But first I want to made something clear: this is not a ground breaking fantasy story because it has plenty of the fantasy tropes we know:
...a Chosen One? Check.
...Good vs. Evil fight? Check.
...creatures already known in other fantasy books? Check.
...mystery character that is a warrior in hiding? Check.
...and I could include many other things. But you know what makes this special? The way all those tropes are included. It's SO WELL DONE. I mean, there are things I could see coming long before but it's done in a way that keeps stuff still interesting, like, you are actually happy to confirm them; apart from the ones when you only want to die because it's too much to handle but that's another matter.
I knew little of the story before starting to read it but of one thing I was aware of, I was said to prepare myself because characters die. Important characters. Characters you love. But how little I knew about the bare truth of this. This is even worse than A Song of Ice & Fire because in those books, most of the characters who died are secondary or is just lots of people you barely know dying around. But in Malice, NO ONE IS SAFE and when the first ones died I just keep wondering what beloved character will die next. IT WAS SO HEARTBREAKING. I think I lost it when Thannon died, I loved him so so much and I keep hoping he wasn't actually dead but he was truly gone and read about his hound Buddhai not wanting to left his side was extremely painful. Another awful death was Kastell's, this one was even more unbelievable because I was so sure I will be seeing more of him in the next book but again, John Gwynne crushed my soul. My hope now is for Jael to die in a slow and very painful death.
My favourite thing was the characters, there are plenty of them (and the names are so weird and from many different places over The Banished Lands) but eventually it's easy to identify them. We get to know at least a little about each one, the secondary characters aren't only noise at the background of the main ones and there is growth in them. And don't get me started on the main characters, they are so fleshed out, so beautifully written that I loved them almost from the very first page. Corban, the main protagonist is so special, yes, he's the Chosen One and all but damn, his growth through the story is so worth seeing and I can't wait to see what else is in store for him, he also has a bond with a wolven and she's so precious too! I love her loyalty and how she protects Corban at all costs.
Some other great characters are the healer Brina and her crow Craft; Gar, the stablemaster and the warriors Halion, Kastell and Maquin. Corban's sister Cywen, who wants to be a warrior and is the bravest girl ever. Corban's and Cywen parents are also great, I love to read about families like theirs, they are very supportive with each other and they love their children so much. A shout-out for characters like Aquilus, Brenin and Alona who aren't blinded by the power they hold and more than kings or queens they are to serve their people. Too bad they ended up dead but anyway, I love seeing this kind of rulers ❤ I could not mention princess Edana because even though she isn't too developed in this book, I'm hoping to see great things in her future! I'm not mentioning more names but trust me, I could keep going.
I don't want to say much of the plot becuase it's the kind of book when the less you know about it the better. But the story has so many surprises, some you see coming, some you don't but as I said at the beginning, the author manages to write them in a really good way; that's what I think at least. The Good vs. Evil battle I know doesn't look original but the author presents it in a different way. Please, read the next spoiler only if you have read this book and [b:Oathbringer|34002132|Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)|Brandon Sanderson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1507307833s/34002132.jpg|23840254] by [a:Brandon Sanderson|38550|Brandon Sanderson|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1394044556p2/38550.jpg] some of this I found quite the same as Dalinar's plot in Oathbringer, the part about champions and I really thougt Nathair was going to be like Dalinar, that he wouldn't turn bad but how little I knew! This went far worse than Oathbringer! T__T Something you need to remember while reading Malice is that what matters the most for the characters is "whose side you are on", there are plenty of characters whom you don't know if you can trust and what's left it's only to keep reading and find out.
It's very surprising that is John Gwynne's debut novel because I think it's pretty well written and I'm so looking forward to read Valour but let me say this: I have a feeling that this series, along with [b:Robin Hobb The Liveship Traders Trilogy|22463498|Robin Hobb The Liveship Traders Trilogy 3 Books Collection Set|Robin Hobb|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1402638746s/22463498.jpg|41900607] and [b:Mistborn Trilogy|6604209|Mistborn Trilogy Boxed Set (Mistborn, #1-3)|Brandon Sanderson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1257442247s/6604209.jpg|6798109], it's going to be an absolute favourite.