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A Time of Dread by John Gwynne. Book Review

A Time of Dread

The Banished Land has been a place of peace since the Ben-Elim vanquished the evil hordes of Kadoshim. But there are disturbing signs that, once again, this ancient enemy is on the rise. The Bel-Elim are also not the saviours they had appeared to be. Protection from the enemy of the peoples of the Banished Land has come at a price. Peace across the land has been achieved through rigid enforcement of Ben-Elim rules.

Two young people, Drem, the son of a trapper with a mysterious past, and Riv, the daughter and sister of elite White Wing warriors, have the potential to change the fate of the Banished Land and its people. But, as the shadows gather across the land, their paths will not be easy.

If you are looking for a great example of quality fantasy writing, resonating with the widest possible reading age range, then look no further than A Time of Dread. At first glance the style of writing appears to appeal to the older young adult/new adult market. This is because of the ease of reading and the prominence of the young protagonists around which the story revolves. But their lack of mawkishness, and the inclusion of the older protagonists, as their older and wiser mentors (either in the form of a parent or tutor), creates real depth to the characters. The relationships work well, developed through the use of fluid dialogue, which is easy to relate to. The believable way the characters react to the varied and imaginative situations they find themselves in also adds to the emotional investment the reader will develop with them, ensuring that this novel will appeal to adults who enjoy action packed fantasies with a generous cast of favourite protagonists.

Like its predecessor, ‘Faithful and the Fallen’, A Time of Dread has cleverly choreographed fight scenes which amount to far more than a series of moves, which say a great deal about the combatants. But this is a much darker book, given that the Kadoshim possess a growing band of disciples who enthusiastically enact their grisly rituals, making A Time of Dread not a read for those of a delicate disposition.

The new ‘Of Blood and Bone’ series follows on some time after from the ‘Faithful and the Fallen’ series. But as the Bel-Elim and giants live a long time, there is a recurrence of some familiar characters. This is without doubt an epic, which provides an effortless and enjoyable read.

A Time of Dread was courtesy of Macmillan.