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Summary

Kell Kressia is a legend, a celebrity, a hero. Aged just 17, 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....

©2021 Stephen Aryan (P)2021 Angry Robot

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A quintessential quest story

A reluctant hero, a dough eyed shitling of a youth, a campy yet mysterious bard, a shorter and less bulky Marvel Hercules (he's got a scimitar so it's still cool!), A brawny bear of a woman that can prolly suplex boulders and a off-putting yet reliable humanoid with a cool ass mace-axe. This colorful cast goes on a quest! And in this story, the author Stephen Aryan and narrator Matt Wycliffe give a clear picture of the places, it's inns, taverns, food, people, cultures and etc. All done to fine detail, there is the topics of faith, politics and legends done as a secondary piece that add to the story's already smooth world building and narrative, adding character and fleshing out a much grander intrigue that may culminate to something spectacular.

An adventure was felt and achieved in The Coward, can't wait for its sequel!!

1 person found this helpful

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Different

Wow!! Listening to this book was a pleasant surprise.

Yes, it certainly takes a different approach to the role of a hero, however listening to this book is not a gamble, it is a must.

Assuming you like the genre of fantasy...


... I have listened to a few of Stephen Aryan books, I found this author because I really like the narrator Matt Addis, when I saw this book had a different narrator, Matt Wycliffe, I nearly chose not to listen to it.

I am disappointed thst Matt Wycliffe has only narrated this one book available on Audible. I would be stunned if we do not hear more from Matt Wycliffe. His delivery of this book was excellent. In hindsight I am glad, as he gave this book its own unique feel.

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good story, bad production

I enjoyed this tale, but the production let it down. narrator repeats himself and it hasn't been edited out

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Outstanding book

The title is misleading but in a good way, there are layers upon layers in this book revealing the strengths and weaknesses of its characters, even the antagonists in this book are neither truly good or bad, the narrator took some getting used to but he settled in well and did an outstanding job, I can’t wait for the second part of this series

1 person found this helpful

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An engaging Quest story with depth

Stephen Aryan manages to deliver a fantastic story here. The well-used trope of the hero's quest is done well and there are plenty of little aspects that add more depth, which I fully expected given the quality of his previous novels. The characters were great, with Kell an intriguing protagonist with a past I wanted to find out more about - it kept me listening and pushed me to find extra time to spend with him and the crew. The ending was nice and leads very well into a sequel that promises to be a different kind of story, and one I'm looking forward to. Narratyion was also excellent, bringing the world and characters to life - very enjoyable.

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  • FanFiAddict
  • 01-06-21

The Coward is a Gratifying Romp

Rating: 8.75/10

The Coward is a gratifying romp from beginning to end. Equal parts character study, comedy, and adventure story, it has the makings of a perfect summer fantasy read. It is a little bit Kings of the Wyld, a smidge Fate of the Fallen, and a helluva ton of fun. It was a book I could not put down and now I eagerly await the sequel.

This is my first novel by Aryan (and no, this is NOT A DEBUT). I have his past two (2) series, The Age of Darkness and Age of Dread, both of which came out from Orbit Books and have now climbed Mt. TBR to get their just due. If either are as engaging as Kell Kressia’s ARC, I feel like I will be in good hands.

Let’s start with the story: Kressia isn’t a hero. Far from it. He was just lucky, which to be honest, is my favorite type of hero to read about. I don’t know about you, but reading about a hero that is near invincible or has this amazing unknown power can start to become stale. Something about a character who shouldn’t have been there in the first place ultimately becoming the “hero” and reaping praise just sound entertaining, especially when their secret is found out.

As Kressia begins his “crusade”, he gathers a ragtag bunch of, we will call them “mercs”, to help aid him in his fight against whatever evil resides in the north. This grouping, though decidedly pro-killing whatever needs killing to bring back the sun shiny goodness of Spring, isn’t what you would call “savior-y”, but is at least made up of a couple of sword-swinging folks who can hack off some heads. There is plenty of banter betwixt them all, also some punches and accusations thrown, but when danger strikes, they are always there to lend a hand, a foot, or a stab.

The world-building, while fairly decent in size, isn’t fleshed out on a large-scale, but it is enough to sink your teeth into. You feel the warmth of a tavern fire, the brisk chill of the icy wind, and the harsh tundra the gang has to cross to get to the castle. I did enjoy that Aryan didn’t allow the group to just traipse easily from one place to another. There was always an obstacle (or obstacles) at every turn, each requiring a different sort of skill, always keeping them on their toes.

All in all, this was a very entertaining read (or shall I say listen). I absolutely loved the audiobook with narration by Matt Wycliff and I hope to hear more from him in the future. If you want a light fantasy read filled with humor, adventure, and a solid character study, The Coward is the one for you.

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  • Michael
  • 19-07-21

Great Start to a new Series

Coward, the first book in a new series by Stephen Aryan gives a novel start to the "Heroic Quest" type story by beginning after the "Great Hero's Quest" has already taken place. Kel, having already lived through one quest to stop a great evil and still suffering the scars, both seen and unseen, from that journey is then forced to set out on a new journey to the North confronting old and new dangers with a new group of Heroes.

The story itself is entertaining if a bit familiar. Some of the challenges and enemies will remind you of different stories but that can happen with how many fantasy stories are in the world. I enjoyed the twist of a reluctant hero who had already done his part and was hesitant to return to a quest that killed 11 others and almost killed him the first time. The characters were mostly well written, and the journey itself was exciting with known and unknown dangers popping up throughout. Some twists were obvious, others less so, and aside from some production issues where the narrator said the same sentence twice in a row, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am looking forward to the next book in the series and the continuation of Kel's journey.

1 person found this helpful