“Both the brave man and the coward feel the same. The only difference between them is that the brave man faces his fear, does not run.” – Malice
The Faithful and the Fallen Series Review – Spoiler Free
For the longest time, whenever I took my regular browsing stroll through the Fantasy section of my local bookstore, there was always a book that stood out to me. With its striking white covers, a sword boldly depicted on it’s front and menacing dark scripted font, it had the hallmarks of what I expected a Fantasy book to promise. Epic battles.
It wasn’t until many years later, till now, that I actually picked up The Faithful and the Fallen by John Gwynne to read and as promised, there were epic battles. But I also discovered there was a lot more that this series had to offer.
About the Series
The Faithful and the Fallen is an epic fantasy series foretelling an ancient feud between angels and demons, destined to fight their God-War over the Banished Lands. A land inhabited by humans, giants, and all other manner of creatures. The prophecy states that there will be a champion for each side, one known as the Black Sun and the other, the Bright Star. And it is in this Great War that the fate of the world will be decided.
Introducing a multi-character POV narrative, this is undoubtedly one of the strengths to the series, giving us a view from many different angles of the story. It can be quite daunting to try and familiarize with them all, including the side characters, but the pay-off is so worth it (and thankfully there is a glossary by the second book!)
John Gwynne does fantastically in juggling many memorable characters, and the world feels lived in and full of life.
There is plenty of action depicted especially as the book progresses, whether it’s individual duels, large-scale battle sequences, small-scale skirmishes, or facing off giant wyrms. These are engagingly written that you always feel immersed in the scene from each character perspective. I most certainly felt the sense of claustrophobia of being pushed and shoved in the midst of a shield wall!
The books contain familiar fantasy themes such as chosen ones, animal companions, good vs evil, political intrigues…All executed very well behind the carefully crafted characters. In the most organic way, they are faced with constant challenges that question their moral standing, but not only that, it is in the character relationships and camaraderie that they find strength within each other. You end up rooting for a lot of them as they develop and grow.
Behind the gritty warrior appeal, the companionable animals and lofty grandeur of glory in battle, lays the very heart and soul of the books. The theme of what it means to be a good warrior, a good person, and ultimately, what it is exactly that they are all fighting for. And it is the core themes of these ideals that really make this series exceptional for me. It is a coming of age story, tales of revenge, of redemption, and a found family coming together.
The story is told in a cohesive manner where events lead straight into the other from each book. The first one sets up a lot of our characters before spiraling events take over, and it is in this very ground work that leads to the amazing pay off later.
I found it such an adrenaline fuelled ride and the best experience to be able to binge read these. I simply didn’t want to step away until I reached the end!
Overall, if everything that I’ve said sounds right up your street, then I highly recommend picking up this series. It is equal parts action packed, yet wholesome, set in a very realised world. A fine example of why I love reading fantasy.