By: John Gwynne
Reviewed by: Andy Peloquin
I FINALLY finished Malice by John Gwynne (a beast of a book!) and wow, what an epic world!
It’s rare to find Iron Age stories (most fantasy plays with steel), but I actually really enjoyed the more “primitive” feel of the world. It feels more like classic Dark Ages Germany or Scandinavia, complete with dark forests, winter woods, jagged mountains, and castles perched on cliffsides. All in all, quite the “dark” vibe.
Of the characters, the easiest to follow was Corban, the pretty classic coming-of-age storyline, though with hints of something more lurking behind the scenes. Kastell’s POV didn’t serve much for the story overall, IMO. Cywen’s was interesting but mostly adjacent to Corban’s plot. Veradis had some pretty intriguing parts to play as companion to Prince Nathair, and his POV is the one that’s kind of got me wondering what’s to come for the future books. His is real big-picture stuff, not related to HIS story, but his companionship with the Prince.
It’s definitely a slow-build story. Do not expect anything particularly heart-racing or dramatic to happen for the first 40-50%, though the world is incredibly well fleshed out and a solid foundation is built. I never felt like it picked up in terms of pacing, but the story itself got more interesting and I was drawn more fully into each character’s thread by around the 50% mark.
It’s the first of Gwynne’s books that I’ve read and I’m already diving into Book 2 to see what happens. I’m intrigued if not quite fully on the hook, but he’s got me sucked into the next story and curious to find out where things are going. Definitely worth the read!
This review is the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of Aethon Books or its employees.