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Released: August 24th 2021
Series: The Covenant of Steel #1
“My favorite part of the book was Ryan’s prose. His writing is so vivid that I caught myself wincing when I imagined the sound of bones breaking…”~ Under the Covers
The Pariah by Anthony Ryan is an outlaw epic fantasy tale that will leave readers eager for the next book. The author’s love of medieval history shines through, as his storytelling transports you into the world of the Covenant of Steel series.
The main character of the story, Alwyn Scribe, has a very trying journey over the course of the book. Alwyn’s story is one of survival. Loss has colored his time in the world, and he perseveres by focusing on the promise of vengeance against those who betrayed him. His travels take him to a variety of places, from the right hand of the Outlaw King to service in the army of a religious martyr (akin to Joan of Arc). Alwyn’s ability to leverage knowledge as power is unique in the story, especially for one so young. For example, his intelligence and ability to gather information for the Outlaw King earned him the title of “The Fox”. His knowledge of religious scripture affords him better treatment in prison and paves the way for his scribe training. I admire how Alwyn made the best of very difficult situations and stayed alive when so many others perished.
My favorite part of the book was Ryan’s prose. His writing is so vivid that I caught myself wincing when I imagined the sound of bones breaking and getting excited as I imagined the clanging of steel swords during the battle moments. The use of antiquated words like churls, palaver, tupped, and billeted helped immerse me into the medieval setting too.
I feel this book could improve the pacing of the story in the first third of the book (the initial 200 pages or so). I caught myself flipping through pages to figure out how long it would be till the next action scene. I realize that the author had a lot of work to do with character development and world-building, but it took too long for my taste. I’m glad I persevered past this and finished the story, as the last two-thirds of the book are amazing.
As a warning, there are a lot of gory scenes in this book (beheadings, whippings, and hangings just to name a few). I would not recommend this book if you have a weak stomach or you are a younger reader. But if you’re a mature reader of fantasy who doesn’t mind some quiet moments in a book of roughly 600 pages, then The Pariah is the book for you.
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