‘War has erupted in the Banished Lands as the race for power intensifies’ and with that eruption, comes a well deserved 5-stars rating.
I gave huge praises to Malice, it was impressive but Valor, the second book in John Gwynne’s debut series was incredibly better than its predecessor. I included both Malice and Valor in one of my all-time favorite lists; that’s two out of four books of the series already. Judging from the quality progression of the series, I strongly believe the second half of The Faithful and the Fallen will follow that notion.
Valor immediately continued from where Malice left off and it’s simply insane how much better it was. The story grew darker and complex because the prophecy from the first book has finally unraveled its thread; this means that the Bright Star & Black Sun identity have also been revealed. The unraveling of the prophecy provided a highly faster-paced plot progression compared to some other epic fantasy series. For example, the nowhere in sight “Winter is Coming” from A Song of Ice and Fire; even after twenty years of publication, winter is still not here. Although the politicking was scarce here, the manipulation, scheming, and deception prevailed; it was even more common and evident compared to Malice; resulting in a terminal blind justice and beliefs for two of the main characters.
Friendship and family were some the best factor to come out from the first book. No need to worry, there’s no shortage of them here despite how dark the story became. There were many heartwarming scenes between the lovable characters (both human and animals). Just within two books, John Gwynne managed to cast a love spell that compelled me to care so much towards the characters. The characters were really easy to get attached to because their personality, development, strength, and weaknesses were written extremely well. Plus, it was amazing to see how each characters’ POV intertwined. The world these lovable characters live in is truly harsh and bleak; heartbreaks bounded to occur. I haven’t mentioned any of the characters names since my Malice review for a good reason and I’ll continue this reviewing style for the rest of the series.
If I have to choose what Valor excels most than the first book, it would definitely be its action sequences. The characters from the first book have their personality well-established already, because of this, John Gwynne was able to focus more on the action scenes to create fantastic results. The pacing in Valor pacing was superbly paced. Full of brawl after brawl with only a short break before the next chaos happened again, there were so many wars and intense actions sequences spread throughout the whole book. Shield-Wall, strategic planning, stealth, giants, and magic; I absorbed these amazingly written action scenes as if I was truly in the mids of all the madness. Additionally, reading the wars and seeing the events unfolded from the perspectives of each opposition brings a huge amount of depth and emotion; in estimation, out of half of the 650 pages of this novel were phenomenal actions.
“Memory is a double-edged sword, Uthas. It can keep you strong through dark times, but it can also cripple you, keep you locked in a moment that no longer exists.”
Valor is an amazing second book of a series, it didn’t suffer the infamous second book syndrome and as a whole, it provided a highly engrossing experience. It was hard to put down, it contained wonderful plot and characters’ developments, and I’m really happy to know that I still have two books left in this series to read. I simply can’t wait to see how the story evolved from here. In fact, I’m starting the next book, Ruin, immediately after I finished writing this review. Once again, I highly recommend this series to anyone who’s looking for a fantastic epic fantasy read with compelling characters, greatly written action sequences, and unpredictable plot. I’m halfway through the series now and my experience with it so far can be defined as Sic Parvis Magna–greatness from small beginnings. There’s absolutely no reason for you to skip this series if you’re a fan of epic fantasy with the classic ‘Good vs Evil’ theme told with a modern narrative.
Review originally written on February 28th, 2017 and posted on Booknest.eu
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)