Book Review: The Coward by Stephen Aryan

Title: The Coward

Author: Stephen Aryan

Series: Quest for Heroes #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Kell Kressia is a legend, a celebrity, a hero. Aged just seventeen he set out on an epic quest with a band of grizzled fighters to slay the Ice Lich and save the world, but only he returned victorious. The Lich was dead, the ice receded and the Five Kingdoms were safe. Ten years have passed Kell lives a quiet farmer’s life, while stories about his heroism are told in every tavern across the length and breadth of the land. But now a new terror has arisen in the north. Beyond the frozen circle, north of the Frostrunner clans, something has taken up residence in the Lich’s abandoned castle. And the ice is beginning to creep south once more. For the second time, Kell is called upon to take up his famous sword, Slayer, and battle the forces of darkness. But he has a terrible secret that nobody knows. He’s not a hero – he was just lucky. Everyone puts their faith in Kell the Legend, but he’s a coward who has no intention of risking his life for anyone… -Goodreads

The Review:

This was a massively enjoyable light fantasy read.

I forget that not everything I pick up has to be complex. Sometimes a straightforward companion-gathering adventure fantasy is just what the doctor ordered. I immediately latched on to Aryan’s writing style – there’s some sort of x-factor to it that just oozed “readability” off the pages. It’s rare I can comment on the writing style itself being such a fun element to a book and the accessibility of it would make it much easier to recommend to casual fantasy readers. I also like how he plunked the reader into a timeline AFTER some major things had gone down so we could get right into dealing with the aftermath. It was creative.

My favorite thing about the story was the subtle exploration of what a “coward” is and what truly constitutes as bravery. It gave me something meaningful to latch onto while reading. And while I don’t think the story ultimately landed at a profound finale, I still feel like I got enough out of it to warrant the effort.

The characters were great profiles. I particularly enjoyed Willow – a nonhuman protagonist who remains an enigma. Deciding to read on was based in no small part on my desire to learn more about her and her culture. I liked everyone else as well, but she’s the one I’ll be remembering long after I finish the series.

Recommendations: pick this up for a light and fun fantasy with great pacing and good bits of creativity.

Other books you might like:

Kings I’d the would

by Niki Hawkes

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