I feel like I am trapped in a hundred ongoing series these days, so it is both relieving and alarming to actually finish one. I recently got to wrap up The Faithful and The Fallen, by John Gwynne, with the fourth and final book in the series, Wrath. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, I have talked about it before and even had an interview with Gwynne about it. The story is a classic fantasy tale about a farm boy with a destiny, but the twist is there are multiple metaphorical farm boys. The series has been the freshest addition to the genre since The Wheel of Time finished a few years back, but does the final book of the quartet continue the tradition of excellence or fall short?
The short answer is it does both, but let me take some time to lay out what I mean. The strengths of The Faithful and The Fallen (TFATF) are John Gwynne’s punchy short form narration, great characters driving the story, and a constant shifting of the balance of power between good and evil so that each is constantly clawing their way to be slightly above the other in strength every few chapters. These elements combine to make TFATF a fast and exciting read, despite the books actually being quite large. The story itself is not the most original of all time, a chosen one of the forces of good must fight the chosen one of the forces of evil – it actually reminded me a lot of the plot of Star Wars. However, the strengths mentioned earlier on make TFATF shine like a bright light in the landscape of similar books.
Wrath continues to have excellent characters, and Gwynne’s great short form narration, but i found that with TFATF I enjoyed the journey more than the destination. Wrath does a fantastic job ending the story of TFAFT, nicely closing off a ridiculous number of plot lines with elegance that makes it clear Gwynne planned out his series meticulously. That being said, I liked the build up and twists of all the stories much more than I enjoyed their actual conclusions. Wrath has a lot of major battles in it, and looking at what my fellow reviewers are saying, a lot of people like that! On the other hand, I found the personal stories of the 100+ characters in TFATF the reason I came back to the series over and over again, and Wrath feels much less like all the characters getting personal endings, and much more like a grand fireworks display.
Despite my earlier comments, I can’t hold any of my complaints against Wrath because all the elements I don’t like revolve around the fact that the story is ending. The real reason I am upset is that TFATF is over. It is such a funny thing that all of us complain how long some series take to finish, but when I finish a great one like The Faithful and The Fallen I am heart broken that there won’t be more coming. John Gwynne has been very successful with his first series and has been talking about a new one coming out in the future, and I cannot wait to see what he has planned for us next.
Wrath – 7.5/10
The Faithful and The Fallen – 8.0/10