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Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!

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Book Review: Malice by John Gwynne

Malice - John Gwynne

My giddy aunt! Now THIS is what I call epic fantasy. Encompassing the word epic in every way possible. Imagine The Belgariad, The Lord of the Rings and The Farseer Trilogy meshed into one and you have Malice.


Yes, it is based around old genre stereotypes and it does feel familiar in places, but it has character coming out of it’s every fibre. I am quite happy to admit, the feeling of my old comfy shoes fit me quite well and damn it if I am going to pretend I didn’t enjoy every step!


It starts off gentle; pretty setting, smart, affable characters, a few mysteries and intrigues here and there.. Slow crescendo.. And then ends in an explosion of adrenaline pumping madness. The books description is right, even the brave fall.


I am totally blown away by it, and it has made me forget all the little holes and annoyances throughout (usually the feeling of wanting to smack characters in the head with their own book!), simply because it works, and it works so well you’ll be hunting up the next instalment as soon as this one ends. (Valour or Valor in case you are looking. The spelling differs depending on the country of release.)


The plot twists like an Escher print, it can dead end you in places you expected to find the solution, even if you know exactly where the path is taking you. You see it, you know it and it still cracks you in the skull when it happens! If you don’t want the character you love to end up somewhere you don’t want them to be, you’ll be throwing this one across the room in annoyance. A lot of ‘oh no you didn’t’ was flying about in my bedroom as I read Malice, in fact I scared my cat a few times in the last quarter from a few cracker deaths and unavoidable plot traps keeping the whole cast running frantic.


The characters on the ‘not so good’ side of Malice have this slow burn feeling about them, because essentially most aren’t inherently evil, they are manipulated and moulded into becoming a scourge by the ultimate evil of the land. Intentions good, actions bad. It has a Hitler-esque feel sometimes. Starts off as the need to change for good, ends up mad as a hatter. One character in particular will have your heart squeezing in despair. You know he isn’t on the right side, that he doesn’t belong, but he just doesn’t quite know it. And you slap him upside the head so often you get a sore hand.


As there are quite a few POV, it’ll be interesting to see who takes up the main roles in Valour, because there are a few from Malice that will have some major difficulties returning. This camp wants more Gar.


To end, I had a ‘knacker’s’ count going on this book, as I was delighted to see the word after so long, and the final tally was 4. Four perfect delightful kicking in the knacker’s..

Skipping like a child in comfortable shoes onto Valour…