“You think not?” Meical asked pleadingly. “We are what we choose to be. What makes a king a king? Is there something different about him? Does special, sacred blood run in his veins? No. He is chosen; he believes it, and the people believe. He rises to the task, or he fails it.”
Author: John Gwynne
Category: Epic Fantasy
Publication Date: July 16th, 2015
So yeah, this series just got pretty awesome.
If you have read my reviews for the first two books, you probably know that I enjoyed them but wasn’t totally sold on them as much as other reviewers seemed to be.
I now officially am joining the John Gwynne fanwagon.
Everything about the first two installments just smacked of every fantasy trope out that. And that wasn’t bad; while it had a lot of the same elements as so many fantasy stories before it was definitely well-written and engaging. This installment took all of that setup though and turned the series into something completely its own.
This has 100% everything to do with characters.
Though there are certainly plot twists, the morphing of almost solidly white and black characters with only a few sporting some shades of gray to most of the cast falling into the gray areas is the highlight of this story. While there are still some that are starkly good and some starkly evil, there are also some characters that are decidedly good people but find themselves on the wrong side of the war (these were my favorite to follow). Some characters have family members on the other side of the war and have to deal the complexities and mistrust that it brings.
And Corban. His character is damn near pristine. I am having a little bit of trouble connecting with him I think because of this though. He is sort of a shining example of goodness and while that is fitting for the one prophesied to save the world, it does make it a little difficult for a mere mortal like myself to relate to. Still, what I liked about his character in this book was watching him be confronted with many decisions that were kind of parallel to things that Nathair has faced at some point and the completely different choices that are made.
Apart from having trouble connecting with Corban, the only semi-negative note that I have is that I had a little bit of trouble keeping up with the enormous cast of characters at times. This might could be attributed to the fact that there were about two months between my reading Valor and Ruin. But it also seemed like there were several characters now that have similar names. There were Haelan and Halion which I initially had trouble keeping straight but then there were also all the “C” names! Corban and Conall and Camlin and Coralen and Calidus.
Maybe that is why Maquin and Fidele are my favorite characters. Their names are easy for me to remember!
All that said, I understand that cast of characters this big can be unwieldy at times and I do think that a good balance was reached as far as each of the points of view having equally engaging stories and a fair amount of “screen time.”
I am upset though that I don’t already have Wrath in my hands so I can get started on it! That cliffhanger!