Published: June 28, 2022
Publisher: Orbit Books
Series: Covenant of Steel #2
Pages: 576 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Martyr is the second novel in The Covenant of Steel, a new epic fantasy series of action, intrigue and magic from Anthony Ryan, a master storyteller who has taken the fantasy world by storm.
Times have changed for Alwyn Scribe. Once an outlaw, he’s now a spymaster and sworn protector of Lady Evadine Courlain, whose visions of a demonic apocalypse have earned her the fanatical devotion of the faithful.
Yet Evadine’s growing fame has put her at odds with both Crown and Covenant. As trouble brews in the kingdom, both seek to exploit her position for their own ends.
Sent to the Duchy of Alundia to put down a rebellion, Alwyn must rely on old instincts to fight for his new cause. Deadly feuds and ancient secrets are laid bare as war erupts, a war that will decide the fate of the Kingdom of Albermaine and, perhaps, prevent the coming of the prophesied Second Scourge.
The story begins with Evadine Courlain’s claim that she is a Risen Martyr challenged by both king and church. Through some careful maneuvering, she is ultimately recognized as such but then she and the Covenant Company are sent southward to the duchy of Alundia to put down a rebellious duke and the unorthodox belief that has taken root.
Here we get a fantastic siege set up and some truly excellent battle scenes. Think of men climbing siege ladders only to be furiously hacked down by the soldiers above, deadly arrows in the night picking guards off the battlements, and the tension within as the siege continues. At times I can find extended battle scenes somewhat tedious, but I never find that to be the case with Anthony Ryan’s writing. I’m always compelled to keep turning pages with nary a sign of boredom and perhaps that’s helped by the narration of Alwyn Scribe. I enjoy his narrative voice immensely and the fact that he tells this story in his old age, where he’s reflecting back on his younger days really fascinates me. It leaves me wondering what steps he might have taken to end up such an influential person in history, as the little snippets before each new section imply.
One of my favorite parts of the book was, unsurprisingly Alwyn’s sojourn with the Caerith people. You may recall that the Sack Witch in the first book was one of the Caerith. Ever since she was introduced I was super curious to learn more about her and her people, plus you know, cool magic. I loved this part – it was a nice refreshing break from the continuous battles and it sort of opened the door to the larger scope of things. This story goes beyond kingdoms and duchies, for the Second Scourge is coming.
This was a fantastic sequel that left me hungering for the next book. If you enjoyed the first book, I’m sure you’ll love the sequel just as much. Also, lemme just give a shout out to the cover artist for such a cool looking cover – Alwyn looks like such a badass!