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Pariah by Anthony Ryan

Pariah by Anthony RyanPariah Series: The Covenant of Steel #1
on August 24th, 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 609
Rating: five-stars

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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?

I’m so thankful I won an advanced reader copy of this book. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Ryan, and it seems when I’m in a reading slump, his books always pull me out.

The book is told in the first person by Alwyn Scribe and is pretty much the story of his life, starting at a pivotal moment. We follow him as his once-familiar life gets turned upside down and events set him on a path of mystery and greatness. And there’s a fair share of mystery, and I have loads that I need to know still. 

For those of you who are fans of Ryan, this book won’t disappoint. For those unfamiliar with Ryan, I think you’ll enjoy it. My mother, who has yet to read any of Ryan’s books despite my pleading, has started reading this and hasn’t put it down. My mother might actually be more picky of a reader than me, which says more than I can about Ryan’s storytelling talents.

I think where Ryan shines through every book I’ve read is his world-building. It’s always rich, grounded, and fleshed out without massive info-dumping. He leads us into his world through scenes that naturally unfold and explain what the hell is going on. When I sit with his books, I’m never nervous. He’s earned my trust as a magnificent author who gives what I need when I need it.

This book is heavy on fictional religion with a dose of politics but it’s not burdened by them. The story moves from a forest to a pit mine to a battlefield and keeps us along for the ride. The settings are described with efficiency and fullness. I don’t think those who love description will be disappointed nor those who feel bored with description—balance in all things. I will say there’s a battle scene that I think was done wonderfully well. So many battles I read are massive events told broadly. Ryan boiled that down to the perspective of one and showed the gritty horror of it. I loved it!

The characters are all wonderful and fleshed out. I will admittedly say this is the first book of Ryan’s where I didn’t feel attached to the characters, yet somehow it satisfied my desires and I enjoyed them all. My mother, on the other hand, has grown fond and attached to a few. For me, I was looking for more emotion from Alwyn. He certainly had a past to support a bit more of an unstable mental state, but I found him pushing through events faster than I wanted. Now, I will say that I was riddled with interruptions while reading this book, so perhaps that played a role in my distance.

Overall, this is a wonderful story that moves along at a nice pace and got me out of my reading slump, which is all I really need to say. It’s due to publish on August 24th, 2021, so now is a good time to preorder!

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