Angry Robot Blog Tours pres. The Warrior by Stephen Aryan

Hello all

Stephen Aryan returns with the second book in The Quest for Heroes Duology, The Warrior, which was released by Angry Robot Books on 9th August. If you haven’t read the first book, The Coward, then I urge you to go ahead and read it now, and don’t wait because it is brilliant, and then come back and read this review, although, if you don’t have the time to do that I will try to make this as spoiler free as possible.

Now, when the clarion call went out for potential bloggers to join in this tour, I knew I had to try and get on this tour, and I must thank Caroline Lambe from Angry Robot books for giving me this opportunity to read the book and join this tour promoting this fabulous book (and by that little comment you can guess that I bloody loved the book!)


The story of Kell Kressia continues in Book II of the gripping fantasy duology, the Quest for Heroes.
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…

File Under: Fantasy [ The Quest Continues | Make Way for Malice | Hello Beasties | Unlocking Potential ]

The Warrior takes place about two years after the events of The Coward. Following Kell Kressier’s return from the frozen North and the death of the Ice Lich, he now finds himself a monarch, and married to a Queen, Sigirid in fact!

In the last book, Sigrid was a minor character who only had a minor role to play in the story. However, in The Warrior she becomes a major part of the story and has the most fantastic arc in the book. The changes in her from beginning to end is one of the most interesting aspects of the story. I don’t want to tell you happens to her, but you will definitely join the consensus of readers who all love her story arc.

The story itself is very similar to The Coward, and when Willow arrives to remind Kell of the pledge that Kel made to her, she takes him to the land of the Alfar in order to attempt to defeat the sickness that has infected Willow’s homeland called The Malice. Kell obviously wants to fulfil his obligation, but he does not want to leave his wife and his son, especially after the rift that is between him and his wife is on the way to being mended.

Besides Kell, Willow, and Sigrid, Stephen Aryan introduces to us some new characters, the mysterious Odd, and broken soldier Yarra. Of the two, Odd gets the most page time whilst Yarra is in more of a supportive role.

One of the things that I like about these books is the fact that these books feel very much like standalones that are connected, and they seem to read as separate stories in the same universe.

As usual, Stephen Aryan writes fantastic characters and for me this is the standout aspect of his books. We get to see more about Willow and the lands of the Alfar which was very interesting, particularly the effects of living in the human world for so long on her. Odd, is quite simply Odd. Initially, I thought that he was on the Autism Spectrum, but then new information is introduced as we see things from his point of view, and my opinion changed, which I am not going to expand upon any further as it would be a major plot spoiler.

There are quite a few similarities in The Coward  with The Warrior, and at first you think that the journey that Kell takes is very similar to the first book, but instead of travelling to the frozen North, this time he is travelling to the corrupted North. And again, much like The Coward, there is a cavalcade of monsters and beasties to contend with. However, it is not too long that you realise, much like the first, that the use of the journeying trope is a device to hang what is actually going on underneath the story, and that is one of the things that I admire about Stephen Aryan's writing is that it has layers, and whilst you have this brilliantly written, fast paced adventure story on the surface, there are other things going on under the water. For me, I think that the book is indeed a journey, however, it is not the physical one, it is the metaphysical aspect of the characters journeys, and each one does indeed undergo a journey. Not just from Kell's perspective, but from Willows, Sigrids, Odd's and the world of the Alfar in general.

With The Coward, there are a number of themes being explored, like PTSD and the experience of soldiers coming back from war amongst other things. Similarly, there seems to be a number of things being explored in The Warrior, which seemed to me to be exploring how we deal with grief, firstly following the death of a child, and secondly in Willow’s case, her perception that she has lost her world and all she holds dear. In addition to that there is Odd's acceptance within society. There also seems to be some discussion about climate change and how that will affect us, especially with the Malice. For me, I thought I also spotted the question of why do soldiers return to war, and now I am not sure if that is there, but I interpreted some of these things, and this theme was quite personal for me as my own grandfather who fought in WW2 as a medic also went into the Korean War in the fifties. Now, you must understand these may not be themes that are being discussed, but it was what I took away from it.

I have to say I loved The Warrior just as much as the first book, which I felt was a five star read, mainly for Stephen Aryan’s writing. His prose is fast paced and quickly immerses you in the story and environment. In addition to this, he writes some excellent action scenes. I loved learning about the Alfar, their customs, and seeing this expansion of Willow’s character and her people. Sigrid, as I have said before, is a phenomenal character and steals the show everytime she is on the page.

Oh, I forgot Reverend Mother Britak! Yeah, she turns up again! I wondered why  this wasn’t explored as much in the last book, but I had an inkling that this story line would turn up in this book, and it most certainly does.

With The Warrior, Stephen Aryan proves that lightning does indeed strike twice and I found this one a fantastic wrap up to this Duology.


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