Tom Owens's Reviews > Ruin

Ruin by John Gwynne
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it was amazing

Verdict: 4.5 stars out of 5

The third of John Gwynne’s Faithful and the Fallen tetralogy absolutely flies by. The pace is really starting to ramp up as the battle for the Banished Lands begins to move towards the endgame. All the pieces are in play and most of them (with a few key exceptions) know (a) there is a game in motion and (b) which side of the board they are on.

The world of the Banished Lands is rich and beautifully described. Gwynne has taken Celtic elements and twisted them together with those from Middle Earth-type tales to create something which is familiar yet distinctive. The various cultures and races are diverse without being stereotypical or parodies of real life. And onto this playing field he has dropped a delicious mix of characters who are beginning to sharpen into focus.

Whilst there are still shades of grey to a lot of them we are becoming much clearer who the good guys and the bad guys are. There are some crackers here as well; Camelyn, Veradis, Calidus, Edana - too many to name on both sides of the battle. There is a depth to the main players, many are complex and driven by multiple competing desires and dreams. This is war, things don’t go according to plan and people have to make tough choices. John doesn’t shy away from making those choices, though it is probably true to say that at this point I think you do have an inkling of who is going to survive and who isn’t. Nevertheless you find yourself having an emotional response to almost every character and event, evidence that you have begun to care what happens to these people.

As a narrative, I think this is really, really well written. The choppy nature of the multiple POVs works for me, especially in moments of conflict when Gwynne switches sides and we end up seeing multiple angles of the same event. The pacing is excellent as well, moving seemingly from fast-paced action scenes to slower plot-building sections without any discernible grating of gears.

John writes exceptional battle scenes but the attention to detail extends to slower moments as well. You always feel you are where you need to be across the multiple storylines and rarely do you find a segment that feels misplaced or out of sync with the whole. The balance of magic and good-old fashioned warmongering again works. Magic is present but not the dominant feature of this world and Gwynne settles effortlessly into what he knows and what he likes – just punctuating it with the odd bit of sorcery as and when it is appropriate.

I alluded to the pace before but this really does hammer along at a rate of knots. Malice was a slow-burner as we were introduced to Gwynne’s world, Valour ratcheted up the tension and Ruin takes it up another level. Part of this is helped by Damien Lynch’s excellent narration on the audiobook which keeps you interested and wanting more, but at a fundamental level this is very simply a really, really well written tale which I cannot wait to conclude.
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Reading Progress

November 9, 2015 – Shelved
November 9, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
January 23, 2017 – Started Reading
February 13, 2017 – Finished Reading

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