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Wrath by John Gwynne. Book Review

May 14, 2017


Wrath is the fourth book of ‘The Faithful and Fallen’ series set in a world where the fortunes of the leaders ebb and flow according to the success of their battle campaigns, their alliances and betrayals. This is a land of men, but also giants who ride huge bears into battle, of magic, and portals into a world of demon-hordes. All of this is set within a vast majestic landscape which matches the epic nature of the story.

The fourth book in a series is probably not a good place to start reading, because the narrative is so far advanced, but I had heard such a lot about this series that I was curious to see why John Gwynne has managed to make way in a market that is flooded with fantasy novels. What makes ‘The Faithful and The Fallen’ series stand out from the crowd?

Considering that the book is prefaced by a substantial list of characters and a description of their place in the unfolding drama, I felt a bit daunted by the task I had set myself, but was surprised how quickly I connected with the characters and began to feel involved in their lives.

It helps that Gwynne gives his characters a sense of purpose and creates credible interactions between them, which enables the reader to quickly empathise with them.

As this is an epic type of book in the tradition of Tolkien, battle scenes are inevitable, but are very well written by providing a constant overview, then honing in on particular characters. There is a real sense of fluidity in these scenes providing a sense of strategy and the close up and personal bloody business of fighting hand to hand. As a result the battles fit comfortably into the narrative and are small stories in their own right. There is also no sense of the extended action slowing down the plot.

Some fantasy novels can also become little more than a mash-up of types and an excuse to shoehorn every meme of fantasy into the story. Wrath uses all the different species intelligently and integrates them well.

There is plenty to keep a fantasy fan busy in Wrath and I will be interested to see what Gwynne does next.

Wrath was courtesy of Pan Macmillan via NetGalley

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