looks like better value than a smaller one: so now most fantasy novels are well over 400 pages (“Valor” has more than 600 in my edition and all of them were a waste of my time!), and the price is very slack writing and repetition.

Doorstoppers like “Valor” are more the response to the endless page given to readers by word-processors. It's the inevitable consequence of writers not having to buy paper for their typewriters... which is good news for those of us sneering at hipsters and their typewriters. ( )
  antao | Sep 17, 2020 |
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: Valor
Series: The Faithful and the Fallen #2
Author: John Gwynne
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 680 /DNF@10%
Format: Digital Edition


DNF's don't get a synopsis. They are crap and have forfeited the right to any effort on my part that might in any way convince someone else to try them. In fact, I consider it my Civic Duty to NOT do any sort of synopsis for a DNF book and view it as akin to shooting a Communist.


My Thoughts:

Ok, I got it out of my system. I'm ok now, honest.

However, 94 characters, 120 chapters and 120 point of view changes majorly contributed to my continued blaseness about this book, this series and this author.

I simply didn't care. This, and Malice too, had all the earmarks of an Epic Fantasy that I would eat up with a spoon. But I didn't. It wasn't even hate this time but just a complete and utter appalling cloud of apathy.

I won't be reading any more by this author. He just pushes my buttons wrong for some reason.

★☆☆☆☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Jun 17, 2019 |
After the cliffhanger ending of the first book in this epic fantasy series I was keen to learn the fate of the characters I cared about, since most of them had not been left in a comfortable position by the end of Malice, so I was happy to see that Valour started exactly where its predecessor had left off, almost as if this were a new chapter in the story.

What I was not prepared to accept, however, was the leisurely way in which the author placed his pieces on the complicated chessboard of this series: much as the previous volume (and the other Gwynne book I read) the story starts with a deliberate pace that I have now come to recognize as the author's modus operandi, and this kind of pace requires some patience from the readers, a quality I don't possess in great amount, unfortunately, and that in this case was hindered by my eagerness to move forward with the story. This experience taught that with a John Gwynne novel one must be patient, and that such restraint will always be rewarded in the end.

War has come to the Banished Lands: high king Nathair, persuaded that he's the Bright Star, the champion of light who must fight against the encroaching darkness, has launched his plan of conquest, blind to the deviousness of his allies and the harm he's inflicting on the ever-dwindling decent rulers of the land. Young Corban, the true champion of good, is on the run with princess Edana and a few trusty companions, and suffering the double burden of the loss of his father and sister on one side and the awareness of being special on the other, a notion he's not ready to accept. Cywen, Corban's sister who has been left for dead in the assault on Dun Carreg, is taken prisoner by Nathair's war-band, her attempts at escape thwarted time and again, as are her attempts to convince Veradis - Nathair's first sword - of her brother's innocence: Veradis is indeed as blind to outside influence as his king… And last but not least, warrior Maquin (one of my favorite secondary characters in Malice) finds himself prisoner of the Vin Thalun pirates and is forced to set aside his principles and humanity as he's compelled to fight for his life in their slave pits.

These are only the highlights of a very complex story that slowly but surely gains momentum as it expands to encompass an ever-widening playing field and cast of characters: each of them is given room to grow and the chance of offering their point of view to the readers through alternating chapters that are often quite brief, as if to underline both the intricacy of the plot and the scope of the events. One of the points that these characters' journey underscores repeatedly is that the line of demarcation between good and evil is thin and often blurred: the "bad guys" are more often than not mislaid by the true enemies who use their insecurities or their flaws as leverage to accomplish their dark goals, so that the readers can see these people are not inherently evil but more simply misguided; just as the "good guys" find themselves repeatedly forced to be vicious in order to survive, needing to forget the rules of honor and fairness that have been at the root of their nature until then.

As a counterpoint to this element, however, there is a wonderful stress on the feelings of friendship, of belonging to an extended family that does not rely only on ties of blood but rather on the those forged in adversity, which end up being stronger than any blood relationship might be. We see this often - with the most notable example being that of former brigand Camlin, who for the first time in his life perceives this sense of belonging once he discovers he's prepared to give his life for people he once might have preyed upon. It's one of the few rays of hope in what looks like a dire, sometimes hopeless background.

Be they good or evil, invested with a mission or duped into wrongdoing, these characters - all of them - are the real backbone of the story, here even more than in the previous novel because we can see how they have evolved and can perceive where they might be headed; what's more, the addition of new characters adds more layers to the ones we already know, because it's through these interactions that an individual's true nature comes to the fore. And here lies the most difficult hurdle to be overcome by us readers, because one way or another we come to care for these characters, to see them as flesh and blood creatures, and when the author needs to remove them from the playing field it's always a shock, and one that's not always easy to metabolize. Epic fantasy should have prepared us to endure these losses: from the death of poor Boromir to the cruel slaying of Ned Stark, just to name two of the most famous ones, we should know that being one of the "good guys" is no guarantee of survival, and yet every time that happens we feel the same pain of… betrayal and are reminded of the bitter lesson of war, that no one is safe. The only comfort offered by John Gwynne's portrayal of these deaths is that they always seem to fulfill some higher purpose, that we can see how that particular life was not wasted on a whim - it might not be much, but it's enough.

And speaking of war, I noticed how Valour contains an impressive number of battle or duel sequences, from war skirmishes to gladiatorial arena combat: in every instance you can find a precision of detail, a sort of choreography to the action that turns these scenes into quite cinematic portrayals. For someone like me, who usually skips across this kind of description, this is indeed an amazing approach.

Much as Valour might have started somewhat slowly for my tastes, by the end it developed into a breathtaking narrative with higher and higher stakes, and totally unpredictable developments: if Malice laid the ground for the encroaching of evil, and Valour showed the kind of sacrifices required by the battle against it, I wonder what the next book's title - Ruin - will mean in terms of story progress. What I know is that it will be another enthralling journey. ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Mar 8, 2019 |
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"Corban flees his homeland searching for peace, but he soon discovers that there is no haven in the west as the agents of Rhin and roaming bands of giants hound his every step. Veradis leaves the battleground and rushes to his King's side. But he has witnessed both combat and betrayal and his duty weighs heavily upon him. Maquin seeks only revenge, but pirate slavers and the brutal world of pit-fighting stand in his way. Nathair becomes embroiled in the wars of the west as Queen Rhin marches against King Owain. The need to find the cauldron of the giants drives him on. Sides are chosen and oaths will be fulfilled or broken in a land where hell has broken loose."--Amazon.com.

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