- A Time of Dread (Of Blood and Bone #1).
- John Gwynne.
- 480 pages.
- Fantasy / Epic Fantasy.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
The Ben-Elim, a fierce race of warrior-angels, burst into the Banished Lands over a hundred and thirty years ago. They were in pursuit of their eternal enemy, the Kadoshim demon-horde. On that day a great battle was fought, the Ben-Elim and Kadoshim joined by allies from the races of both men and giants, and a great victory was won.
Now much of the Banished Lands is ruled by the Ben-Elim, who have made this world their home, extending their influence and power as they swallow ancient kingdoms into the protective grasp of their ever-extending borders. But peace is fragile within the realm and the Kadoshim that remain are now amassing on the edges of the empire….
Threats long in the shadows are about to strike.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review and I won a signed copy on Twitter, winning! 🙂
A Time of Dread takes place roughly 130 years after the conclusion of Wrath, the final book in Gwynne’s previous series The Faithful and the Fallen with the events that transpired on that fateful day now referred to as the ‘Day of Wrath‘. A fragile peace now holds sway over the Banished Lands with that peace maintained by the Ben-Elim who are still hunting the remnants of the evil Kadoshim.
It’s a different time, a (mainly) different cast of characters and a different story but it’s still Gwynne, it’s still The Banished Lands and it’s still absolutely bloody fantastic!
Will it surpass the greatness of The Faithful and the Fallen series?! Only time will tell but if we are going to delve into technicalities then the Faithful and the Fallen is a series and A Time of Dread is the first book in the Of Blood and Bone trilogy! So, there’s no reason that when we come to the end of book three of Of Blood and Bone that Gwynne won’t have one of the best fantasy series AND trilogies ever released!
I’m a huge advocate of Gwynne’s work and I recommend both it and him to any and everyone and as anyone who follows my blog already knows Gwynne’s previous fantasy series The Faithful and the Fallen is my all-time favourite fantasy series. Sometimes an author comes along and they solidify your love for a certain genre and this is what Gwynne achieves with his works, his books will make you love the fantasy genre!
Do you need to have read The Faithful and the Fallen series to enjoy A Time of Dread? The answer is an unequivocal no! Of course, if you are a seasoned fan and have already read Gwynne’s previous work then A Time of Dread will feel comfortingly familiar but at the same time also refreshingly different too. Your previous knowledge will augment and enhance your reading experience as you will already be familiar with the world, lore and history and you’ll enjoy seeing how things have changed in the Banished Lands over the time between the end of Wrath (the final book in The Faithful and the Fallen series) and the beginning of A Time of Dread. Also, reading about the new characters being direct descendants of the original characters in the Faithful and the Fallen and already knowing about those original characters when they are mentioned will bring out the emotions in you. You’ll mark out and smile when you read the names Corban, Coralen, Cywen, Veradis, etc and it’s a testament to Gwynne’s skill as a writer that these names from the past can elicit and evoke emotion in you as a reader.
But, no, as I stated at the top of this paragraph, 100% no, you don’t need to have read Gwynne’s previous work to enjoy A Time of Dread. For me, A Time of Dread stands firmly on its own both as a fantastic addition to the fantasy genre and as a starting point to the majesty that is John Gwynne.
A Time of Dread is told from the perspective of four main points of view characters, Bleda, Riv, Drem and Sig (a minor character from the Faithful and the Fallen). That’s not a large amount of point of view characters but the smaller number works extremely well giving each plenty of page time. That’s not to say that the cast of characters is small, it’s not (so many tremendous characters) and there are a large number of well-developed secondary characters who fill out the cast all with a role to play in A Time of Dread. The new characters themselves are all stellar and once again Gwynne showcases and gives us impressive characterisation. He is also a dab hand at incorporating animals into his work who are just as integral (you have to love animal companions in books) to the story as the humans.
I enjoyed reading all four of the PoV characters in A Time of Dread, each character was engaging in their own way and their storyline interesting but at a push I’d have to say that my two favourite characters out of the PoV were Drem who is just an all-around decent and good guy with a couple of quirks that add some individuality to his personality and the Giant, Sig who as I mentioned earlier in my review was previously a minor character in the Faithful and the Fallen and is now a main PoV character in A Time of Dread (Giant’s have a long lifespan). Being one of the PoV characters Sig helps drive the story forward and it was an absolute pleasure to see her flourish and witness her transformation from that minor character to a main one in this new book.
A Time of Dread takes us back to the Banished Lands, which are an exemplary example of world building. For those of us already acquainted with Gwynne’s world, we get to see how time has changed and reshaped the landscape as realms have come and gone. For new readers, you are in for a treat as the Banished Lands are one of the best fantasy world’s created. The lands themselves are vast but A Time of Dread predominantly takes place in only a few locations, the fortresses of Drassil and Dun Seren and the town of Kergard in the snow covered area known as the Desolation. The inclusion of various factions like the Sirak add more culture and diversity to the world.
There was a lot going on in The Faithful and the Fallen but it was mainly good vs evil, the Ben-Elim vs the Kadoshim and the Bright Star vs the Black Sun. With A Time of Dread whilst the crux of the story is still good vs evil there is a lot more politicking taking place and this time around, the overall tone feels a lot darker too with the intentions of the insidious and malevolent Kadoshim being truly sinister and monstrous.
Gwynne incorporates a wonderful way of storytelling and bridging the gap between the Faithful and the Fallen series and the Of Blood and Bone trilogy in A Time of Dread. He has elder characters recount and tell the young about prior events and the history of the Banished Lands. It’s a simple thing but it is used to remarkable effect.
The quality of Gwynne’s writing is once again tremendously high and Gwynne writes characters that you really do care about and hate in equal measure but who all come alive on the pages thanks to his skilful way with and mastery of words. Gwynne’s fight scenes are also epic, be they training ground sparring, hunting, arrows flying, sword fighting or full-on battle everything feels gritty, real and weighted, the action really packs a punch and leaps off the pages.
Gwynne does a great job of ramping up the tension throughout A Time of Dread building to an awe-inspiring finale. I didn’t want the book to finish! Gwynne is a masterful storyteller whose range of abilities are on full display within the pages of A Time of Dread. He excels at immersing you in his work. His pacing is excellent and he writes endings that somehow manage to end the book at the perfect moment leaving you with a sense of absolute joy at having just finished a superb read whilst also leaving you wanting more and eager to find out what happens next.
If you’ve read The Faithful and the Fallen series and are already an established Gwynne fan then it goes without saying that you need to read A Time of Dread. And, 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.
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.
Purchase A Time of Dread (Of Blood and Bone #1).
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