Book One of the Covenant of Steel
'A gritty, heart-pounding tale of betrayal and bloody vengeance. I loved every single word' John Gwynne
The Pariah begins a new epic fantasy series of action, intrigue and magic from Anthony Ryan, a master storyteller who has taken the fantasy world by storm.
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?
'The Pariah is Anthony Ryan at his best. A fast-paced, brutal fantasy novel with larger-than-life characters and a plot full of intrigue and suspense' Grimdark Magazine
'This is Anthony Ryan's best book yet' Michael Fletcher
'Fantastic writing, an amazing world, a plot that won't quit, and an unforgettable character . . . Anthony Ryan is one of the best epic fantasy authors out there' Bookworm Blues
'Gritty and well-drawn, this makes a rich treat for George R. R. Martin fans' Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Ryan (the Raven's Shadow series) impresses with this fantasy trilogy opener set in the kingdom of Albermaine. The author makes buy-in easy thanks to three-dimensional characters and intelligent prose that grips from the opening sentence: "Before killing a man, I always found it calming to regard the trees." These words are Alwyn's, a quick-witted young man who belongs to a gang of thieves headed by a duke's bastard. Alwyn is introduced while pretending to be witless in order to halt a procession of carts thereby enabling his comrades to steal the loot and massacre those protecting it. The haul includes a confidential message concerning King Tomas Algathinet's ongoing war with challenger for the throne Magnis Lochlain. Thanks to an epigraph teasing dramatic changes for Alwyn, readers know from the start that he will rise in station to become a knight in the king's army and that eventually Lochlain himself will describe Alwyn as the "far bloodier man" of the two of them. Ryan manages to make this early warning not to be charmed by the roguish Alwyn recede in readers' minds until a shocking betrayal brings it back to the fore and catapults Alwyn on his journey. Gritty and well-drawn, this makes a rich treat for George R.R. Martin fans.