Another fabulous book by Anthony Ryan has arrived.
This is the second book in the Covenant of Steel series – and if you haven’t read The Pariah yet, I highly recommend that you do. And just to help you on your way, here is my spoiler free review of The Pariah.
But onto The Martyr – what did I make of this book?
Once again we follow Alwyn – known as ‘The Scribe’ through a war torn kingdom. No longer an illiterate bandit, he’s fighting for and with Evadine, a beautiful woman who claims to be a ‘Risen Martyr’.
Due to events that transpired in the previous book, Alwyn doesn’t believe this claim, but is bound to Evadine nonetheless.
And so, with the newly empowered Evadine at his side, Alwyn tries his best to protect her from those who would use her popularity and Martyr status – and those who would kill her for it.
I won’t give any more of the plot away.
What I want to talk about is the writing – this is a masterpiece in how to build tension. We have several battles in the book, but it’s the words between them that build the story. Subtle changes to status, new lessons and new realisations heighten everything.
We see the story through Alwyn’s point of view, but he’s so bound by Evadine that he does things for her he knows he shouldn’t. And as he helps her, his own star grows. Kings and traitors alike notice Alwyn. His gift for detecting lies makes him an invaluable asset – and that also makes for an interesting part of the story. Power struggles are within as well as without.
In terms of setting – this feels like a real mix of Joan of Arc, Robin Hood and a period of British history known as ‘The Anarchy’ – alongside a Black Plague like ‘Second Scourge’ that is on the way. The set up for book 3 is incredible – and I’m really excited to see where the story goes.
There are many new characters to meet. My favourites were Lilat and Lord Roulgarth – and this is something else that Anthony Ryan excels at. Characterisation. He can very quickly draw a character that is both believable and intriguing. So much so that characters from The Pariah (who don’t appear in The Martyr) are still vivid in my mind.
I found myself thinking of this book often. Alwyn’s voice is very close. We know every thought. Every hidden desire. Every lie.
The ending was quite the cliffhanger too.
I don’t know how I’m going to wait for book 3 to be released.
Thanks for reading my review!