Holy crap that was a good book.
If you take nothing else from my inane ramblings, take that I thought "Malice" was an excellent read and recommend it.
Set in a pseudo-Celtic world of giants and mortals known as "The Banished Lands", "Malice" tells a woven tale of multiple souls caught up in a battle between good and evil.
Shades of Dante's Inferno color "Malice" as the machinations of the Lucifer-analog, Asroth try to bring about the destruction of the world through mortal agents. There's Evnis, an overlooked second-son with ambition and some serious psychological issues. There's Veradis, a loyal swordsman and warrior who feels overshadowed by his older brother and neglected by his father. There's Nathair, who suffers some epic delusions of grandeur. There's Kastell, a slighted young man who takes a convoluted journey to find out who he really is. There's Cywen, a girl with a warrior's heart born in a world where women aren't generally permitted to fight. And finally there's Corben, the brother to Cywen, who just wants to become a strong warrior to protect others but is lined up for far more than he bargained for.
"Malice" is an easy read, with solid, flowing storylines. Gwynne does the multiple point-of-view thing that George R.R. Martin is famed for, and isn't above taking a POV character off the board. His magic, like Martin's, is terrifying, if a bit less-understated. Oh, and there's a few other familiar tropes.
Still, it was quite enjoyable. I placed an order for book two of his series before I was even half-done with book one (which I just finished a little over two hours ago). If you're looking for something half-way between an Arthurian legend and "The Song of Ice and Fire" books, I'd suggest picking up "Malice" and giving it a read.
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