“We live for the Lady! We fight for the Lady! We die for the Lady!”
Alwyn loyally follows her, gradually rising through the ranks as his loyalty is rewarded. He keeps to himself the secret of her having being brought back to life in the first book by the Caerith Sack Witch. It wasn’t a miracle after all and his dreams are now haunted by the vile Erchel:
“Erchel’s eyes slid towards me, a knowing smile playing over his lips. “The chainsman was not the only one cursed to hear the voices of the dead.” Seeing the fearful bafflement on my face, his smile blossomed to a laugh. “Do you really think you’re merely dreaming me, Alwyn?””
The Martyr is an epic tale set in a many layered medieval world of religion and politics with multiple weird and wonderful characters - some of whom are truly horrible. There is plenty of bloodthirsty action and the level of detail during the siege shows just how much research has gone into this series. Anthony Ryan is a wonderful storyteller and his narrator, Alwyn Scribe keeps the narrative flowing masterfully. There is barely any magic in this series, it being an attribute of the mysterious Caerith people alone. I would have liked less war and more of the Caerith and in particular the mysterious Sack Witch, so called for the sack she wears over her head. My favourite part of the book was Alwyn’s time amongst the Caerith and his friendship with Lilat the huntress, who went some way to replace Toria from The Pariah - but Toria’s attitude and feistiness were still sorely missed.
The Martyr is a worthy sequel to The Pariah and I recommend it for anyone who enjoyed that first book in the Covenant of Steel series.