Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy. I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them. For my latest Waiting on Wednesday, I check out an upcoming book that is likely to become one of my absolute favourite fantasy reads of 2023 with The Traitor by Anthony Ryan.
I have been having a smashing time with fantasy novels over the last few years especially as there have been some amazing series and very talented authors providing some brilliant books. Out of all these great writers, one of my absolute favourites is bestselling author Anthony Ryan, whose latest series I have really fallen in love with. A talented and prolific author, Ryan has been dominating the genre for over 10 years with several impressive series, including his highly regarded Raven’s Shadow, Raven’s Blade, Slab City Blues and Draconis Memoria books. While all these series sound extremely good, I have only had the pleasure of reading Ryan’s current body of work, although that has been more than enough to make me a major Ryan fan.
Ryan’s main current series is the exciting and complex The Covenant of Steel trilogy. Set in an elaborate and battle-torn new fantasy world and told through an awesome chronicle style, The Covenant of Steel books follow the tumultuous life of Alwyn Scribe, a former outlaw who finds redemption and a new purpose in life after being trained as a scribe. This series started in 2021 with The Pariah, an addictive read that introduced Alwyn and showed the formulative events of his life, including his recruitment by Lady Evadine Courlain, a devote and charismatic former noblewoman who forms her own regiment to fight for her nation’s religious order. Caught in a series of deadly battles, Alwyn finds himself growing more and more loyal to Evadine and uses all his underhanded skills and personal history to keep her alive. The Pariah was a brilliant and powerful new novel that did a wonderful job introducing the reader to the best elements of series. I absolutely flew through this book and The Pariah ended up being one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021.
Ryan kept the magic going in 2022 when he released the second Covenant of Steel book with The Martyr. Continuing to follow Alwyn and his dangerous quest to advanced Evadine’s cause, The Martyr saw the characters embark on a deadly and extended war, which included two glorious and powerful siege sequences. It also showcased Alwyn’s continued growth as a character, as he becomes a knight and a war leader, while also adding in some compelling mystical elements to the universe. I had an outstanding time reading The Martyr, and it ended up being one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2022. Ryan also made sure to leave The Martyr on an intriguing and concerning cliff-hanger, which has made me extremely eager to get my hands on the next Covenant of Steel book.
Luckily, I only must wait several more months until I find out how Ryan ends his brilliant trilogy, as the third and final book is out in July 2023. This final Covenant of Steel novel is titled, The Traitor, which not only has another striking cover, but which sounds like it is going to be quite an epic read.
It’s been a long journey for Alwyn Scribe. Born a bastard and raised an outlaw, he’s now a knight and the most trusted advisor to Lady Evadine Courlain. Together they’ve won countless battles and helped to bring order to a fractured kingdom.
Yet Evadine is not the woman Alwyn once knew. As puritanical fury increasingly replaces her benevolent faith, Alwyn begins to question what her true motives really are.
As the kingdom braces itself for one final battle, Alwyn’s conscience fights its own war with his heart. Now, more than ever, he must decide whose side he’s really on.
While the above summary is a little light on details, what is revealed, as well as how Ryan finished off The Martyr, has made me exceptionally excited for The Traitor. This new book looks set to feature more war, politics and terrible personal conflicts, especially as the revelations and deeper suspicions come to light about the brilliant character of Evadine Courlain. Evadine has always been a complex figure in this series, what with her unnatural charisma and apparent connection to the divine. However, Ryan has been subtly setting her up as a potential villain for most of the trilogy and I am quite excited to see how this all comes to a head in The Traitor. The mention of her upcoming change to a more angry and vengeful character is very concerning, and I have no doubt there will be some fantastic scenes of her using her current position as a resurrected martyr to insight great violence against her foes. This, combined with The Martyr’s final revelation that she is an agent for an ancient destructive force, and this looks set to be quite a book for Evadine and I cannot wait to see how her slide from purity to destructive being unfolds.
This is of course going to be hard for the narrator to watch, as Alwyn has spent the last two books devoted to Evadine and slowly falling in love with her. Having to watch the women he loves and respects above all overs become a figure of hate and death is going to be devastating for the loveable rogue, and I am sure it is going to hit me hard in the feels. The mentioned conflict about whether to stand with Evadine or try to do the right thing, will no doubt be the emotional centre of this book and I cannot wait to see how Ryan features it.
Look, based on how incredibly awesome the first two Covenant of Steel novels were, I have no doubt what-so-ever that The Traitor is going to be a particularly epic read. I have deeply enjoyed the elaborate and captivating narrative Anthony Ryan set up in The Pariah and The Martyr and I am very excited to see how he manages to wrap everything up in this third and final book. The Traitor is definitely going to be one of the best fantasy books of 2023 and I know I will have an exceptional time checking out its audiobook format in a few months’ time.