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

My Rating: 7/10


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 wizened 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 a chance to review The Coward by Stephen Aryan in exchange for an honest review. I was super intrigued by the description, I love a good coward as much as I love a good hero. That cover is just gorgeous, too.

Well, the first thing that could be said is that this book is definitely polished and it’s going to be right up the alley of many fantasy readers. There’s humor, battles, an epic journey, and an unlikely group of travelers that become like family to one another on that journey. If you are a fan of Kings of the Wyld, I could definitely see this being something you’d enjoy. I, on the other hand, DNF’ed KotW (hangs head in shame). The issue for both of these books was that I started out with the audios and really didn’t vibe with the respective narrators. Luckily, with The Coward I decided to switch to physically reading at about 50%. I enjoyed the second half of the novel much more than the first. I don’t think that’s all due to the audio, though, and I know this narrator will actually be perfect for others.

The first half went a lot slower for me. I was a bit bored, if I am honest. I actually thought I was going to end up rating this book a bit lower. I didn’t care about any of our characters for a good while. The second half was filled with action and revelations, and the ending promises for a fun adventure in the future. I found myself endeared to our characters by the end of it and it completely saved my rating. A huge bonus: the excerpt for the second book intrigued me greatly, so I will probably end up continuing with the series. I do like that this could be read as a standalone if one desires!

One thing I really enjoyed in this novel was the uncertainty of the fate of our main characters. Aryan does not tread lightly and this is something I love when reading fantasy. I enjoy being afraid for our characters, even if that means that someone I really liked dies. I also love that so much of our story revolves around a lie and that Kell sheds a truthful, ugly light on the journey of the heroes that we hear about in fabled tales.

Take my review with a grain of salt and check The Coward out for yourself, so far it has been getting rave reviews!

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