Malice by John Gwynne
I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book in the decade since its release, so I was expecting something a bit good when I cracked it open to start reading it. And to be honest, I wasn’t disappointed.
On the surface it’s a fairly typical chosen one epic, complete with mysterious prophecies, shadowy bad guys, political scheming, and mass battles a-plenty. But looking past that, you also get a well-told tale with some nicely crafted characters and some superb world-building.
As the first volume in a rather hefty tetralogy, it sets the scene well, and ends on a suitably tense set of cliffhangers. If the rest of the series follows suit, then I can see why so many people love. Unfortunately, for me, it misses out on that fifth star because it doesn’t really do anything new. There are no shocking twists coming out of left field, and everything that happens is predictable, simply because it follows the tried and tested formula employed by so many other epic fantasies before it.
I’m not saying it’s a bad book. If you like epic fantasy, you really will enjoy this one. I’m certainly going to be reading the rest of the series, and will probably do so sooner rather than later. Gwynne’s writing style is very readable, and the primary characters are all easy to get to grips with. It’s paint-by-numbers storytelling, but the end result is worth the effort.