We have arrived at the penultimate book in John Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen series. Ruin is by far the best book in the series in my humble opinion. The impact, gut punches, epic battles, and the sheer brutality will leave you speechless by the end, and I do mean speechless. John Gwynne titled this book Ruin for a reason as there are parts of this book that will absolutely destroy you. For any readers out there who think nothing new will shock them from an author after George R.R Martin or Seth Dickinson, you are sadly mistaken.
This will be a spoiler free review but I will be touching on some events that have taken place in Valor. Corban has been swept along by the tide of war. He has suffered, lost loved ones, sought only safety from the darkness. Corban will no longer run as he has seen the face of evil in Calidus and he must fight them. With his warband of family, friends, giants, fanatical warriors, an angel and a talking crow he begins the journey to Drassil, the fabled fortress hidden deep in the heart of Forn Forest. For in Drassil lies the spear of Skald, one of the seven treasures, and here it is prophesied that the Bright Star will stand against the Black Sun. Nathair has come to realize that he has been deceived by Calidus and he now realizes the truth. They plan to bring Asroth and his host of the Fallen into the world of flesh, but to do so they need the seven treasures. He will have to make his choices soon as the fate of the Banished Lands hangs in the balance. Maquin is on the run with Fidele from Lykos and his army as they start to witness a rebellion forming in Nathairs kingdom.
Ruin is where John Gwynne takes is characterization and plot to the next level. His characters have been put through such strife and loss, but that is nothing compared to what they will experience in Ruin. The stakes are definitely raise and readers who have jumped on this warband should be prepared for a wild ride indeed. What makes John Gwynne stories stand out so much to me is the intense and dreadful feeling that no one is safe in his world. Similar to A Song of Ice and Fire, every character has to be on their toes at all times or they might get a knife in the back. Some readers may not agree with this but a little tension or a lot in this case, goes a long way in a fantasy book and if the threat of character deaths isn’t real, then the reader will not be as invested in the story. This is one of John Gwynne’s greatest strengths and you will feel the tension in Ruin.
The last 150 pages of this book is pure brilliance and brutality. It will take you on an emotion rollercoaster that will take you days to recover from. I don’t mean to build up the tension for Ruin, but you have been warned. Most writers take decades to publish a books as grand as Ruin and John Gwynne has accomplished this is his third outing. Ruin is as close to pure perfection that you will find in an epic fantasy and I do not use these word lightly. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, John Gwynne is my new favorite fantasy author and I hope he will quickly become some of yours!
Cheers to you John Gwynne! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I behold a masterpiece!
Truth and Courage!