Book Review: THE PARIAH by Anthony Ryan

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 2 stars
Series: yes - first book

Blurb:

Book cover for THE PARIAH: title in black below painting of hooded person sitting crosslegged

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?

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I’ve had a lot of time to think over why this book and I didn’t gel (A&E is wonderful for reading and thinking about books!) I honestly think it was expectations vs reality, as I don’t think the blurb captured the book well, so set me up to expect something I didn’t get.

The biggest deviation is Evadine. The blurb makes her out to be a major part of the story, but she’s not even mentioned (and then only glancingly) until about 35% through. She doesn’t enter the book proper until halfway through. She is pretty important from then, though it takes a while for it to become obvious and any of the personal nature of Alwyn working for her to come into play.

The start of the book is about an outlaw who tried to get revenge and survive after betrayal in a country torn by war against a pretender to the throne. He goes through a lot of steps before becoming a soldier (at that 50% mark), but the way the blurb is framed makes it seem that the book will get to the soldiering and Evadine stage within the first 25%, and that sets up a very different set of expectations – which cannot be fulfilled.

And because I kept waiting for expectations to be met, I was getting frustrated when Evadine still wasn’t in the book, when Alwyn was still miles and miles from any chance of meeting up with her. I had no clue who this woman who was sold as this really cool character (she is, once she finally arrives) who was supposed to a major part was. That meant I never quite got into the book because I was waiting and waiting.

That lack of sliding into the world and narrative prevented me from really clicking once Evadine did show up. I hadn’t been able to get behind the character set up before that would endear me to Alwyn because before I’m been feeling like something was missing to make it what was promised.

I would be curious to see if a re-read, knowing what was to come, endeared me more, but that might take a while to happen as my TBR is pretty long!

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