Author: Stephen Aryan Publisher: AngryRobot Books
Before I start this review, I would just like to thank AngryRobot Books for providing me the opportunity to read this novel, in return for an honest review.
Kell is a man who has been forced into fame, a coward who had to learn how to be a brave warrior. I was instantly excited for Kell’s journey within this novel upon seeing the title – The Warrior – my brain began to imagine the adventure that Kell could take that would provide him with the opportunity to become the legend he had fallen into by accident in the beginning of The Coward. I was not disappointed – Kell absolutely shines in this novel and how he develops as a character is both heart-warming and satisfying as a reader. Aryan has done a brilliant job with his road map for Kell, between the two books in this duology, Kell has climbed from moment to moment and this novel does a brilliant job highlighting his progress as a hero.
I do not want to spoil the story within this novel so I will re-frame from any details about the characters too much. The story is fast paced, action packed and moves with a tempo designed to make the reader turn each page frantically. Every time I finished a chapter, I kept thinking in my mind that I would just read one more but after some time, multiple chapters had danced by. Even when I reached the end of the novel, I was ready to feel sad because such a great novel was coming to and end but instead I was happy and relieved. Often stories struggle to find an ending and leave readers disappointed, however Aryan did a splendid job of tying up all the loose ends and providing the characters with the endings they needed.
In The Warrior we meet a cast of new characters and we have one main return in Willow. I did an interview with Aryan, and he hinted that we would discover more about Willow within the second novel and he was not lying. The story focuses on her return to Kell, both characters interacting was great to read, providing information through their conversations as Kell’s own intrigue about Willow led the discovery. We are also joined by two new characters in Odd and Yarra – both of whom have backgrounds that affect the story. Odd was an interesting character, who is surrounded in mystery but at the same time seems so reliable to the King. Whereas Yarra is unsure about her own abilities but comes into her own as the story progresses. Both characters get their own chapters and both were a delight to read, which was good since the side characters can sometimes take away from the main story. The final character with a POV within this book is Kell’s wife Sigrid, whose story went in a direction I was not expecting at any point, even in the last quarter of the novel. Her story tackled the more religious elements in the book, which I enjoyed hugely as Aryan wrote this side of the story well. This section of the novel is the furthest away from Kell’s own tale but that isn’t to say it was enjoyable all the same.
I have read a number of Stephen Aryan’s novels at this point and my favourite element about his writing is the pacing. His novels are always packed with plenty of adventure and heroes, twists and turns, and I have never felt disappointed with the story. I really enjoy fast paced fantasy and Aryan’s novels hit that spot for myself! The Warrior may only be around 400 pages but it is packed to the brim with excitement, danger and character lore.