Review : The Pariah by Anthony Ryan

« When the task is a killing, be quick and make sure of it. Torment is an indulgence. Save it for only the most deserving. »

  • Release date : August 24th 2021
  • Publishing house : Orbit
  • Series : Covenant of Steel
  • Pages : 600
  • Book 2 : The Martyr

Spoilers ahead

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 ?

Characters :

Alwyn : Born the son of a whore, Alwyn has been an outlaw since his childhood. He lives in the Shavine Marches with his fellow outlaws led by Deckin Scarl. He is favoured by him and some important people in the group as he’s quick of wit and good with a sword.

I’ve loved following him during this book. He’s grown a lot in the span of 600 pages while keeping some aspects of his old self. The way he told the story, his intelligence, introspection and dubious morality really were enjoyable and showed his complexity and his growth.

“We fought and we bickered, but we also suffered cold and hunger together, as families do, and family is to be cherished, as is life… And life should not be wasted on pointless feuds or hopeless endeavours. This much I’ve learned.”

Thanks to the people he encountered, his skills and knowledge increased a lot and helped him survive more than once ! I’ve loved how cheerful he was when he was in a library. He went from a little outlaw to a fully fledged soldier.

“I’ve been a constant thief,” I told him. “A frequent liar, an occasional fraud and, according to need or rage, a murderer. But –” I tugged my arm free of his grip” — I’ve never yet abandoned a friend.” I gave him a thin, lopsided smile, my bruises aching with it. “I have so few, you see? So it rarely becomes an issue.”

Let’s talk now about the supporting cast of characters. From the get-go, I loved Deckin Scarl and was of course sad to see him suffer such a fate and to learn of his past life. Then, I’ve loved Toria’s acerbic remarks, colourful language and her loyalty. The Sack With also was a character I’d really like to see more of in the sequel ! And finally, Lady Evadine Courlain of course !

Story :

Reading a book by Anthony Ryan has always been a pleasant moment, especially his prose ! Obviously, Anthony Ryan’s covers have always been incredible and this one is no exception.

The story is exclusively told by Alwyn, an outlaw who’s quick on the uptake. Being part of an outlaw group led by Deckin Scarl, known as an Outlaw King in the kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn has learned to be a thief, a murderer and a liar. That is until a meeting with all outlaws living in the forest goes awry and sees most of them killed or reduced to slavery.

Sold to work in a pit with a woman he travelled with, he met an important woman from the main religion of Albermaine : Sihlda. And that’s thanks to her that something begins to change in him. During the years he spent with her, Alwyn learned many things (reading, writting, the faith…) and becomes a bit captivated by her. Upon her death, he (is forced to rather) enrolled into the Covenant Company to defeat the Pretender (Magnis Lochlain) under the command of Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman with horrible visions of the Second Scourge.

Like several reviews I’ve read, I’ve found the beginning to be a tad slow but it didn’t bother me. Part one is more about the introduction of the character, the world and it provided us enough time to grow attached to some characters. Part two deals with the aftermath of the betrayal and Alwyn’s path to becoming a soldier for the faith.

“All ambition is folly when it fails to be matched by reason.”

The Pariah may be one my favourite reads in 2021. Written as a diary, Alwyn’s voice is compelling and rich with feelings and personality. The ending worked great for me and left me wanting to read The Martyr right along !

Note : 5 sur 5.

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