Review: The Pariah (The Covenant of Steel #1) by Anthony Ryan

Rating: 10/10

Synopsis:

From the international best-selling author of the Raven’s Shadow and Draconis Memoria series comes the spectacular first novel in an all-new epic fantasy trilogy.

Born into the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the freedom of the woods and the comradeship of his fellow thieves. But an act of betrayal sets him on a new path – one of blood and vengeance, which eventually leads him to a soldier’s life in the king’s army.

Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman beset by visions of a demonic apocalypse, Alwyn must survive war and the deadly intrigues of the nobility if he hopes to claim his vengeance. But as dark forces, both human and arcane, gather to oppose Evadine’s rise, Alwyn faces a choice: can he be a warrior, or will he always be an outlaw?

Review:

Note: This review contains minor spoilers. Many thank you to Nazia and Orbit books for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

The Pariah illustrates the tale of Alwyn Scribe, a thief who’s life is set on fire to journey to the corridors of dark power and corruption. To witness events that are beyond him in a grim-dark fantasy world where the concept of chivalry can be safely discarded for greed and corruption. This novel had fantastic action sequences, heart-wrenching moments of characters and a confident stand on where it stood. Alwyn never apologised for any of the actions he did in this novel, but he is not ashamed to admit it.

In one sense, Alwyn’s world is constantly changing. Whether it be serving the famous Outlaw King only to find himself running away as the King’s forces destroy the rebels, whether it be working in the Pit under a very deluded Lord that thinks high and mighty of himself. Alwyn goes through a personal journey of redemption yet commits acts that no one would approve of. This is as much as Alwyn’s story as it is of the companions that often surround him. Alwyn is a man living his life on a rope. He doesn’t trust anybody, and that forms a central arc for the rest of his novel. Most of the time he is confronted with terrible truths that no ordinary human could take. Half the time is spent dealing with horrible people that are the worst of the worst. Perhaps, he has his way with the ladies as well, to an extent. However, there were many memorable characters in this novel: Torah, Shilda, Evadine, Wilhum, Deckin. Each of these characters teaches Alwyn an important lesson along the way.

The writing is great, and the description of the world is more than enough to engage you. However, in some aspects, I felt the pacing of the story was sometimes dragged down by a bit of lengthiness here and there. Some scenes could have been shorter, and perhaps some weren’t needed. I particularly enjoyed the parts where Alwyn kept distrusting characters, but Alwyn did not always want to seem to change. I longed for some time where Alwyn could for once, not see the world as evil. For once, he would experience true bliss. In some cases in this novel, he does. But for most of what he experiences throughout his whole journey is loss, love, and more loss. He gains more than what he bargains for. He’s a very lucky fox. Let that be known, dear reader. He’s like a cat with nine lives. This is an excellent start to a wonderful series that I cannot wait to read and continue because I am sure of one thing. We are not finished with Alwyn’s journey. He has a lot more to give. In a way, I sense he may become the most powerful man in his realm one day. Or he could not, and he could become the most famous thief. Legends will be told of his tales when he passes away. I, for one, wish to read book 2 already. This is worth it! Thoroughly! Without a shadow of a doubt.

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