• The Pariah

  • The Covenant of Steel, Book 1
  • By: Anthony Ryan
  • Narrated by: Steven Brand
  • Length: 19 hrs and 57 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (88 ratings)

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The Pariah

By: Anthony Ryan
Narrated by: Steven Brand
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Publisher's Summary

When the task is a killing, be quick and make sure of it.

Torment is an indulgence.

Save it for only the most deserving.  

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?

The Pariah begins a dark and bloody new fantasy epic from New York Times best-selling author Anthony Ryan, whose books have sold more than a million copies worldwide. 

©2021 Anthony Ryan (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK

Critic Reviews

"A master storyteller." (Mark Lawrence)

"A gritty, heart-pounding tale of betrayal and bloody vengeance. I loved every single word." (John Gwynne)

"The Pariah is Anthony Ryan at his best. A fast-paced, brutal fantasy novel with larger-than-life characters and a plot full of intrigue and suspense." (Grimdark Magazine)

What listeners say about The Pariah

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Internering story however…

The firat thing I reacted to is the amount of gore and lengthy descriptions of how people are killed messily. This feels unnecessary to me, the plot and story is well above average without this addition. I don’t generally mind characters swearing, but I prefer a little more ingenuity than constantly and often using the f word. Historically this is also a rather modern swear so it makes no sense to me and, again, spoils rather than helps the novel. I really like the characters, plot and intrigue though and will buy the next book in the series - but I hope Ryan stays away from more in-depth descriptions of what war is like in a pike wall, for this description seems very very unrealistic to me.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story sadly undercut by monotone reading.

Although I loved the voice of narrator, I can't help but think it was too monotone. The cadence of speaking was sometimes too fast for the situation, some characters lacked emotions. Still the story was amazing and I'm happy to give another chance to the narrator.

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Amazing book

Amazing stuff. The story follows flawed but likable and smart rogue on his way to redeem himself and it kept me on the edge till the very end. This book is one of those cases where you feel sad when you finish it. That is how good the quality of writing and narration are. Highly recommended.

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  • larry underwood
  • 09-05-21

another good one

Finished it in a couple of days, now the long wait for book 2.. Steven Brand as excellent as ever.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Swords and Spectres
  • 10-17-21

Very slow and very dark

This review may contain mild spoilers.

I had been looking forward to this one since I first saw it being advertised as a 2021 release on Twitter. So, I think that perhaps I was a tad guilty of putting this on a pedestal before ever having read the first word. Although I enjoyed large parts of this, I didn't enjoy it completely and was left feeling a tad deflated.

One thing I will say is that I enjoyed how this felt more of a real fantasy than a fantastical one. There is magic, but it is more the hedge witch kind of magic and is so infrequent that you often forget it's there. I enjoy my fantastical fantasy but do like dipping my toes in a more grounded in realism fantasy every now and then, so this was a pleasant surprise.

One of my main issues is purely a personal one. I really enjoyed the outlaw/Robin Hood style set up that Alwyn and the group who took him in had going. Sadly, that felt more like a 'setting the stage' style portion of the book rather than anything truly meaningful. A shame, as I had fully hoped to get invested in a tale of vengeful outlaws. There is a whole quest for vengeance, but it seems to dilute over time and never really picks up to the heights that Alwyn promised to himself nearer the start.

I also feel that the mood you're in will completely effect how you enjoy this book. It is very bleak. There is very little joy in this book for the characters and what little there is often has misery and pain waiting two steps later. I found it difficult to get absorbed for too long after a hard day at work due to this but, as with my earlier issue, this is mainly a personal one.

I enjoyed the religious background created in this but just wish it had taken more of an equal billing in the plot alongside Alwyn's quest for vengeance. As it is, I feel it took more of  driving seat and further added to the dilution of the vengeance plot as the chapters rolled by. I also feel the pacing suffered. I felt from the blurb that I was in for a fast-paced, dark adventure. What I got was a slow-burn dark adventure that never really got past being slow-burn. It always felt ponderous where I felt at times it could have ramped the pacing up a tad. 

The dialogue is wonderful throughout, something that, as a writer, I can attest is a very hard thing to achieve. So bravo to the author for that. It always flowed well and sounded natural. I also really enjoyed the action scenes (some of which feature some very grim and inventive imagery).

The narration for the most part was wonderful. Steven Brand's voice suits this kind of gritty world perfectly. My only gripe is that there was little to no effort made when voicing characters to make them sound different to one another. A bit of effort in that part would have given the piece a whole new dimension.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Marco P.
  • 10-10-21

Gave up after the quarter of the book

Haven't read anything from this author before so I had no expectations. avid fantasy and sci fi reader and I like expansive books. However this book was so linear and when things happen they barely register in the story so it becomes a slog.

it could also be the narrator, he is articulate and have a very clear voice however he has zero inflections and keeps his voice completely straight and monotone making the story become even more boring.

in the end I had to stop. I just heard a droning voice, suddenly registering that some time has passed and I knew nothing of what happened.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-06-21

Crafted Excellence

Anthony Ryan's ability to tell a story is outstanding, made by the rich lore in a world that is expansive yet understandable with characters you know, love and hate all through fictitious words. The plot itself is gripping and contains twists telling of great care that Ryan has for this series. While battles are described with realism and care, some moments of combat are some what lacking in tension the book makes up for with purpose in every scene. Pace in the pages of this book is nature and the story moves on when you would expect but doesn't rush - as the detail is what makes the ending and overall arch satisfying, rewarding and, most importantly, interesting to the last word.

The Pariah is definitely worth reading, no matter in what form though the narrator, Steven brand, has a knack for performing the story as if it were written for him to tell.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-21-21

Couldn't stop listening

I really enjoyed this book and could not stop listening. The narration was also very good. I am excited for part 2.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kendo Hannen
  • 01-09-22

Robin of Sherwood meets Ferris Bueller

Alwyn is a fantastically real character right from the first page! cannot wait for the second installment. The readers performance is also top notch.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ben in Herefordshire
  • 11-09-21

Superb

Another great tale from Anthony Ryan.
Throughly enjoyable.

Very much look forward to the next installment

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • William
  • 10-17-21

normal for anthony ryan

a tried and tested formula for the auther. dosent push the boat. trys to recapture the blood song first book but falls short. as have all his books since thatbone really. we have the orphan. the teachers and the cause yet again. sigh

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Patryk
  • 02-08-22

Great book! looking forward to book 2.

The usual fantasy style book, but gripping and interesting nontheless. Very interested how thr story will progress.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Robert
  • Robert
  • 11-25-22

Some good parts within a slog of aimless plot

You get one start, then dragged back and given another only for the book to end in yet another introduction to the characters and the series. The book doesn't know what it wants to be unfortunately. As a fan of other books of Anthony Ryan, this one was quite the disappointment. I'm not sure I'll be continuing the series.

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  • Boris
  • 08-31-21

simply amazing

one of the best books I had please reading to date. characters are rich and well developed. story keeps you on the edge of the sit throughout entire adventure. a must read!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ben
  • 01-24-22

Unsatisfied

This is no Blood Song. The way events transpires left me unsatisfied. Even when you expect satisfaction from an event, someone else’s comes along and boot you in face. The Main character imo is someone who just trudge along.

I wanted to like this but it more like picking up a very nice ripe sweet looking apple and then taking a bite and when you get is a bland soft inside with a slight bit of sweetness. It’s ok to eat, but it’ll leave you wanting better.

Also, very heavy on religion which isn’t a bad thing but there are parts which just drags on.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-21-21

Not recommended

Narrators character voices barely differ, character dialog is painfully unrealistic and immersion breaking. Could not finish.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Paul
  • Paul
  • 09-29-22

At the end of the day. Just more beta male fantasy

Brown nosing woke culture in the hopes of 'critical acclaim'.
Dissapointing, as the bones of a story is there.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-15-22

Anthony Ryan's best work to date

Ryan's previous books are excellent. And this bests them, comfortably. Highly recommended. The performance is topnotch too.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Dustin
  • 03-30-22

what is happening

I honestly can't tell if it's how the story is written, or how it's narrated. But we are being told about something that has already happened rather than being apart of the adventure as it unfolds makes it really hard to follow and care about.

after half way in, I find myself unsure of where the plot could be taking us, nobody seems to have a goal other than follow were the river takes us and hope for the best.

the characters are just not interesting to me. so I'm going to put this down now and move onto something else.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-28-22

a gripping tail!

excellent! well worth the read :-) is an excellent storyteller. can't wait for the second book of the series. :-)

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for BRONWYN AUHL
  • BRONWYN AUHL
  • 03-28-22

Captivating storytelling

It took some time to warm up to this book in both narration and prose, but once I did it was awesome. Different from many other generic fantasy worlds, this one feels so much more alive with unique characters fitting well into a well crafted world. This easily fits into one of my top 10.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • William
  • 02-10-22

An excellent gritty fantasy.

Fantastic performance, a real and believable world, great characters. Story is lengthy but never feels like it drags on. Cannot wait for the next.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • michael clarke
  • 12-08-21

Gripping

Anthony Ryan is a master of his craft. Like the Raven’s Shadow books, the hero of The Covenant of Steel is flawed but posses a particular strength and unique qualities that makes you hope for his success. Ryan’s narrative is flawless - characters are exquisitely crafted, the scenery dark and detailed and the action perfectly described - from the hidden knife thrust to the trading of sword strokes. Again Steven Brand is the perfect performer. I love his accent, timbre and pace. He doesn’t need to adopt a voice for each character like some narrators, the narrative is so mesmerising and Brand’s narration so enthralling it’s not required. If you love fantasy, you will love The Pariah.