Review: The Coward (Quest for Heroes #1) by Stephen Aryan

Rating: 10/10


Who will take up the mantle and slay the evil in the Frozen North, saving all from death and destruction? Not Kell Kressia, he’s done his part…

Kell Kressia is a legend, a celebrity, a hero. Aged just seventeen he set out on an epic quest with a band of grizzled fighters to slay the Ice Lich and save the world, but only he returned victorious. The Lich was dead, the ice receded and the Five Kingdoms were safe.

Ten years have passed Kell lives a quiet farmer’s life, while stories about his heroism are told in every tavern across the length and breadth of the land. But now a new terror has arisen in the north. Beyond the frozen circle, north of the Frostrunner clans, something has taken up residence in the Lich’s abandoned castle. And the ice is beginning to creep south once more.

For the second time, Kell is called upon to take up his famous sword, Slayer, and battle the forces of darkness. But he has a terrible secret that nobody knows. He’s not a hero – he was just lucky. Everyone puts their faith in Kell the Legend, but he’s a coward who has no intention of risking his life for anyone…


Thank you to Angry Robot, for providing me with an ARC – all thoughts are my opinion!

This is one of the most amazing titles I have read in the fantasy genre. It is a story that keeps you on the edge, a story that keeps you wanting to read more, and a story that you wish it does not end. Because I didn’t want it either. Every single moment of this story had its special feeling, every scene felt unique, and I am mind blown. I have to say this, my mind is in the fourth dimension. It feels like I’ve uncovered a deeper plot, like a Christopher Nolan film, and there’s more to this story. There’s more to Kell and this journey, much more. This story to me is like a glimpse of something deeper and darker. Yes, it was an epic journey. Yes, some characters faced destinies I think could have been better (without wanting to spoil the story this will be the only clue you will get). Stephen has created an intriguing story that made me want to read more. Dear reader, I tell you now, I still do not want this story to end. There is a secret, a confounding secret that makes me want to discover more, a mystery that must be uncovered!

The Coward is an apt title for this book, for it delivers an epic story that is the equivalent of an epic video game story, and has multiple comparisons with many TV shows. Most often, I was often reminded of Game of Thrones in many respects. After reading this book, I felt as if I had entered another universe. Another parallel universe with multiple layers of complexity and intrigue. That’s all I will say for now. It is that good. This book is that good. It has an amazing story, well-written dialogue and easily likeable characters. The journey is simple. Kell once journeyed with a bunch of glorious heroes to kill the Lich Queen. They didn’t return, and only Kell did. He’s been having nightmares and wishes to forget about it, that it even happened. He’s a man hiding his deepest fears in the corner of his soul, wishing to never even relive it again.

Then, a letter arrives from the King of Algany, requesting that he take up the mantle as the Lich has once again returned. Taking his famous sword, he battles the forces of darkness, shark horned beasts, wolves and horrible creatures, all the while collecting a bunch of companions that he never even wanted. This novel should be named the Tavern. Because I should be a tavern inn-keeper and open one up. It’s very profitable. Without spoiling the plot, let me summarize it to keep it simple: Kell’s journey to the castle of the Lich in the North complicates politics for everyone. Kings rival each other against King. The Shepard, who is our monotheistic God of this world shall we say, now has followers who are devout and fanatical, trying to spread the word of the true God. Of the true Divine. And then comes Princess Sigrid and her manipulation of Kell, in some sense, along with Lukas, who I believe is the steward. There’s also a dangerous priestess, known as the Mother Reverend, who is determined to eliminate him. The politics of the Five Kingdoms revolve around Kell’s journey simply because they forced him to do something he didn’t.

The Kell that starts from the book, emerges a different Kell at the very end. A transition of the truth, a search for the question of life itself, and the machinations of lies and deceit that everyone tells each other. There was Gerran, one of the best characters in this story, and I felt a lot of sympathy for him. There was Willow, a mysterious figure who is secretive and has layers upon layers of untold lore and stories. There is Vahli, who was the definition of the loyal warrior, a bard, and a humble noble. A man that fought for everything he wanted. This is almost like the fantasy version of The Expanse. Characters that I can relate to and get along with. There are many untold characters in this book. All amazing.

And what I’ve told you is barely a glimpse. This story has so many amazing secrets I want to read book 2 already. I already want to read it. I need to know more. I need the story. I need it. This is an amazing story, and I for one loved every second. This is the book you need in 2021 to read. Amazing! The cover designer Kieryn Tyler did an excellent job with interpreting the way the novel cover came out, and did a great job of understanding the story. The cover is one of the BEST and I love PURPLE in fantasy covers. Angry Robot have gotten a knocker here. A fantastic, whopping knocker of a novel that has some mind-blowing concepts. This is great. I loved every second. A shoutout to the cartographer who did an amazing job with the map design. I loved it!

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