THE MARTYR by Anthony Ryan from @orbitbooks

THE MARTYR by Anthony Ryan.

Orbit Books. h/b. £20.

Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.

The front cover for The Martyr by Anthony Ryan. The front cover has a man in armor standing on a castle's ramparts. He has a sword over one shoulder and his cloak in flying in the breeze. In the background, there is a woman with her back to the man.

Alwyn Scribe spends his time as tutor to Ayin while he recovers from the wounds he received in protecting Evadine, the Risen Martyr. His young charge is an unexpectedly adept learner and Alwyn thinks he may make a scribe of her yet. The arrival of King Tomas’ soldiers interrupts this somewhat peaceful present and Alwyn finds himself once again marching at Evadine’s side.

The truth of Tomas’ parenthood is surely spreading but it is not clear to Alwyn whether the king simply ignores it or disbelieves it. Either way, a king he is and one that Evadine must ally with… for now. A living martyr is an unknown; an enigma. There are those, king and Covenant included, who may yet side against her.

Alwyn is plagued by dreams and injury and once again finds his fate and his duties dictated by another. Is it purely loyalty that drives him, or something more?

The Martyr is the second in The Covenant of Steel seriesand at the start, Ryan includes a clever and welcome summary of the previous book in the form of a letter to the Luminant’s Council which reminds the reader why Alwyn is laid up in the aftermath of a serious head injury.

Alwyn finds himself in a position of great responsibility in this instalment and much of the narrative is given over to battle and siege warfare, told, as you would expect from this author, in realistic and rich detail. The sacrifice is a more narrowed view of this world and its mysterious and gritty inhabitants who take on a lesser role as the greater action is played out.

This is a solid second in a series. It makes steady progress in building Alwyn’s character through experience as he moves from outlaw to knight and hones his skills. A little more of the underlying mystery surrounding Alwyn’s former mentor is revealed laying the groundwork for what will no doubt be an exciting third book.

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