4.5 stars out of 5.
The book blurb:
In the south, the Breach stirs.
Gamma’s sword, the Malice, wakes, calling to be taken to battle once more.
But the Vagrant has found a home now, made a life and so he turns his back, ignoring its call.
The sword cries out, frustrated, until another answers.
Her name is Vesper.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Malice is the sequel to last year’s The Vagrant, my review for which is: here.
The Malice takes place a number of years after the conclusion of the first book. Vesper, the baby from The Vagrant is now a young girl and is the central main character in The Malice. Without going into to much detail about the story (for anyone unfamiliar with my reviews I don’t use spoilers) after the events that transpired at the end of The Vagrant, the Vagrant himself, Harm, Vesper and the Goat have found peace living on the outskirts of the Shining City but The Malice, Gamma’s sword start’s stirring, the Vagrant won’t answer the sword’s call to be taken up once again and instead Vesper does, taking her on a journey to return the sword back to the Breach and once more to battle.
The Malice is a mix of fantasy, sci-fi and post-apocalyptic elements of books. A mashup of genres that works really well, you have sky ships and advanced suits of armour along with robotics and mechs which are the sci-fi part, sentient swords and demons which are the fantasy part and a world where disaster has happened leaving it a ravaged wasteland with hardly any resources which is the post-apocalyptic part and all three converge together to bring you a unique world that is well thought out and richly crafted.
Alongside the story arc’s taking place in the present in The Malice we also have flashbacks dating over a thousand years before to the creation of the Empire of the Winged Eye, this adds an extra dynamic and element to the book as while the main story is involving it helps breakup the present story arc, giving the reader a glimpse into the past and the world before and it is interesting to find out far more about how the Empire and Seraph Knights were first created adding to the world building and both the history and lore while expanding the world by elaborating on the past.
Just like in the first book the plot is quite linear as the story moves along at a quick pace moving from one location to the next until the conclusion, however that’s doing the writing an injustice as while linear Newman does a great job of making each location different and each journey along the way exciting with different challenges to confront for our characters.
Along the way on our journey back to the Breach we re-visit locations from the first book and it’s really interesting to again meet a few of the characters we knew in The Vagrant and see how their situation has changed over the years since the events at the end of that book.
The cast of characters are well developed, interesting, have varying personalities and are all unique ranging from the main of Vesper, Samael, Duet (the harmonised) and the kid (a baby Goat).
Yes there’s another Goat, though this time the cranky, curmudgeonly old Goat from The Vagrant only plays a small part in the story through to the other major character in Samael and finally onto the Infernal’s, who have awesome names like The Yearning, Gutterface, The Backwards Child and Hangnail and are all grotesquely described and different.
As I mentioned with the Goat from The Vagrant, she only plays a small role in the book, likewise so do both the Vagrant himself and Harm only appearing at the beginning and end of The Malice as this is Vesper’s tale.
I think that the kid has to be my favourite character in the book, I know, I know, he’s only a Goat I here you all say! But Newman does a tremendous job of bringing him to life on the pages and he is a top quality character who is a tenacious little scamp who you can’t help but get behind and root for whenever he’s mentioned.
In the beginning it took me a while to like Vesper, at first she comes across as slightly annoying with her childlike enthusiasm, exuberance and constant chattering, though I think my dislike was merely down to the fact that she is so completely different from the mute Vagrant in the first book as with him, Newman was able to create such a unique silent character and was able to get so much emotion and feeling across in the descriptions of his facial expressions and hand gestures that Vesper just seemed irritating to start with but as you follow her on her journey and watch her grow in maturity as she makes tough decisions and overcomes obstacles progressing to the books finale she turns into a really engaging main character and while there willbe those who miss the silent protagonist from the first book Vesper herself was a great choice to continue the story in The Malice.
To conclude, The Malice is a terrific, well written, fast paced read that expands the scope and world of the first book while giving you a captivating, original story in a unique world with complex characters you really care about, an exceptional read.
Fans of the fantasy, sci-fi, SFF, post-apocalyptic and horror book genres will all find something to like in this book as will anyone else just wanting to try and read something different and hey, if you buy books merely based on the cover then you will also be in for a treat as the book is a quality read and the cover art is stunning and fits the tone of the book perfectly!