Spoiler Free Reasons to Read The Faithful and the Fallen
The Faithful and the Fallen, John Gwynne’s debut fantasy series, began with Malice in 2012. Just lately, the series is gaining a lot of attention, with many high-praise reviews across the bookish community. For those who haven’t tried the series yet, here are some reasons to read The Faithful and the Fallen.
This series serves as the perfect bridge between the fantasy classics of yesterday and the new “classics” of today. The writing is succinct, quick-reading and entertaining from start to finish.
The books have all the hallmarks of a David Gemmell story, showing his influence with sweeping action and memorable characters. Each book starts right where previous one finished, and with all four books available, it’s the perfect series to binge read. It’s like one giant book in four meaty parts.
At its heart, this is a story of good against evil, where clever writing means it’s not always clear which is which. Characters on opposing sides both believe they are fighting against the dark, and there is internal conflict as doubts begin to surface.
The series is set in the Banished Lands, a land previously home to giants, but now ruled by humans. The world has a definite Celtic feel with a warrior society front and center. Men and women train from a young age as the art of war is key to the survival of the people.
Magic doesn’t really play a major role in the story, but it is present in the Banished Lands. The magic here feels very much like old earth- or blood-magicks being rediscovered. There are also powerful books and artefacts that play a big role without the magic itself taking over the storyline.
While some may feel the number of POV characters is too high, each one adds value to the story. They are all well written and all grow through the series. As the story moves on you can clearly see the influence characters have on each other, and how they help each other develop.
There are also some great female characters here. This is a world of equality, with women just as likely to kick ass as the men. Both male and female characters take up the archetypal mentor role, and we also have prominent female warriors and rulers.
For me, John Gwynne writes the best action sequences in fantasy today. His battle scenes are frenetic, bloody and exhilarating. The viewpoint typically shifts to show different aspects of the battle, capturing what is happening with other characters and showing the action in a realistic and engaging manner.
Gwynne is also not afraid to kill off characters if the time is right. In battle, the odds are sometimes so against a character that you’ll be sure their time is up. Your heart will be in your mouth until a last-minute rescue leaves you punching the air in celebration.
For fans of the animal companion trope, there’s a lot to look at here. The Faithful and the Fallen features a wolven (think House Stark’s direwolves) as its most prominent, but there are more. Dogs, horses, talking crows and draigs all feature, often as characters in their own right.
To top it off, there are giants riding giant bears into battle – it doesn’t get much more epic than that! Like with his action scenes, I think Gwynne writes the best animal characters you’ll find in fantasy today.
There are so many reasons to read The Faithful and the Fallen. With great characters, battles, animals and the penchant for a cliffhanger, this series is a thrilling and sometimes emotional read – several reviewers suggesting “Ruin will ruin you”.
If it ticks all the right boxes for you, getting to the end of Wrath will leave you with a Banished Lands-sized hole. The good thing though is there’s a follow up series to move on to – the Of Blood and Bone trilogy building on all those elements that make The Faithful and the Fallen such a great series.