Sebastien Castell's Reviews > A Time of Dread

A Time of Dread by John Gwynne
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy

A Time of Dread is that rare sort of epic fantasy that not only appeals to fans of the genre, but also embraces new readers. The world is rich and complex, but you never feel lost or find yourself desperately reaching for a map. The four main characters have the nuance and troublesome qualities we expect from modern fantasy novels, and yet they retain just enough of the classic heroism that got so many of us into the genre in the first place. The plot twists and turns in unpredictable ways, and yet each time it pulled me along, never once making me want to put the book down.

This first book in the Blood and Bone series follows four main characters: Bleda, Riv, Drem, and Sig. Each one is a hero in their own right (none of this sticking you in the point of view of someone you end up hating), but each one struggles both with the strange events going on around them and with their own sense of right and wrong. It's within this subtle and shifting moral landscape where Gwynne really shines, never opting for the easy answers. He'll throw a group of righteous winged saviours your way one minute only to have you questioning their puritanical devotion the next. The moment you think you've found the side to stand with against them, you'll discover that they, too, have their dark secrets.

The very uncertainty about each group's motivations that keeps you guessing throughout the novel is precisely what gives Gwynne the latitude to let you trust in his heroes. They might question, they might make mistakes, but they never suddenly turn around and do something vile just for effect. To the contrary, they carry you along with them every step of the way, so that their dilemmas over who to trust become yours.

I try not to gush unreservedly about novels, so I won't here. Those looking for that constant gritty edge we've come to associate with Grimdark fantasy won't find it here. This isn't the book where you put it down and go, 'wow, I can't believe someone wrote something that dark'. Sure, there's some evil stuff going down in A Time Of Dread, but it never celebrates that stuff. It is, on some level, a book that treats the reader gently, even as it carries them through scenes both tragic and triumphant.

One final note: though set in the same world as Gwynne's previous series, you don't need to have read it to enjoy this one. If you're a fan of epic fantasy, A Time Of Dread will feel like being in the hands of a master at the craft. For those entirely new to multi-volume sagas, this is a terrific place to start.
71 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Time of Dread.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

September 22, 2017 – Started Reading
September 22, 2017 – Shelved
September 22, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
October 2, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jye (new) - added it

Jye Moffat Did you get to read an early edition? if so, you're one lucky bastard ahahaha I've been looking forward to more Gwynne books since I read the faithful and the fallen series, and as soon as I heard of A time of dread and bone I was so hyped, looking forward to it's publication here in Aus.

Sebastien Castell Yes, I was lucky enough to be sent an advance copy. I believe it comes out everywhere in January.

Aram Brazilian I liked your comment that it's "a book that treats the reader gently" - that was a nice way of putting it...

back to top