The Ben-Elim, a fierce race of warrior-angels, burst into the Banished Lands over a hundred and thirty years ago. They were in pursuit of their eternal enemy, the Kadoshim demon-horde. On that day a great battle was fought, the Ben-Elim and Kadoshim joined by allies from the races of both men and giants, and a great victory was won.
Now much of the Banished Lands is ruled by the Ben-Elim, who have made this world their home, extending their influence and power as they swallow ancient kingdoms into the protective grasp of their ever-extending borders. But peace is fragile within the realm and the Kadoshim that remain are now amassing on the edges of the empire….
Threats long in the shadows are about to strike.
I went into A Time of Dread blindly, having not read the earlier book series (The Faithful and the Fallen) that takes place in the same world. That didn’t slow me down though, since the events of the previous series happened over 130 years ago and all the history is explained very well through the different characters. I imagine I would have gotten more out of characters like Sig if I was more familiar with the world.
The book has four point of view characters: Bleda who is the son of a warrior clan leader, Riv who is training to become part of the Ben-Elim’s army, Sig the giant who is part of the Order of the Bright Star and Drem who lives in the Desolation with his dad, away from the Ben-Elim and the Kadoshim mess.
I enjoyed all of the POV characters and they all offered very different perspectives to things. Drem was the only one whose purpose I questioned a little bit in the beginning since he was so far away from everyone else, but it all connected in the end and he actually turned out to have one of the most interesting storylines. Sig and Riv were definitely my favorites because hello, warrior ladies. A Time of Dread actually had quite a few cool warrior women so thumbs up for that. Sig was especially cool because giants in this world live to be really old (I believe she mentions being around 700 years old) and she was also the main source of history for that reason.
A Time of Dread couldn’t have a more appropriate name because it’s really really dark and the whole book is basically building up a huge Ben-Elim vs. Kadoshim conflict in the future. I don’t wanna get too much into detail because spoilers but there’s a lot of death and violence and some of the things that happened were actually pretty shocking. There are plenty of battle scenes which I’m usually not a fan of because so many things happen they’re hard to follow, but I didn’t really have that problem with this book. The battles were definitely one of the stronger points in the book.
All in all A Time of Dread was a pretty cool book, and I might consider reading the rest of the trilogy because it did leave me wondering what’s gonna happen next, especially to Riv! Fans of dark fantasy should definitely check A Time of Dread out!
Guest post by the author John Gwynne:
Inspiration behind the characters of ATOD
Mostly my characters are 100% made up. They are creations that I have come up with that I think will be interesting and entertaining perspectives on the plots I’ve been cooking up in my head. Occasionally, though, there is some real-life inspiration that occurs. For example, the character Farrell in my first series, a friend of Corban’s, was inspired by a dear childhood friend of mine. A quiet, gentle soul set within a hulking body who was bullied and intimidated. He knows who he is.
In my new series there is a character who has a very clear and strong inspiration from my personal life. The young trapper, Drem is inspired by my youngest son, William. They do not share ages – Drem is twenty-one and Will is fifteen, but they do share some personality characteristics.
My son Will is on the autistic spectrum. He is high-functioning, and his autism is subtle. Some people would call him quirky. He can be anxious in new situations, and will have little ticks that highlight this. For example, he might put a finger to his wrist or neck and start taking his pulse. He finds the counting and rhythm soothing. Will is also profoundly logical, although sometimes that logic can seem baffling until you understand the perspective he is viewing things from.
I haven’t added a character with autism to serve the plot of my story. Autism isn’t a new thing, although recognising and labelling it is. I’m sure that many people were on the autistic spectrum throughout history, though without it being recognised as it is today. Drem has autistic tendencies. It’s not a disability or a problem, some disease that must be cured, it’s just who he is.
I thought this would make for an interesting lead-character. I’ve already written the classic young-man-becomes-a sword-wielding-hero, and didn’t want to write that again. Drem is a physical character, a trapper’s son who can handle himself, but who doesn’t like violence and would always rather solve a conflict by logic rather than by force. He comes across some mysteries and is thrown into a world of deception and violence, but tends to approach it from a different angle than your classic hero. Though, of course, he is a hero, because he’s inspired by my son, who without any shadow of a doubt is a definite hero to me.
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