Published by Pan MacMillan on 6 September 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic, Action & Adventure, Historical
Source: Purchased Book
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Acclaimed epic fantasy author John Gwynne returns with the first book in a new trilogy, perfect for fans of George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and David Gemmell.
"A Time of Dread reminds me of why I became a fantasy enthusiast in the first place." -- Robin Hobb
A race of warrior angels, the Ben-Elim, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands, but their peace is brutally enforced.
In the south, hotheaded Riv is desperate to join the Ben-Elim's peacekeeping force, until she unearths a deadly secret.
In the west, the giantess Sig investigates demon sightings and discovers signs of an uprising and black magic.And in the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests. The work of a predator, or something far darker?It's a time of shifting loyalties and world-changing dangers. Difficult choices need to be made. Because in the shadows, demons are gathering, waiting for their time to rise. . .
Dear John, As a book blogger who thought that she had already read the best in fantasy, is outrageously proved wrong and now isn’t really sure how I am going to write this review. I want to do A Time Of Dread justice, I want my blog readers to pick this one up and above all I want them to feel the emotions that you wrought upon me. The feelings that I got when I opened the book until the point when I closed the end cover and took a deep breath, as I realised that I hadn’t just read a book but had consumed art.
The Fantasy genre Is where my imagination can run wild and free. I can forget my cares and my obligations and just become at one with the story. It’s far easier to imagine an outnumbered battle against an unknown evil than face real life, at least I think so. I can be armoured and protected, a shield wall protecting me from danger. That was until I read, A Time Of Dread. The shield wall got obliterated, it’s remains scattered around my feet. The introductions of Bleda, Riv and Drem left me trying to pick up the pieces but missing parts/information made it futile.
Each page was turned, and I could feel my wall dropping. A Time Of Dread takes place approximately 120 years after the events of Wrath which also took place within The Banished Lands. It’s told in four perspectives, Bleda, the warrior prince who is taken as a ward to cement peace between two warring clans. Riv, a very hot-headed wing-wing in training. Sig, a bear riding giant. Drem, a young buck that lives with his dad and learns all manner of things such as trapping, but why are they always moving on?
One thing that John Gwynne excels at is his masterful skill at characterisation. Yes, the plot and the world building is the pedigree dogs’ bollocks but if you can’t care for the characters then really what is the point? I would actually struggle to name another author that has nailed it quite like Gwynne has. Struggling to get into adult SFF then I urge you to pick this up, the author has the key to unlock your hesitations. The craft is so skilful that I could almost touch every element. I’m surprised the novel wasn’t pulsing with a heartbeat was the obvious passion and love pouring out from every page.
Gwynne is a talent that outshines many others. The battle scenes, the grief and suffering and the blood. It all ties together into a rare thing – a perfect fantasy novel. The cinematic scenes coming to life – this is something that John Gwynne can do in a mere sentence, such is his talent. I haven’t read the other books based in the Banished Lands, but I will be rectifying it and it certainly didn’t hinder my enjoyment of A Time Of Dread.
A Time Of Dread is an epic fantasy full of action and ambitious family ties. Vividly characterised with a highly octane journey makes it a no brainer. The writing has a strong voice and I can’t wait to immerse myself in this world again.
ABOUT JOHN GWYNNE
My parents are from Wales, but I was born in Singapore because my dad was in the RAF. We moved around pretty regularly, roughly every three years or so.
I saw a fair bit of the UK because of this semi-nomadic lifestyle, beautiful landscapes that left their mark on me and I may have turned our travelling into an imagined fantastical quest.
I studied and lectured at Brighton University. I’ve played double bass in a rock ‘n’ roll band, packed soap, been a waiter in a French restaurant, worked on landscaping and carpentry crews, travelled the USA and Canada.
I’m married with four children and a handful of dogs, most of whom will chew anything that stands still for too long. I suspect one of them thinks she’s a wolf.
I live in Eastbourne running a small family business with my wife (which means doing what she tells me to do) rejuvenating vintage furniture (which means lifting, chopping, painting and gluing, not necessarily in that order).
When I’m not writing or fixing furniture I can be found training for battle with spear, sword and shield on the South Downs, dressed in a coat of mail and standing in a shieldwall.
(Sometimes I can be found stuck in my coat of mail. It’s harder than it looks).
I am a passionate Viking re-enactor, standing alongside my three sons, who share my passion for history and swords.
The reading bug came early. I clearly remember my teacher settling us all down in a circle and then beginning to read from Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three. I was around seven or eight years old, I think. It was a slippery slope from there, filled with Hobbits and Ringwraith’s, magic, minotaur’s and snake-haired monsters, dragons and giant spiders and Holy Grails. A love of fantasy, mythology and ancient history sank its claws deep into me.
Even so, I didn’t begin writing until I was in my early thirties, and only then because my wife and children encouraged me to do so.
I can remember vividly the moment I decided to have a go at writing. It kind of happened by accident, really. I used to teach at Brighton University, but stepped out of that due to the poor health of my daughter, Harriett. She is profoundly disabled, my wife and I being her sole carers. Early in 2002, which is when the Faithful and the Fallen began, I have a vivid memory of returning home from watching The Two Towers at the cinema with my family. We were sitting around the table and having dinner, and Caroline, my wonderful wife, said.
“You should try writing a book!”
I told her that was a silly idea, explaining that there were necessary ingredients to writing a book that I was most definitely lacking, such as characters, a plot, and talent. But then my children were caught up in the excitement of it all and so my resistance began to crumble. I had been thinking about taking up a hobby, one that I could do from home, as that’s where I spent most of my time because of looking after Harriett, as well as our vintage furniture business, which is also run from home. So eventually I thought.
“Why not. It might be fun.”
So that’s how I started writing the Faithful and the Fallen, as a hobby.
Malice, my debut novel, is inspired by the epic and heroic fantasy I fell in love with, and then thrown in the pot with my love of mythology and history. At its heart Malice is a coming-of-age tale about a young man named Corban, who yearns to become a warrior, although there is a lot more going on than just Corban’s tale. It’s a story of love and loyalty, betrayal and hope set in a feral, war-torn land that is prowled by monsters and on the brink of the God-War, about to be fought by angels and demons.
Malice was published by Pan Macmillan in 2012 and went on to win the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Debut of 2012. That was a truly wonderful moment, as David Gemmell is a hero of mine and one of the reasons I write.
The following three books in the series – Valour, Ruin and Wrath, were all shortlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novels of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Wrath, the fourth and final instalment of the Faithful and the Fallen, won Fantasy Faction.com and Booknest.eu awards for best fantasy novel of 2016.
My new series has gone back to the Banished Lands. Book one, A Time of Dread, was published in January 2018. Book two, A Time of Blood, will be published in March 2019.