Welcome back to the Banished Land. It has been awhile since we left our beloved characters at the end of the Faithful and the Fallen series. With the release of this new trilogy, John Gwynne has cemented himself as my favorite modern fantasy author, a writer who is always on top of his game, and who will only get better with each passing novel. He can do no wrong and A Time of Dread proves that to me. This story is set in the same world as his previous series but takes place over 100 years later with a new cast of character. Their are a few cross over characters from the previous series through and they were a joy to see again. Let me say this, you do not need to have read The Faithful and the Fallen to enjoy reading this new trilogy as most big events from the previous series mention at some point in these novels. I would however, strongly encourage everyone to read the Faithful and the Fallen at some point because the series is just amazing! Ok, what is A Time of Dread about?
Over a hundred years ago, the Ben-Elim along with the giants and human warbands have vanquished the mighty demon horde of the Kadoshim. Now they rule the banished lands with an iron fist but peace has been established and maintained. At the edges of the known world, the Kadoshim are gathering their numbers and are devising a deadly plan to strike back. We follow 4 main POV characters in A Time of Dread each one better than the next. First we have Bleda, a prince of one of the clans of Arcona taken hostage by the Ben-Elim in order to ensure an alliance between the two forces. Nwxt we follow Riv, and warrior at Drassil training to join the Ben-Elims warband until she discovers a deadly secret that will change everything, not only for the Ben-Elim but the entire banished lands. Then we have Drem, Northern hunter doing his traps when he comes across a mangled corpse and the remains of an ancient meteor. What he discovers in the north will send a chill down your spine. Finally, we have the Giant Sig. She is a crossover from the Faithful and the Fallen Series and it was a joy to follow her team hunting Kadoshim and amazing battle scenes she fits in.
A Time a Dread is a much darker novel than any other book John Gwynne has written. Certain scenes were nothing short of bone chilling and at times it felt like I was reading a dark scene in a Stephen King novel. John Gwynne has stated that the creatures introduced in A Time of Dread were his spin on the horror elements we have seen over the years. As it has been accustomed to any John Gwynne novel, his characters are the shining beacon of this story. Reading about the inner struggles of Riv trying to find her place in this new world, Bleda living amongst the enemy while keeping his chin up and coping with his heartaches, and Drem’s scenes in the north were written so well that I literally felt like I was in the frozen tundra with him.
Along with the amazing characters this book is packed with action pretty much from beginning to end. Each chapter compliments the next in a never-ending cycle until you reach the end. John Gwynne writes the best battle and combat scenes I have ever read in fantasy and he does it in such a fluid and straightforward way that it seems almost to happen in real time. I encourage anyone who loved The Faithful and the Fallen to pick up a Time of Dread or anyone who enjoys epic fantasy in general.
John Gwynne’s books are starting to get a lot more popular around the SFF community and I couldn’t be happier. He will one day be a household name, if he isn’t already in the fantasy genre and any novel he writes from now on will jump to the top of my TBR/must read pile forever. He has had such a big impact of the stories, character, and world I want to read that I feel very few authors can even come close. His new series the Blood Sworn Saga can’t come soon enough!
Truth and Courage Mr. John Gwynne.