I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Time of Courage by John Gwynne
Published by Pan MacMillan on April 2, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Epic, Historical
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Heroes shall rise and fall, the earth shall be stained red, and the fate of the Banished Lands will be decided once and for all in A Time of Courage, the gripping conclusion to the Of Blood and Bone trilogy.Now is the time of reckoning...The demon-king Asroth is free of his iron prison, and thewhole of the Banished Lands stands on the brink of domination.With the Ben-Elim broken and routed, half-breed Riv and asmall band of comrades must try to find a way to strike at the demon forces.Meanwhile, Drem is with the Order of the Bright Star on a desperate march south to join the battle. He fears what they will find along the way, even as he knows it is better to fight and fall than to live without hope.
Of Blood and BoneA Time of DreadA Time of BloodA Time of CourageThe Faithful and the FallenMaliceValorRuinWrath
What a freaking ride! A Time of Courage was everything I had hoped it would be. My emotions are scattered, I’m shaking but above all else I am in awe of the raw and the brutality of John Gwynne’s penmanship. I picked up the first book in the Of Blood and Bone series in the summer and it has easily become my favourite adult fantasy series, ever, and I have read a lot of adult fantasy!
Get ready for a finale that is action packed, swifter than a war-hammer to the face and so heart-breaking that it brings you straight to your knees.
A Time of Courage is a story that make you cry. It’s a dark tale of friendship, leadership, loyalty, strength, and love. These themes are at the eye of the storm and they never leave us. It is our hope in a sea of vines, threatening to quash everything our characters stand for. It resembles that even in the darkest of times that good can overcome evil. I don’t think I can verbalise just how much this series got under my skin and how much I loved this book. It was just damn perfect.
Every single detail, every step travelled kept me grounded and focussed on the narrative. It prepared me to peel back the dangerously dark layers that John Gwynne set up for his readers.
In this review I won’t delve into individual characters – you can look at my review for A Time of Dread, what I will say however, is that staying to form, the characterisation in A Time of Courage was pinpoint perfect. These characters will long stay with me long after the dust has settled on the final page. They are like you and I, in a way. They’ve all felt pain, rage, grief, anguish, love, and hope. they are relatable. They reach out of the page and call to you, call to you to hear their story, feel their trauma, just to be heard. The characters are constantly on a tipping point and with different points of view, the reader is drop-kicked straight to hell. John is the first fantasy author to make me cry huge, fat ugly tears!
A Time of Courage also excels at superior prose at describing such atrocious events that we can only imagine. I was more than happy to share the burden with characters I’ve came to love, came to care about, but boy was the anxiety strong. I needed them all to come out the other side. Gwynne had the power to implant vivid images in my brain and I was transfixed. The book caused a ripple in my stomach but in a good way, I was invested, heart and soul.
I hope that you can feel the passion that I have felt for this series within this review. Please, please pick it up. Experience the magic that it emits. It’s a fond farewell, these characters will be missed.
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.