A Time of Dread
Publication Date: January 2018
Page count: 480
Goodreads: See here
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Plot at a Glance:
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.
If you’ve been following my reviews for the past year, you know I’m a huge fan of John Gwynne and the world he created in his original series “The Faithful and the Fallen.”
I breezed through all 4 of those books earlier this year, thanks in large part to the memorable characters and the epic thread of action that runs through the heart of Gwynne’s storytelling. When I found out that he had a new series coming out, I
pretty much begged whoever I could find was lucky enough to get a physical ARC from Pan MacMillan which transported me straight back into this world I love so much.
Because I know that people will ask: do you have to read the first series (Malice, Valour, Ruin and Wrath,) to understand what’s going on in this series? No, you don’t. This series takes place 120+ years after the events of the first, so while there is a nostalgia factor involved as characters or places from the first series are name-dropped, Gwynne does a really great job of setting this story apart from his last. New characters are introduced, and a totally new threat carries on that thematic subtext of good versus evil that was always present in the earlier books.
Still, as a big fan of the original books, I really did love all the throwbacks included for those fans. The inclusion of Sig, a giantess from the original series, as a POV character in this certainly helps to deliver upon that nostalgia. Because giants have extremely long life-spans, she helps to orient the readers to the ways in which the world has changed over the course of a century. It’s a helpful perspective for new and old fans alike.
Plus, it’s really nice to see Sig develop into such a strong character. The giant clans were some of my favorite aspects of the original series, so it was nice to see that carry over into this book too.
A Time of Dread is part creature feature, and part investigative fantasy thriller as each of the leading characters are made witness to the terrible events brought to bear around them. I appreciated that there were a few unexpected surprises thrown in to prove that nothing is quite as it seems and that the baddies are just as bad as ever.
While the threat from the original series may have been stopped, new dangers have arisen over the course of 100 years as various factions war for control of the entire realm.
Aptly titled, this book is filled with a sense of dread that only increases until the final hundred pages, which I flew through.
I appreciate that the storyline is a bit more political in nature than the original series. There are new perspectives to consider, and new factions vying for control. In some ways it feels like diversity is the name of the game this time around as we have POV characters from different cultures and backgrounds uniting against a common threat. Drem, Riv, Bleda and Sig give their respective chapters a unique flavor and perspective that had me constantly wanting to see where their experiences were going to take them next.
Per his usual, Gwynne’s characters are fantastic here. They’re well developed, and their motivations and actions make sense. There’s nothing worse than characters that betray their development for the sake of surprise in a story. These characters and their actions influence the plot as much as the plot influences them, which I love.
Also, can I just say that I love how strong women are featured in Gwynne’s writing? Sig, Riv and Byrne are all great strong women taking up the mantles from Coralen, Cywen, Edana and Brina from the original series.
It’s hard to explain why I’m only giving this 4 stars instead of 5 without spoiling. I will say that I was a little disappointed with one particular twist in Riv’s storyline. It felt half-told, and though I’m certainly it will be developed much more strongly in the following books, I appreciate when certainly story elements are self-contained within a book. Gwynne drops a lot of clues throughout, to the point that I saw the twist coming, but the reasoning why certain events occur are definitely left for later books to explain.
I think that this series has the potential to be even more engaging than the original series was. Fans of John Gwynne should definitely pick this up! While there’s a definite nostalgia factor to this book, new readers looking for some dark fantasy are sure to love this as well!
🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 4/5 stars! Sure to be another fun adventure!
How excited are you for this series? What other great fantasy series do you love, or are looking forward to? Let me know below!