Monday, March 30, 2020

Review: A Time of Courage by John Gwynne

A Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone, #3)
A Time of Courage by John Gwynne
Publication Date: April 7th, 2020
Paperback. 720 pages

About A Time a Courage:

"The demon king Asroth has been freed from his iron prison. Now, alongside his dark bride Fritha, he plans to conquer the whole of the Banished Lands. 

In the shadows of Forn Forest, Riv and the surviving Ben-Elim desperately search for a way to unite those who remain against Asroth's vast army. 

Far in the west, Drem is with the Order of the Bright Star, besieged by a demon horde. Their fragile defenses are on the brink of shattering, but they know that it is better to fight and die than to live without hope. 

And across the Banished Lands, armies are heading south, to settle ancient grudges and decide the fate of humanity."

What a truly phenomenal way to wrap up this trilogy! I've been thoroughly enjoying each installment in the Of Blood and Bone series from John Gwynne over the past few years and the fact that it's over is bittersweet, as it was a perfect conclusion, yet I'm still a little sad that's over. I know that Gwynne is already working on something new, though, so I know I won't have to keep my fingers crossed for too long for more fantasy from him!

A Time of Courage is the final, momentous occasion: Asroth has been released and everyone is readying to prepare for the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. As with A Time of Blood, I'm trying to refrain from mentioning any specific, characters, places, or plot so as to avoid spoilers for the previous two books as well as this one, so the only two characters I'll mention by name are Drem and Riv since they are both mentioned in the synopsis at the top.

Drem is easily one of my favorite fantasy characters and POVs to follow. He has some of the best development over the arc of this trilogy, starting out as a boy with limited knowledge of the world and the evils that exist and turning into a strong leader, fighter, and character with great respect for those around him (and who deserve it, of course). It's truly been a pleasure watching him grow, and his actions in this book were just as exciting and well-written as in the previous ones. The other character I'll mention is Riv, a fiery half-breed warrior who has had to jump through a lot of different hoops during her time training and eventually fighting in battles. Riv has also been fascinating to follow and she has easily gone through some of the most dramatic changes and experiences in these books, which helped to make her such an interesting character.

In addition to Drem and Riv, there are three additional POVs that we follow that I enjoyed just about as much as I enjoyed Drem and Riv's. There are a lot of great things about Gwynne's writing, but one of his strengths is in developing really well-rounded and interesting characters that you cant help but become invested in. Even the characters on the 'villain' side tend to have complex motivations that make them captivating characters to follow and learn more about.

Another element of Gwynne's writing that has impressed me since the start are his battle scenes. I've said in many other reviews that I don't tend to enjoy battle and fight scenes all that much because they are usually difficult to follow and, well, I tend to get to bored and just want to know who gets hurt and/or dies so that I can move on to the next scene. This has never been the case in any of Gwynne's books that I've read and it pleases me so much to get such satisfaction and enjoyment out of his battles. I'm not sure if it's just because of how much research he does or simply his passion for writing these and real-life interest, but the way he writes battle scenes are clear, compelling, and genuinely keep me at the edge of my seat following along with the action.

In a time of fantasy where grimdark is gaining in popularity (and look, I love some good grimdark!) it was refreshing to dive into a world that felt epic, classic, and optimistic despite the tragedy that befalls the characters. There's something so warm and welcoming about this trilogy--it's not that it's some light story or anything because it certainly gets extremely dark, but rather that there's something so classic about this that just reminds me why I love epic fantasy so much. It's authentic and full of big characters and big themes, an epic world with a strong magic system, and plenty of magical beasts and creatures, all of which combine to create a book that feels timeless, both  classic and inventive, all rolled into one.

Overall, I've given A Time of Courage five stars!

*I received a copy of A Time of Courage courtesy of Orbit in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

1 comment:

  1. You've convinced me to read this series! And I've been thinking of these books as grimdark so it's nice to hear they fall more on the epic side of fantasy😁