At long last we have reached the concluding volume in John Gwynne’s Faithful and the Fallen series. Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights and I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole ride. For those readers worried about starting big, epic series and wondering if the author can stick the land, do not let your hearts be troubled. John Gwynne delivers an epic conclusion to the Banished Lands and has achieved in four volumes what many authors haven’t achieved in their entire career: a magnum opus. The Faithful and the Fallen is a modern masterpiece in epic fantasy and should be considered as such among the greats of George R.R Martin, Robin Hobb, David Gemmel, and Tad Williams. Anything written by John Gwynne for the rest of my life will forever be a must-read, no questions asked. Now, after all that bolstering, lets get into Wrath!
With my previous sequel reviews for the Faithful and the Fallen, this will be a spoiler free review but I will be touching on some events in the previous three volumes. The opening quote of Wrath reads “…wrath and vengeance poured.” John Milton in Paradise Lost and what a fitting phrase for this final volume. John Gwynne left us in Ruin with the most brutal and shocking cliff-hanger ending I have ever read. I had to drag myself off the floor as I couldn’t deal with the moment. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasures are in his possession. And together with Calidus and his ally Queen Rhin, Nathair will do anything to obtain the remaining Treasures. With all seven under his command, he can open a portal to the Otherworld. Then Asroth and his demon-horde will finally break into the Banished Lands and become flesh. Meanwhile Corban has been taken prisoner by the Jotun, warrior giants who ride their enormous bears into battle. His warband scattered, Corban must make new allies if he hopes to survive. But can he bond with competing factions of warlike giants? Somehow he must, if he’s to counter the threat Nathair represents.
Characters are the heart and soul of the Faithful and the Fallen and I had to read each chapter with great anticipation and fear that John Gwynne would take these characters away from me. My two favorite story lines in this concluding volume were Maquin and Veradis. Maquin having escaped his life as a slave and fleeing with Fidele has made it to the resistance warband, but his mission is far from over. Maquins arc of love, redemption, and honor was such a joy to read and I can instantly see why he is such a fan favorite. Veradis has finally realized the error of his ways and is shocked by the revelation of who Nathair and Calidus truly are. Veradis blind loyalty is what makes him a great soldier, but leaves him lacking in seeing things in a certain light. Veradis must deal with the sins of his past and do the right thing for the Banished Lands to survive the god war.
I have nothing but glowing remarks to say about John Gwynne and his epic series as it is truly one for the ages. You will cheer, laugh, cry, scream, and feel the pain of every moment you spend with these characters. No other author has gotten these reactions out of me while reading a story apart from George R.R. Martin and who knows when A Song of Ice and Fire will be finished. The Faithful and the Fallen is a completed series and every bit as amazing as the pillars of the fantasy genre. I will forever be thankful for John Gwynne writing these amazing stories as I will be reading them for decades to come.
For those of you wanting more from the Banished Lands once finishing Wrath, John Gwynne has completed a sequel trilogy, Of Blood and Bone, taking place over 100 years after the conclusion of Wrath. Those books are amazing as well, but more on that later!
Take a bow John Gwynne your chariot awaits!
Truth and Courage!