A Pilgrimage of Swords by Anthony Ryan- ARC Review

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                ENTER THE EXECRATION, WHERE THE DAMNED AND THE DESPERATE COME TO PRAY TO THE MAD GOD… It is two hundred years since the deity known as the Absolved went mad and destroyed the Kingdom of Alnachim, transforming it into the Execration, a blasted wasteland filled with nameless terrors. For decades, desperate souls have made pilgrimage to the centre of this cursed land to seek the Mad God’s favour, their fate always unknown. Now a veteran warrior known only as Pilgrim, armed with a fabled blade inhabited by the soul of a taunting demon, must join with six others to make the last journey to the heart of the Execration. Allied with a youthful priest, a beast-charmer, a duplicitous scholar, an effete actor and two exiled lovers, Pilgrim must survive madness, malevolent spirits, unnatural monsters and the ever-present risk of treachery, all so that the Mad God might hear his prayer and, perhaps, grant redemption. But can sins such as his ever be forgiven? Set in a world where demons and gods walk the earth, A Pilgrimage of Swords is a dark and exciting fantasy adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow and Draconis Memoria trilogies. (taken from Amazon)  

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be released on September 30th.

Wow! Reminiscent of Tad Williams or Sean Russell, this book has everything I look for in an epic fantasy. The world building- especially the religious beliefs and how they’ve affected everything over the years- was masterful. It was well-thought out and delivered, without turning into the dreaded information dump. I loved the idea of the Mad God granting one prayer if you can survive the Execration. The stakes are high; the Mad God will only answer the prayer of one person.

I was immediately drawn in to the desolate feel of the setting, and the desperation of the characters. It was hard to really pick a favorite character because they all had their own, valid to them, reasons for the journey. Pilgrim was fascinating, complex and multi-faceted. His character was filled with conflict; was he a monster, or a man?

Seeker was also fantastic. She had a hyena companion! That is by far the most original animal sidekick (for lack of a better term) that I’ve read in any fantasy book. In fact, each character had something that set them apart from those in other fantasy books.

The book sucked me in; I finished it in a day. I highly recommend this book. I know I’ll be checking out other books by this author since I enjoyed A Pilgrimage of Swords so much.

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