Reviews of all books

The Faithful and the Fallen


“Influenced by Gemmell’s Rigante and GRR Martin’s Game of Thrones – two good strands of DNA. Great characters and plot – it gets faster and more fascinating by the page. All I want now is for the author to put everything else aside, including his health – and write two or three more as fast as humanly possible. Hell of a debut: Highly recommended.” – Conn Iggulden

“Although this dark fantasy grew more complex, brutal and poignant with each pages turned, at the same time it’s filled with familial love and friendship that will warm and break your heart.” – Petrik Leo (

“As Conn Iggulden announces on the cover: it’s a ‘hell of a debut’. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.” – Laura Hughes – (

“It’s a real house brick of a book, weighing in at 628 pages, and it grabbed me right from the start.” – Dominish- (

“You will get attached and yes; it will hurt.” – James Tivendale – (

.”I’ve read some truly stunning debut novels in the past…but rarely have I read a debut as fantastic as this one that was the first in a series” – Celeste (

“This is the kind of fantasy I love to read and I truly can’t wait for the next volume.” – Sabine Gueneret – (

“My giddy aunt! Now THIS is what I call epic fantasy.” Kristy – (

“The battles are nicely done, plenty of epic swordfights, cavalry charges and the giants battling against men are some of the best scenes” – The Lord of the Night – (

“Character-wise, ‘Malice’ is truly top-shelf – John writes them with a deep understanding and empathy, so that even the ‘bad’ guys don’t seem so bad, and the good guys have their own failings and troubles.” – Dave Brendon – (

“All is revealed slowly, the backstory blending smoothly with current events in an effortless writing style that appears easy but no doubt takes a lot of hard work to achieve.” – Sandy Auden – (

“When you mix these entertaining characters with great lore, some nice battles, ferocious giants, sinuous wyrms, mighty draigs, and fearsome wolven, you have a really enjoyable classic, fantasy tale.” – Wendell – (

“Well worth your time and attention” – Zhaoyun – (Nerds of a Feather)

“The characters shine. They feel real and develop at a natural pace.” – MojoFiction – (MojoFiction)

“It’s not often these days that I find a book I entirely immerse myself in. John Gwynne’s first book Malice is one of these books.” – Niall Berry – (CultureFly)

“I loved the explosive ending, which makes you yearn for the sequel, as a good ending should do.” – Cindy Atemorizado – (DraumrKòpa)

“I would recommend this book to anyone who loves an action-packed fantasy book but expect to be on the edge of your seat throughout!” – Aoife Lawlor – (AoifeLawlor)

“Regardless of what side your favourite character falls on – pr what blade they fall upon – it’s impossible not to appreciate the level of care that went into their characterisation.” – Bentley – (BookBastion)

“I for one can’t wait to see the next book in order to discover how the characters develop alongside the authors skill at producing a cracking read.” – Gareth – (FalcataTimes)

“I would recommend this to anyone who loves high fantasy, or that loved Game of Thrones or Nevernight. This was one of the best books I’ve read all year…” – (Kayla at Graceling Accountant)

“Malice, a debut by author John Gwynne, it reminded me a little bit of Game of Thrones. I love grimdark fantasy and this appealed to me on so many levels. Great world building, great characters and a lot of magic.” – (Kaora’s Corner on Malice)

“Epic on a scale parallel to A Song of Ice and Fire.” – (L.L. McNeil)



Valour_Book“Valor is an amazing 2nd book of a series, it doesn’t suffer the infamous 2nd book syndrome and as a whole, it provides a highly engrossing experience.” – Petrik Leo – (

“As with Malice, I really enjoyed the parts of the story that were set in the Celtic-influenced areas. The settings are beautiful and vivid.” – Laura Hughes – (HalfStrungHarp)

“The Faithful and the Fallen seems like a much more hopeful and emotionally compelling story that A Song of Ice and Fire, and I believe that one day it will rise above these comparisons and stand firmly on its own as a classic of the genre.” – Celeste – (

“Where Malice showed that it’s not afraid to stand on its own amongst the giants of the genre, Valour, for me at least, shows that this is a series on its way to becoming one of those giants in its own right.” – Dominish – (DominishFantasyReviews)

“Valour itself is a stunning novel so I will not be distracted by how great the extremities are that this saga could reach.” – James Tiverdale – (FantasyBookReview)

“With excellent characterizations, a compelling story, and picturesque depictions of battle scenes, Valor proves itself to be a worthy sequel to Malice.” – Daniel Corner – (KingConanReview)

“As detailed and complex as Game of Thrones but with fewer slow points and a raft of memorable characters whose lives are at constant risk of a gruesome and bloody death.” – Charlie Hopkins – (CharlieHopkins)

“The saving grace of the genre are the writers who have taken the hint that readers would really like characters, silly names or not, who have human feelings and motivations regardless of the background to their story, John Gwynne is such a writer.” – Charles Packer – (Sic-fiOnline)

“The stuff of legends, for fans young and old, page-burning pace.” – Mike Evans – (WrittenWithaSword)

“Another aspect I particularly enjoy about Gwynne’s writing is his ability to describe battle scenes! They are always epic, easy to envision and extremely fast-paced. While some scenes are particularly brutal, Valour places its focus on the horrors of war, rather than glorifying in it.” – Bentley – (BookBastion)

“A solid second book to an addictive and compelling series!” – Luna – (



Ruin_Book“Ruin filled me with grief and joy like an unrequited love. Even though a lot of events transpired in this book made me really anxious, I can’t help but give my love towards this book for its epic scenes and heartwarming moments.” – Petrik Leo – (

“I heartily recommend this series to fantasy fans, historical fiction fans, religious fiction fans, war fiction fans, and anyone who likes their fiction with just a tinge of Scottish influence.” – Celeste – (

“It’s dark, thrilling and bloody. But Ruin’s strongest point is, for me, its characters. The author takes character relationships crafted throughout the first two novels – between friends, family, loved ones and, especially, animals – and brings them beautifully to the fore without overstating them” – Laura Hughes – (

“I think I just read the best fantasy book I’ve ever read.” – Paul O’Neill – (ConstantReader)

“This third book is a real treat for anyone who is a fan of epic, heroic fantasy, and shows that there’s plenty of life in the sub-genre so long as there are exciting new talents like John Gwynne popping up every few years.” – Dominish – (Dominish.wordpress)

“Mythical, magical, intense, brutal, poignant. If you are reading this and have not started The Faithful and the Fallen, stop being silly.” – James Tivendale – (FantasyBookReview)

“Yet, atop the raging actions and the mounting suspense, Ruin allowed ample times for developing its characters, world building, and all the while, it is telling a compelling story about truth and courage.” – Daniel Corner – (KingConansReviews)

“If you’ve loved the series so far, Ruin will make you SQUEE with joy!” – Kristy – (BookFrivolity)

“Put yourself some time aside to lose yourself in this epic. Just don’t expect to come out of it with your heart in one piece.” – Andrew Angel – (EBookWyrm)

“With the grim stage well and truly set, we readers knew to expect some serious grimdarkitude, and boy, does Gwynne deliver!” – (NerdsofaFeather)

“John Gwynne, how could you hurt me like this? I’m going to need some time to heal after this one. Engaging, fast-paced, and thoroughly brutal, I feel like Ruin certainly lived up to its name, because that’s what it tried to do to my heart a few times over.” – Bentley – (BookBastion)



Wrath“Watch out GRRM, while you’re waiting for the breeze from the ‘Winds of Winter’ to come, John Gwynne has appeared out of nowhere and he has conquered the genre, the apprentice has become the master.” – Petrik Leo – (

“Dark, bloody, proud: Wrath reinforces every value that The Faithful and the Fallen – and the fantasy genre as a whole – stands for.” – Laura Hughes – (FantasyFaction)

“I’ll be honest. I cried many times throughout the book. I cheered just as often if not more, and I ended up shouting “No! No! No!” in disbelief in instances. The book made me happy, it made me incredibly sad, and it had me excited all the way through. John Gwynne’s a bastard for writing this book.” – DarkChaplain – (ReadingLamp)

“Everyone no matter their favoured and preferred genre of book has a favourite series and The Faithful and the Fallen is mine.” – Drew Weldon – (TattooedBookGeek)

“It was all freaking epic. All four of the books in this series are nothing but EPIC!” – Melissa Martin – (MelissaReadsALot)

” I truly felt close to the created cast of The Faithful and The Fallen.” – James Tivendale – (FantasyBookReview)

“This final chapter is dark and grim , but with truth and courage, the heroes lighted the gruesome battlefield against the onslaught of darkness. I punched the air at moments when the heroes triumphed, I swore black curses whenever the villains gained the upper-hand, and I sighed in lamentations when tragedies struck.” – Daniel’s Corner Book Blog – (KingConan)

“Wrath has everything a loyal fan could be hoping for and is simply stunning in its execution.” – Charlie Hopkins – (CharlieHopkins)

“In terms of sheer fantasy awesomeness, this book has it all: battles to the death, memorable character moments and a culmination of 4 books worth of material that I won’t soon forget.” – Bentley – (BookBastion)

“The book alternated between happy and heartbreaking moments, and I often found myself torn between laughter and tears.” – Haifa – (Booksprens)

“The combat is grim, daunting, and explicit – and that combination is what makes it feel real. You can feel the crunch of a war hammer against armour, the thundering synchronised march of a shield wall, the screams of the dying, and the silence of the dead.” – Chris Meadows – (SFamdReviews)



Of Blood and Bone

A Time of Dread:

TimeOfDread_Book“The level of unease (dread) mounts relentlessly, the plot threads come together, and it steadily gets more exciting until you find yourself reading faster and faster and not stopping when you really should be sleeping.” Mark Lawrence – (Goodreads)

“If you’re a fan of epic fantasy, A Time Of Dread will feel like being in the hands of a master at the craft. For those entirely new to multi-volume sagas, this is a terrific place to start.” – Sebastien de Castell – (Goodreads)

“I loved A Time of Dread and read it from cover to cover in two days. I couldn’t put it down” – Christian Cameron

“A fierce, gripping tale, and one I found hugely enjoyable” – Anna Smith Sparks

“Great evils, conflicted heroes, bloody battles, betrayal, and giants riding battle bears! What’s not to love?” – Peter Newman

“Simply amazing and almost impossible to put down, A Time of Dread is truly a masterful start to a trilogy which I envision will be crowned as one of the best series I’ve ever read by its end.” – Petrik Leo – (

“Overall I’m sure the fans will love this book and I can see why there is such a big following out there for his books. I have just bought his first four books before writing this review so I must have enjoyed it!” – Steve – (TwoBaldMages)

“You needn’t have read the previous series of books to enjoy and follow this one.” – Keith – (TwoBaldMages)

“I definitely have a new favourite author and I am looking forward to losing myself in the world of the Banished Lands.” – Karina Read – (KarinaReads)

“If anything this is Gwynne’s darkest work to date. I should have known really looking at the awesomely designed cover. A Time of Dread contains amazing action scenes, shocking betrayals, intense battles, and a huge death count.” – James Tivendale – (FantasyBookReview)

“It’s a great start, giving us high stakes action, believable characters, and a world which carries some of the complexities and shades of grey of our own, whilst still feeling fresh and imaginative.” – Chris Meadows – (SFandBookReviews)

“I’ve given A Time of Dread five stars (surprise, surprise), and I truly can’t recommend it enough to any fantasy fan—or anyone simply looking for a good book!” – (Jordan of Forever Lost in Literature)

“Aptly titled, this book is filled with a sense of dread that only increases until the final hundred pages, which I flew through. I think that this series has the potential to be even more engaging than the original series was. ” – (Bentley at Book Bastion)

“A Time of Dread is a highly recommended and wonderful first book in the Of Blood and Bone trilogy and has delivered everything I hoped for and more. If you were not yet convinced before, the truth of it is now undeniable:

John Gwynne is an official member of fantasy’s the best of the best club.

Mr. Gwynne is a rock star when it comes to characterization and always writes memorable, fully rounded characters that you can easily love and hate, root for or against.

The pacing is juuuuuust perfect. It might still be early on in his career, but the author seems to have perfected the art of the slow reel, starting leisurely and pulling you in, building up the tension, before yanking you to the edge of your seat. While the early tone set for AToD feels much darker than the one of tFatF, themes of love, friendship, honour, family, and of course truth and courage are still ever present, and still form the foundation of this writing that has grown from strength to strength, book, by book. And the action… John Gwynne keeps on reminding us that he is second to none in the this department, whether it is large scale battles or mano a mano, his writing is so immersive and vivid that you cannot help but be transported to the scene of the violent, gory action.” – (Eon at Booksprens)

“I adored it, so I definitely recommend this to any fantasy fan and as suspected I am dying to read the next one. I definitely have a new favourite author and I am looking forward to losing myself in the world of the Banished Lands. Gwynne is a master story-teller. He weaves the lives of the four point of view characters excellently…and then blasts them apart in the last 20%. The one thing I need to enjoy epic fantasy is great characters and A Time of Dread has these aplenty.” – (Karina at Karina Reads)

“A few days ago I finished A Time of Dread by John Gwynne, and I loved it so much that it made my ‘best of’ list for 2017.
The long and the short of it – this book is epic – it has depth to the characters, it has scope to the story and it has meat on the bones in terms of world building…The characters are amazing and the tension that Gwynne creates positively grows into a monster that has you holding your breath anxiously.
In terms of the writing. Well, it’s very impressive. I have to say that Gwynne’s ability to write a vivid and exciting scene, be that a bear chase, a fist fight or a battle is absolutely excellent. I don’t think I’ve read such dramatic scenes before that are quite so easy to picture. He writes with practiced confidence and over the course of the early chapters shows the strength of will to take his time setting up the people and the place and this really pays off. This is a strong world, full of intrigue, history and varied races. Clearly Gwynne has already written a very popular series before and whilst I’m not in a position to compare the two I can’t help thinking that his past experience shines through here.
I don’t have any criticisms at all. ” – (Lynn at Lynn’s Books)

“A Time of Dread is a fantastic novel through and through. It feels immediately familiar if you’ve read The Faithful and the Fallen – which you should – while being more focused than the former…
I honestly struggle to find things wrong with this one. The pacing was steady from start to finish, it held my attention well enough to get me through some lengthy waiting room hours sitting at the doctor’s, and all plotlines flowed well and complemented each other. Things quickly fell into place as details and perspectives added up to provide me with a full view of the ongoing conflict.
Even the internal conflicts of the protagonists are believably written and close to heart. I believe I actually teared up twice while reading, too. John managed to make me care for the entire cast really damn quickly and all of the four major characters had their own arc to pass through and a satisfying climax. ” – (Dark Chaplain at The Reading Lamp)

“A Time Of Dread is a great book for new fans of John Gwynne to jump onboard (like MOI!) but remains faithful to the foundations built up over that stunning last quartet series and builds on the strengths showcased there for the older set of fans. And as the blistering action is getting hotter and the dread turning into terror in the Banished Lands, you had better hop onto this bandwagon. There is depth and grit to the characters, the narrative is frenetically paced and the explosive action hits you every ten pages or so, reminding of the peril that is growing large out there. In short, everything you could ask for, in an epic fantasy story. Potentially among my best-of-2018. Rock on, John Gwynne. Cannot wait to dig into that buried ice-berg now.” – (Sachin Dev at Smorgasbord Fantasia)

“A Time of Dread follows on from Gwynne’s blockbuster original quartet of novels, building on the world that he’s created to create a rich, nuanced and exciting new story arc for people that loved Malice.” – (Vicky at the Roaring Bookworm)

“Once again John Gwynne has managed to capture the imagination and attention of his readers! If anything I may end up liking this series more than his first…A Time of Dread has managed a perfect balance of well-written new and old characters, an engaging plot, and a wonderfully apt title.” – (Rebecca at Powder and Page)

“I have to say I expected good when I picked up this book, I got stunningly great…John Gwynne has created a world of stunning quality, depth and complexity…all I can say is WOW what an amazing feast for the mind…Like only the best writers, the author seems capable of making the fantastic utterly real and believable and thus transporting the reader right into the centre of the story.” – (Robin at Parmenion Books)

“A Time of Dread is…paced a bit like a barrel rolling down a hill…It races down the hill, always gaining speed. It hits a rock. It flies into the air. It crashes back down. It rolls on, hitting more rocks and throwing up dirt and grass until it crashes into the wall at the bottom of the hill and bursts apart in a stunning, splintery finale.” – (Hiu Gregg at the Fantasy Inn)

“The writing and pacing throughout the novel was really well done and you kind of feel that Gwynne is a practised writer. I especially liked the way the story gripped me and I was not once bored or felt like I could pause at one point or another because there wasn’t a lot happening…I’m so happy to have found a new favourite author of mine” – (Nadine at Nana’s Fantastic Reads)

“A Time of Dread couldn’t have a more appropriate name because it’s really really dark…
there’s a lot of death and violence and some of the things that happened were actually pretty shocking. There are plenty of battle scenes which I’m usually not a fan of because so many things happen they’re hard to follow, but I didn’t really have that problem with this book. The battles were definitely one of the stronger points in the book.” – (Jenny at Tecsielity)

“John Gwynne’s writing is magnificent, it pulls you right into the whirlwind of the events, it unravels the deepest secrets of the worlds and it keeps you glued to the pages, wanting to find out if the characters, that you grew so fond of, would overcome the dangers of the Banished Lands.” – (Alex at Whimsy pages)

“A Time of Dread is going to be on every ‘Best of’ list, and quite frankly you’d be daft not to move it to the top of your ‘must read’ pile.” – (Charlie Hopkins at the Fantasy Hive)

“What truly drew me in was the constant, relentless build-up leading towards the breathless final part of the novel: it was like listening to a crescendo of suspenseful string music, the kind we know heralds great portents, or great tragedies. A Time of Dread offers both, thanks to a story that is epic in scope and at the same time quite focused on individuals and their journey.” – (Maddalena at Space and Sorcery)

“As a reader, I find myself in awe of Gwynne’s ability to transport me into his work, he is a master of his craft and A Time of Dread finds him firmly at the top of his game.
If you call yourself a fantasy fan and you haven’t yet read Gwynne then you need to rectify that situation sooner rather than later as for me, A Time of Dread is the perfect example of everything that is right with modern fantasy and is sure to gain Gwynne a legion of new fans.” – (Drew at the Tattooed Book Geek)

“If you are a fan of epic fantasy, A Time of Dread needs to be on your wish-list.
It is full of intense fight scenes, dramatic plot twists, rich world-building, and characters that demand your attention. It absolutely has the makings of an excellent series and I cannot wait to see the journey Gwynne takes us on.” – (David at FanFiAddict)

“This was my first time reading John Gwynne, and wow, he is the real deal, folks…the book was incredibly thrilling and intense, leaving me thoroughly entranced and eager to continue the saga.” – (Mogsy at Bibliosanctum)

“If you are looking for a great example of quality fantasy writing, resonating with the widest possible reading age range, then look no further than A Time of Dread…This is without doubt an epic, which provides an effortless and enjoyable read.” – (Elaine Aldred at Strange Alliances)

“The world that John Gwynne has created in A Time of Dread is incredible, detailed and complex…A Time of Dread is an epic fantasy that has left me counting the days until I can visit the Banished Lands again.” – (Gem at Dyslexic-Reader)

“Well, it’s safe to say John Gwynne has knocked out another one of my all time favourite books! A Time of Dread is just deliciously dark, full of characters you either instantly love or ones you grow to love, and a plot that continuously builds up to something quite epic!
… this book is darker than the previous series; there was a foreboding atmosphere throughout, and the villain’s deeds were so much more evil. This is exactly what I wanted from a series set in the same world, for it to build on the story and have the stakes much higher…the action had my heart racing, had me reading so fast I was missing bits and had to reread, it truly was an amazing last 100 pages.” – (Nils at Nils Reviews it on A Time of Dread)

“A Time of Dread takes the Faithful and the Fallen storyline and turns it up to 11 in A Time of Dread. What a wonderful fantasy book that hits all the right chords and delivers a first book that makes your mouth water for the next in the series. I just hope it isn’t too long before we get to be thrust back into the Banished Lands to revel in this truly fantastic world that John Gwynne has created for us. Highly, highly recommended.” – (Nick T. Borrelli at Out of This World Reviews Blogspot)

“Simply amazing and almost impossible to put down, A Time of Dread is truly a masterful start to a trilogy which I envision will be crowned as one of the best series I’ve ever read by its end. John Gwynne has proven himself once again to be the constant harbinger of superlative epic fantasy that only the greatest of authors can achieve.” – (Petrik Leo at Novel Notions)

‘John Gwynne is one of the modern masters of heroic fantasy’ – Adrian Tchaikovsky‘

“Fast, truly dramatic and ferociously readable. AToD is a bridgehead into the heart of George Martin’s territory”– Tom Holt

“An accomplished and rousing tale of heroes and dark deeds that fans of epic fantasy will devour” – (Tom Lloyd)

“A brilliantly compelling heroic fantasy – likable characters with nuance, a story that builds at a perfect pace, and a thrilling, climactic ending that kept me reading late into the night. A wonderful book!” – (James Islington)