The Pariah by Anthony Ryan – Review

Published: August 24, 2021

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Covenant of Steel #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 608 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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?


I feel like I say this an awful lot, but this was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021! I mean, I had quite a list of anticipated releases but I knew this was going to be a Big Deal since it was by Anthony Ryan and that synopsis was just fabulous. 

Alwyn was born in a whorehouse and then raised by outlaws in the forest. These weren’t the “take from the rich and give to the poor” kind either. They were straight up killers and they would steal from anyone that had something they wanted. That being said, this band of outlaws and their Outlaw King were the only family Alwyn had, dysfunctional though they were.  Until the Outlaw King ends up with his head on one side of an axe and his body on the other. Alwyn’s journey only gets more and more interesting from there, his occupations running the gamut from scribe to soldier and everything in between. The one constant is that he’s always a follower.

That may be one of the most interesting parts about this story since so many books focus on someone who becomes a leader, a savior, or other elevated figure. Alwyn is never this – he followed the Outlaw king, he followed the Ascendant Sihlda, he followed Evadine Courlain. Alwyn plays a supporting role and he does it well. The Pariah is like a Guy Gavriel Kay book in that it illustrates how seemingly unimportant people are important and small acts can twist fates. It’s honestly a fantastic change of pace from the main character being the savior of the whole world.

I loved this book and all it’s highly dysfunctional characters. There are almost too many to count and many come and go but all are memorable. The plot… well, I’m not precisely sure I could tell you what the end goal is, but I’m loving the journey. It’s a meandering path and this first book seems to be a very long introduction and how Alwyn ultimately came to be in Evadine Courlain’s service. I could be totally wrong – we’ll just have to see how the next book plays out.

This was a fantastic read and I couldn’t have possibly picked a better one to read on a really long flight. I couldn’t put it down! Literally, since I had NOTHING else to do but it was a great book since I also really didn’t want to put it down. I’m looking forward to the sequel, which will hopefully be out in 2022.

3 thoughts on “The Pariah by Anthony Ryan – Review

Add yours

  1. An excellent point about Alwyn being mainly a follower! I had to put off a bit because I was in the middle of this one, but I’m glad you loved it too. Great review! Can’t wait for the next one~

    Liked by 1 person

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