Book Review: A Pilgrimage of Swords – by Anthony Ryan

Novella

Epic, Fantasy

Subterranean Press; September 30, 2019

128 pages (ebook)

4 / 5 ✪

I was kindly furnished me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to both NetGalley and Subterranean Press. All opinions are my own.

So, a talking sword, a mysterious cast of players, a quest for one wish from a mad god. We follow Pilgrim and his talking sword on this quest, accompanied by only five other seekers and their guide, Priest. That’s Pilgrimage of Swords in a nutshell.

First off: I quite like the cover, even if it doesn’t prominently feature the hero of our tale—the talking sword.

Well, I didn’t care for the beginning, despite that it kinda tied in later on. I would’ve liked a bit more backstory or something before diving into the epic quest, or maybe even just begun the story at the doorstep on the temple where the quest begins. Instead we endure a chapter of mostly meaningless conversation—though it does give the sword a chance to be witty, so… I guess that’s good enough.

The end’s a good one, with a satisfying conclusion. The middle is what won me over, despite its beginnings, though. Fast moving, entertaining; a lovely bit of lore and action mix atop a post-apocalyptic backdrop.

More so, after a disappointing drop-off following Blood Song—truly beginning with Queen of Fire and then the Waking Fire—Ryan has delivered twice in a three months. A bit of hope is good every now and then.

After that, the story’s pretty entertaining. It’s somewhat lacking in description, being a novella and all, but it’s the quest itself that the story follows, and that’s what we see. The concept is pretty interesting, so much so that I left the world wanting more. I hope that Ryan returns to it in the future.

All in all, it’s definitely worth a look, assuming the price isn’t unreasonable. Right now I’m just seeing pre-orders for a hard cover, which is going at $40. Unless you’re a hardcore Ryan fan—I’d skip that. Maybe hold out for an ebook version at $4-7.

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