Read: August 21 - 26 Verdict: 5 Stars
Valour continues on directly after the events at the end of Malice. Now Corban is on a new adventure with his remainign friends and family left alive, and he is soon to discover the secret about who he really is. In other parts of The Banished Lands, Veradis recovers from another battle and worries about the fate of friends. Maguin wakes up looking for Kastell and Fidele is struggling to deal with a pirate lord who doesn't respect her. And so many more characters!
Wow, this book! It was packed with action from start to finish, I feel like no character even got the chance for a breather. Every chapter, from so many different points of view, had some kind of battle scene or even an emotional battle. There was a real sense of camaraderie between a lot of characters in this book, like Corban, Dath and Farrell, Veradis and Bos, Maquin and Orgull and Nathair and...Rhin? (vomit).
This book, even more so than Malice, had a touch of what I'll call George RR Martin syndrome in that Gwynne is not afraid of killing off his characters left, right and center. There was something that happened in the end of Malice that broke my heart and I really hoped it would somehow be okay in Valour, but no, my heart stayed broken. Gwynne has this power of making a reader mourn for the smaller characters in his books, ones that don't have their POV or could only be in the chapter for a few pages before they're killed. Every time I saw a new name, I was like "Oh no, please don't die."
I'm really glad that Veradis is having some sort of feelings towards someone other than Nathair. I really liked the small, subtle thoughts both he and Cywen had about each other. They are pretty well-suited I think. I really loved the relationship between Nathair and Veradis in Malice, but for obvious reasons, I now want Nathair to be eaten by his draig. And the thing is, I hate and like Nathair all at the same time. This book is a bit grey when it comes to good and evil, there are a lot of really great characters (Veradis) fighting on the wrong side and they don't even know it. Hell, Nathair doesn't know it and he's the cause! It makes for both an interesting and frustrating read as I just want everyone to leave Nathair. (view spoiler)
Also, I realised halfway through this book how AWESOME each and every female character is. Something that's rare in an adult fantasy book. There's very little emphasis on romance, love or sex. In fact, there's more or less none. From Cywen, Gwenith, Gerda to even Edana, each female character is really strong, and can fight for themselves. They're not afraid to put themselves in danger even Corban's mam Gwenith.
This was just such an amazing book, and I can't wait to read the next one!