80% DNF Q&A: The Warrior by Stephen Aryan

Title: The Warrior

Author: Stephen Aryan

Series: Quest for Heroes #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1/5 stars

The Overview: The story of Kell Kressia continues in Book II of the gripping fantasy duology. Kell, two time saviour of the Five Kingdoms, is now the King of Algany. He has fame, power, respect, and has never been more miserable… Bound, by duty and responsibility, Kell is King only in name. Trapped in a loveless marriage, he leaves affairs of state to his wife, Sigrid. When his old friend, Willow, turns up asking him to go on a journey to her homeland he can’t wait to leave. The Malice, a malevolent poison that alters everything it infects, runs rampant across Willow’s homeland. Desperate to find a cure her cousin, Ravvi, is willing to try a dark ritual which could damn her people forever. Journeying to a distant land, Kell and his companions must stop Ravvi before it’s too late. While Kell is away Reverend Mother Britak’s plans come to a head. Queen Sigrid must find a way to protect her family and her nation, but against such a ruthless opponent, something has to give… -Goodreads

The Q&A:

This is a reviewing feature was borrowed with permission from Nikki @ There Were Books Involved. :)

Did you really give The Warrior a chance?

Oh yes. More than I should have, really. I made it 80% of the way through before deciding to throw in the towel.

Have you enjoyed other books in the same genre before?

As Fantasy is my favorite genre, I’d say yes. This wasn’t a case of not liking the type of story, but rather issues with the execution. Here are some great titles I thought comparable to the series: 

Did you have certain expectations before starting it?

I enjoyed the first book in the duology (The Coward) enough to buy myself a copy of this book. I was reasonably sure I’d like it and was actually predicting it would be better than the first book. At the very least I expected it to deliver what was promised on the back of the book (we’ll get into that shortly).

What ultimately made you stop reading?

I got fed up. The whole premise of the story was that the fantastically enigmatic non-human main character called Willow needed help with something in her home country. I signed up for the experience of getting to see her culture and all of the cool world-building that entailed.

The trouble is, even as far in as 80%, there were practically NO insights into her people. We reached a town, but there were no descriptors of this town even just as a town, let alone how it differed from anything you’d find in human society. We also didn’t get any additional depth to Willow’s character more than just seeing a little more emotion from her. It was a massive disappointment.

Most of the book was about the two main characters discussing Willow’s problem, reiterating Willow’s problem, then traveling and camping while, you guessed it, talking about Willow’s problem. This would’ve been okay had there been other plot points and world-building nuggets to draw me along, but as it was it felt like a complete waste of pages.

Well, saying there weren’t other plot points is a bit inaccurate, which leads me to my “misleading book summary” gripe: there was a random character included in the story (Odde was his name) who as far as I read had the only compelling conflicts… of the supernatural variety. O_o say what? I tell you, it was so bizarre. There’s this random new character with a problem that didn’t fit into the structure of the world at all and yet he ended up with the most plot-progression and page count. I didn’t want a book about Odde. I wanted a book about Willow.

When it hit the 80% mark and became clear my desires for the story weren’t going to be realized, I set it down in disappointment. Folks, I made it 80 percent into a quick fantasy read and decided it wasn’t worth my time to see where it ended.

Was there anything you liked about The Warrior?

I liked the basic flow of the writing. It’s very accessible and one of the main reasons I enjoyed the first book. While that remained the same, everything else dropped in quality.

Would you read anything else by this author?

Ooooh this is harsh, but I took his other works off my TBR after my experience with this. I may try future books from him, but no longer have any interest in his backlist.

So you DNF’d the book – would you still recommend it?

Despite how much I really didn’t like The Warrior, I’d still endorse The Coward as a fun, lighthearted fantasy read. I know a few people who liked The Warrior, but I just can’t get past the disappointment enough to feel comfortable endorsing it.

by Niki Hawkes


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