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…
Welcome to my review! I actually bought The Coward on release from The Broken Binding (June 8 2021) and got a special numbered map with the book! This was great when reading as it really felt cool knowing where the characters were going to and where they were each from. For some reason it’s taken me this long to read and I wish I’d read it sooner because this story is a lot of fun with some excellent characters that I hope to see more of in The Warrior, out August 9th 2022.
When I first started this book I had the idea in my head it was a single POV story following Kell. It isn’t and I like that. Each chapter is still a chapter for everyone and not listed as one character per chapter, but there are many parts, especially towards the latter half of the book where the characters each get more of the story. The characters in this story are really good too. They all play a part and none of them are wasted. Sometimes when you have a wide range of characters you find that some are really unnecessary and maybe didn’t need to be added but in this story I really appreciated that Kell had a strong supporting cast of characters and that not all of them are there to help him.
I didn’t expect politics but there is a small amount, and I really liked what Stephen has done with it. He has created a group of characters, all of whom are hiding something and some of them are very cunning. There are things happening in the world that Kell doesn’t know about which gives us, the readers, something to know while our main character doesn’t. This makes it more interesting like when you know a secret. I don’t want to spoil anything but there is an underlying story within this book that is much bigger than just a man going north to fight a darkness.
There was a part of this book that I felt dragged unfortunately and that’s the middle. There is a lot of travelling and this is repetitive but it’s due to this travelling that we get to learn about the various characters which is interesting. So it could go either way and I can only speak for myself about this part.
I really enjoyed the last 25% of this book and it really brought it back to a high score. Stephen has weaved together a bigger world than I first realised with many different story arcs with lots of moving pieces behind the scenes. In this final quarter you find out various things that will make you very eager to read the sequel.
Overall I enjoyed this book and I’m happy I read it. Stephen has taken an idea that hasn’t been done before (or I haven’t read yet) and created a world around it with some lore and worldbuilding which I expect to be explored further in the sequel. I loved the characters and their individual stories, the battle scenes and the politics. I think if you enjoy character driven stories then this is going to be blast for you. It’s fast paced with short chapters and only 400 pages so can be read, potentially, over a weekend which is ideal if you want something quick for a break or to get your reading numbers up.