Ruin by John Gwynne

Haven

Became a Faceless Man
#1
Unlike many, I did not particularly like the second instalment in this this tetralogy (Valour).

The first book (Malice) was quite good, if somewhat uninspired..I appreciated it for the character building and the depth of narrative, and also because it was huge(in length)..which is more or less essential for me these days.

The second book was in my opinion, quite a disappointment. I found it far too predictable and prophecy-based and some of the primary antagonists were quite dumb. I still managed to finish it (with some difficulty, since apparently John Gwynne doesn't do short books), albeit with some disappointment.

I picked up the third book mainly because I very rarely give up on book series and frankly I had nothing much to read for this month. Thankfully it was a pleasant surprise and a large improvement over the previous book.

The worldbuilding is standard epic fantasy, the mythology isn't the most original out there, but this is an undeniably gripping book. There are a TON of POVs and characters and most of them are very well fleshed out and their separate threads are nicely woven together. It's also larger than the previous books, so it kept me occupied for a long time

I quite enjoyed this one, but there's nothing revolutionary about this series, just standard epic fantasy.

7.5/10
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#2
I am not so big on the length of Gwynne's books; I think there is a lot that could have been cut out. For example, I am in the middle of Valor right now and here is just one example

he takes far too long and drops far too many hints about Corban and company making wolven cloaks...first Corban skins the wolven pack, then it is mentioned that the skins are stinking, then he gets them tanned, then he makes the claws, etc., etc., and probably a few other mentions...

and another

Maquin's internal monologue in general -- about Jael, about the fighting pits, whatever
.

Also, I think a lot of the protagonists in Valor get out of situations too easily, like

when Corban gets captured by Rhin, his friends are there and getting him out in no time flat
.

That being said, I personally like Valor better than Malice. Because a little more happens -- in Malice, there was too much bickering with Rafe, too much discussion of sword training, etc. You need to strike a balance between worldbuilding and advancing the plot. (Or you become The Skull Throne.)

I don't hate these books, and I will probably continue the series. I agree that prophecy-based fantasy is predictable. I guess we'll see what I think when it is released in the US.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#5
Ruin is driving me to distraction, whatever that means. The good guys always get killed or lose. The bad guys keep killing the good guys with abandon, and succeed with everything they do. The bad guys all want to bring an evil god/the devil (?) to the land so he can something something, it's never clear why they want to do this or what he will do once he's here. The bad guys also align themselves with evil demons who inhabit bodies of the dead good guys, and these demons are incredibly good at swordplay and not dying again. The bad guys also try to find and get rid of this kid who is the prophecy-fated warrior for the good god, and the kid has no idea why he's been chosen or what he should do. They call it the god wars but the gods never fight, only the humans do. What's up with that?

What it's all about, I have no clue. I was one of the first here to praise this new book called Malice, a great debut by a rising star John Gwynne. Now I have my doubts about the whole thing.
 
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Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#6
I actually liked this one. More than the previous two. Some plot lines were tied up and some things I had been waiting for finally happened. And the good guys did have a few victories mixed in there. As for Corban and how/why he was chosen, if you make it to the end, there is a revelation about that.
 

Haven

Became a Faceless Man
#7
there is a revelation about that.
I for one, did not see that revelation coming, but having read the revelation, I guess it is this series is no longer
prophecy-based fantasy ?
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#8
I for one, did not see that revelation coming, but having read the revelation, I guess it is this series is no longer
I didn't see it either but I actually really liked it.

Sometimes it is better that there is not some grand design. Prophecies are limiting in a lot of ways. Now Corban doesn't know what to do and I'm pretty sure he doesn't know Meical is dead because I think he disappeared before that battle. So there are some interesting parallels with Nathair's situation set up. He can go on outwardly pretending that he is the chosen one, he can 'fess up, he can refuse to address it -- like he kind of did when they were choosing which direction to travel earlier in the book -- etc.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#9
I'm glad I didn't have to wait for the big news, thanks to you both. Doesn't matter. I'm at 30% now and of course being swept along with Fidele and Maquin. Anyway now I'm liking it as much as the first two because it has settled into the rhythm of good epic fantasy with innumerable story arcs.
 
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