The first few chapters of Malice are very slow. I remember reading those at a very busy time in my life and then putting the book down as it just didn't seem worth using the time to force myself through. Then back around spring break I actually sat down to finish it. Yes, I'll be the first to admit that these books are a hefty commitment, emphasis on hefty because wow those are fat books to be carrying around, but trust me, they're actually really worth what can only be described as an epic length. While the Faithful and the Fallen doesn't fall into an absolute favorites category, I can promise you they are enjoyable reads that will suck you in with an intriguing plotline and fascinating world. Overall I'd give the series 7/10 stars. I did end up binging out on the last three books after finally finishing the first. It's like the first is the giant scale up the mountain, and the rest you're on a sled going down the other side of Everest. Though they are riveting reads, I have to admit there are some very prominent flaws with the stories that really irked me, especially after finishing the series, but more on that later.
I would highly recommend this series to anyone who has a love for epic high fantasy stories, the kind with individual storylines that eventually intertwine. There's war, lots and lots of war, high stakes, and some intriguing mythology. Anyway, if you're interested here's a little overview on what this series is about.
It's actually pretty hard to explain without giving anything away since the scope really expands more and more after the first book, but I think it's pretty safe saying that the story starts out with four main characters-- or really three main characters and one almost main side character: Corban, Veradis, Nathair and Evnis.
Corban is a peasant boy, dreaming of the day he turns fourteen so that he can join the training to become a soldier. (If you're thinking wow that's young, I don't really want to be reading a middle grade novel-- don't worry! Not a middle grade novel, and A LOT of time passes over the course of these books (which makes sense seeing how gargantuan they are). Corban ages quite a lot throughout).
Veradis is a skilled soldier, who befriends Nathair-- a prince with big aspirations and plans for the future.
And Evnis... well, I'll let you see about Evnis.
These are only the MAIN characters of the first book, there are a lot more characters and storylines woven in throughout the next novels.
Anyway, that was a sucky synopsis so here's a real one:
A black sun is rising …
Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.
The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.
High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.
Things I loved about these books: the plot and the character development.
These are really plot and character driven books. And trust me when I say they have truly FANTASTIC plots and character development. Seriously if you compare the characters from the first book with the last book you'd think they're completely different people. And you got to travel along on that journey to see them become those different people. That's pretty amazing-- getting to see all the choices and key moments that lead to different things. Like a fearful cowardly boy growing into a courageous leader. With its huge cast of characters, this series really provides great and interesting perspective.
And the plot? That's explosively good. Like I love all the planning with that and the intertwining mythology. To go along with the plot, the action is really well written and will keep you on the edge of your seat, really putting you right there on the battlefield with all your favorite (and least favorite) characters.
Things I did not like about these books: the relationship development.
While the plot and the characters are great, the way the relationships are written and built up to just isn't satisfying. Like, you can see that a lot of time has passed so it makes sense for those connections to have been made-- definitely not an instalove connection, but it almost feel likes instalove because you never get to see the small moments building up to those relationships becoming a relationship. I'm not just talking romantic, I'm also talking just about friendships and connections in general. Basically what you get to see with the relationships is the very beginning of each one, maybe a couple of words hinting at whatever in the middle and then the fully formed relationship at the end. What's really missing is that middle bit, the building part that helps the reader to really grow attached to said relationship. Because of that, there weren't many created relationships that I much cared for throughout the story. The relationship building definitely takes a backseat to the plot, which leaves me feeling a bit empty seeing as a truly satisfying action/fantasy story has a good balance of both.
It's been so long since I read the series that I honestly couldn't tell you what my favorite book is, it's either Valor or Ruin (Book 2 or 3), but I can't remember which. They're both good-- actually they're all good, so it's really hard to remember which one stood above the other. My favorite characters would have to be Cywen and Storm, though I did like Veradis (I sorta see him as a sweet puppy in my eyes haha) and Corban.
(SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD, LOOK FOR NEXT PARENTHESIS FOR END OF SLIGHT SPOILER IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW MY LEAST FAVORITE CHARACTER)
My least favorite character, without question would be
Seriously, I despised him throughout all the books. I was always waiting for him to have some sort of redemption in my eyes, but he never redeemed himself to me. The amount of texts I sent my cousin ranting about him is probably absurd. Seriously, I think I remember saying something about wanting to push him off a cliff just high enough to break all his bones but not kill him so that he would just have to lie there dying. Anyway... More on that in the spoilery section of the review just so that you know... I don't spoil everything for you.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on this series! If you're interested in the slightest, don't be afraid to pick Malice up! And if you're bored during Malice JUST PUSH THROUGH IT. It'll end up worth it, I promise you that.
SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE SERIES
I'm sorta lazy so I'm just gonna copy and paste some of my texts to my cousin about this series haha.
(About the disappointment in the lack of showing relationship development)
"Like Fidele and Maquin... You don't really get to see the development... You see them meeting and you know they travel together and all the sudden they're in love and willing to sacrifice anything for each other. You know it's happening in the background but there's no good lead up."
"Or Veradis and Cywen. You know they travel together and have been talking but you don't actually get to see any of it."
Interesting fact: Veradis and Cywen were actually the only relationship that I actually did fall in love with. the rest I didn't really actually feel much connection to. I spent MANY late nights saying I'd read till the next Cywen chapter, or saying I'd read until they reunited... Only that took a VERY long time haha. And then much to my irritation-- actually anger-- there was never actually any good romantic pay off, despite the fact that I waited two long books for them to reunite and then when they do NOTHING HAPPENS. They barely interact. UGhhhh.
Here's a cleaned up text that I sent about that
"And I'm also pretty pissed about Veradis and Cywen. I literally wait two and a half giant books for them to be reunited and when they do nothing happens. Then at the end of the book I'm like cool, maybe some interaction? Nope. They still don't get together. It's strongly implied they WILL because they think about each other so often, but nothing actually occurs. Just another example of how the plot revolves around all just action as opposed to having some focus on the characters' relationships with each other."
And on my opinion on the finale:
"Very epic, had fun reading it BUT as a finale I was a bit disappointed. Right after this huge epic battle it just feels rushed to finish it-- I'm not left with the closure I was expecting and feeling like I needed. Perhaps an epilogue would have done the book good as it would help wrap up some loose ends and leave me a little more satisfied."
And if you're wondering about my Nathair hatred. Wow. That's an endless well to be diving in to. In fact, I'm not even going to post the majority of my texts about them seeing as they are pretty evil with LOTS of cursing haha.
I just thought Nathair was so full of himself, on a power high for the majority of the first few books. I really was looking forward to seeing all of that come crashing down, and when it did I thought it might open the door for some great character development that might actually lead me to liking him. Unfortunately... when it came crashing down for Nathair it didn't matter because HE STILL CHOSE TO BE A DICK. UGh. Also I was hoping for MORE from his death scene since he's been such a big series character, but it ended pretty quickly for him. Good that it was Veradis that killed him though.
Don't have much to say about the prophecy stuff other than to say I LOVE that it wasn't a real prophecy and that it all ended with just humans being evil as opposed to it being about gods. (Yes, Asroth was involved, but it was Nathairs choice to CONTINUE ON and all his choices actually that lead to that war. )
Anyway, those are my scattered thoughts. Thanks for reading :)