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Book Review: The Pariah

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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?”

Title: The Pariah

Series: The Covenant of Steel #1

Author: Anthony Ryan

Page Count: 600

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Date Read: September 8th, 2022

Anthony Ryan and The Pariah specifically hit my radar in 2020 and I’ve had it on my want to read list since. The stars finally aligned that this book was chosen for a buddy read group that I’ve started reading with as our September read.
 
This is a story of a young man both trying to find his own identity but also survive in what seems like a rather harsh world. I’ve come to realize that Alwyn is perhaps both the luckiest and unluckiest man I’ve read in quite awhile. I won’t elaborate on that anymore as to not spoil the story. I will say that both sides of that spectrum could be subject to your own point of view or perspective the world that Anthony Ryan has to put together.
 
The character development was right up my alley. We get to learn quite a bit about many of our characters along the way, not just Alwyn our main protagonist. We get a good feel for several supporting actors. I won’t spoil as to anyone specific but if you like your stories to have most of the characters you begin to grow attached to survive to the end of the book, this might not be the one for you! I definitely felt some strong connections to several characters along the way in The Pariah.
 
The pacing was great for me. We did have some relatively slower points here and there but I never really felt like I was pushing for a slog at any one point. We definitely have some great action scenes and this could be included in the world building as well but lots of intrigue and character connections throughout the book. We may even have a couple that resurface much later in the book, one that I had honestly even forgotten about!
 
As for the world building specifically I thought this was done really well. We get a couple of different times that are clear breaks both in dates as well as regions of the world. Each of those let us learn quite a bit about where the story is taking place at the moment. We still have several hints of other larger or more specific regions to explore in future books which is always exciting as well.
 
A couple of my favorite things about The Pariah are that it is a relatively low fantasy world, meaning that there might be a bit of magic or divinity here and there but it is minimal which was a great change of pace for myself. Another aspect that stood out for me was the way that Anthony Ryan describes combat. Most of this is described in great details in close quarters. Even when ranged weapons come into play we typically get the view point of either the person firing or the person being struck. There didn’t seem a lot of arrows, bolts, etc. that kind of come from a vague direction and they either hit or miss. We get descriptions of how someone is holding and thinking when firing these weapons or the feeling of being hit by them or seeing someone right next to you being hit. To me this really helped immerse me into the story in those moments.
 
If you are looking for a low fantasy with little magic and the characters depending more on their wits and skills to survive this fantasy world this might be a good read for you. Or if you’re looking for a story about a young man trying to figure out who he is and survive the outlaw, religious and nobility world, again this might be right up your alley!

World Building 5/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4.5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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