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The Seven Swords #1

A Pilgrimage of Swords

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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?

109 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 30, 2019

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About the author

Anthony Ryan

84 books8,353 followers
Anthony Ryan was born in Scotland in 1970 but spent much of his adult life living and working in London. After a long career in the British Civil Service he took up writing full time after the success of his first novel Blood Song, Book One of the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. He has a degree in history, and his interests include art, science and the unending quest for the perfect pint of real ale.

For news and general wittering about stuff he likes, check out Anthony's blog at: http://anthonystuff.wordpress.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 170 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
April 19, 2019
ARC provided by the publisher—Subterranean Press—in exchange for an honest review.

3.5/5 stars

Anthony Ryan is back with a brand new novella in a completely new world.

It’s been two hundred years since the Kingdom of Alnachim was destroyed by The Mad God. Alnachim, now called the Execration, has become a wasteland full of monsters and terrors. For decades, pilgrimages to reach the center of the Execration were made by desperate people so they can meet the Mad God and have their wish granted; none ever returned. The story follows Pilgrim, a veteran warrior with an unknown past, and his six companions as they attempt a pilgrimage to have his wish for redemption granted.

“Is it a crime for a god to destroy what he made?”
“Perhaps not. But to destroy all those who lived under his protection certainly is.”

I don’t have a lot of things to say regarding A Pilgrimage of Swords because of its small size. This novella was great and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I, however, truly wish this was a full standalone novel; there’s so much room for incredible developments here. This is a quest-based story accompanied with a variety of unique characters in an intriguing post-apocalyptic world, I also found Ryan’s writing in this book to be one of the best he has done so far; in my opinion, adding more pages to this story would’ve benefited the book more rather than leaving it as a novella. Other than Pilgrim and one or two other characters, the rest of the characters didn’t receive enough—understandably—development because of the small pages count of the book. I found it a bit difficult for me to empathize with a lot of them because there’s no background exploration or what each of the character’s purpose in the pilgrimage was. I didn't know this was a novella (and short stories/novella very rarely works for me) when I requested for it so the blame fully lies with me.

“Perfection is an impossibility,” Book said, a quotation from the Injunctions of the First Risen. “It is through our imperfections that we come to know ourselves.”

That being said, I do think that A Pilgrimage of Swords was a great quest-based fantasy novella and I would recommend it for those of you who are looking for a short read in the genre. Seeing Ryan’s continuous improvement in writing and storytelling makes me excited to read more of his future work.

Official release date: September 30th, 2019

You can pre-order the book from: Subterranean Press

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
Profile Image for Elena Rodríguez.
581 reviews262 followers
May 15, 2023
“Proceed only if you are willing to be judged”.

No saben la de años que esta novela (la cual yo pensaba que contenía 500 páginas) se encontraba en mi carpeta de lecturas). Pero mi sorpresa al tener 90 páginas me indujo a subir puestos, añadido al hecho que estoy leyendo cada vez más en inglés.

“You said they derserved their fate. But then you would know that best of all, would you not, my liege.

En cuanto al nivel de idioma, yo lo encuadro en un B2-C1 por varias razones: en primer lugar, nos encontramos ante un mundo de fantasía semi complejo junto con su vocabulario especifico creado por el autor, la prosa del autor no es ligera, sino que enriquece sus escritos para hacerlo mucho más realista y por último utiliza bastantes verbos-vocabulario específicos de la fantasía. Mi consejo es que si estás empezando a leer en inglés, no tomes este tipo de lectura, sino cuando ya estés más suelto. En mi caso, no lo voy a negar, me costó, aparte por el vocabulario sino por la densidad de la trama, a pesar de eso, si lo lees lento y con calma, se hace amena la lectura.

“They say the Mad God can’t hide abide a kindly soul”.

Por otro lado, en cuanto al argumento no deja de ser igual al de otros libros de fantasía o concretamente de este género de fantasía medieval-oscura. Me explico un viaje una peregrinación y los personajes tipo de fantasía: el mago, el guerrero, el sacerdote entre otros y juntos afrontan peligros. Sin embargo, el autor ha sabido llevarlo bien y hacer de la historia interesante, sobre todo por su forma de escribir.

“And know that the Crucible’s judgement is merciless. ”

En estas noventas páginas no consigues engancharte del todo a la historia, al menos yo. Me han gustado los personajes, pero no fascinado, sin embargo, luego reflexiono sobre el hecho que es solo una primera parte, un primer acto y que a partir de ahí seguramente se verá un desarrollo más claro de los personajes y sus historias.

En conclusión, totalmente recomendado porque tiene mucho potencial.

“Is it a crime for a god to destroy what he made?”
Profile Image for Sarah.
633 reviews143 followers
September 13, 2019
3.5 stars. This is my first experience with Anthony Ryan. I don’t expect it to be the last. This novella isn’t bad, but it’s one of those times where honestly, I just wanted more. I wanted to know more about the world, more about Pilgrim and his intrepid band of… Pilgrims..

In A Pilgrimage of Swords, we follow a man called Pilgrim and his cursed sword on a trip across the wastelands to make a prayer to the Mad God. It’s a very difficult and dangerous journey, and few are ever known to have come back from it alive.

The reader understands that Pilgrim has a dark past, but as we travel we also come to understand that Pilgrim isn’t a bad guy, he’s trying to do right by the people he believes are innocent. His character is a lot of fun. He has a few lines that made me laugh out loud.

However, I just felt like there wasn’t enough “room” in this short book (128 pages) to get the details I really wanted. I felt like we were skipping from locale to locale without really knowing why or developing the characters enough to really care about them.

As the book goes on, we do get snippets of information here and there about why each of the pilgrims has embarked on this journey, and by the end of it I did care about a few of them. Still, it was a little frustrating when I could see there was easily enough story here to explore a full length novel about the characters and this world, and felt like this novella was a tease.

The ending was really fantastic though, and the action scenes were exciting and well written. If Ryan decided to write a full length novel about Pilgrim, I’d definitely pick it up, and the ending seems to leave that possibility open.

I do think it’s worth picking up as it can be read in just a couple hours. Thank you to Subterranean Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC for review.

A Pilgrimage of Swords releases on September 30, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,202 followers
October 3, 2022
Check out my Booktube channel at: The Obsessive Bookseller

Pilgrimage of Swords is a breathtaking start to another amazing world from Anthony Ryan.

I think Ryan has a split personality in his writing. One Ryan loves to tell adventurous novels with expansive world building and the sorts of discoveries that leave you in awe and wonder at what you’ve just experienced. This is very much the case with Draconius Memoria (my all-time favorite series). The other Ryan gives you deep, slow-burn character novels where the focus is almost completely on a single POV making his way in the world, as with Blood Song and Pariah. Pilgrimage of Swords falls into the latter category. Even though it’s a novella, he managed to cram a great deal of exploration and discovery within, and I can’t wait to see what sort of cool things we’re going to come across next!

I really didn’t think there would be enough substance in such a short book to win me over, but I was wrong – it was really good. The only thing that perhaps suffered is that I didn’t feel I had enough time to get to know all of the side characters, and even continued to mix a couple of them up until the very end of the book. They didn’t seem particularly fleshed out (or is it flushed out? I could make a case for both words, lol) and after finishing the book, I can sort of see why. But I could’ve gone for a few extra pages establishing character because then I may have felt more invested when stuff started happening to them.

What I liked most about the novella is how most of the cool things about this series were revealed gradually, providing a huge payoff at the end that instantly hooked me into wanting to read on. It seems like many books start out telling you exactly what the characters are struggling with and give you a road map on how they’re going to fix it. This novella is a beautifully written showcase on how to show readers rather than tell them the point of your story. I continue to hold this author in very high regard.

Recommendations: this could actually be a great introduction to Ryan’s works if you haven’t tried him yet. If you love stories with expansive world-building as much as I do, then this one is a must-read! I feel like he’s only just scratched the surface on what this new world has to offer, and what I’ve seen so far is epic!

Thank you to my Patrons: Filipe, Dave, Frank, Sonja, Staci, Kat, and Katrin! <3

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other books you might like:
Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1) by Steven Erikson When the Heavens Fall (The Chronicles of the Exile, #1) by Marc Turner The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria, #1) by Anthony Ryan The Painted Man (Demon Cycle, #1) by Peter V. Brett The Last Stormlord (Watergivers, #1) by Glenda Larke
Profile Image for Marcos GM.
276 reviews93 followers
May 26, 2023

“Proceed only if you are willing to be judged”

I got to this reading without knowing anything, beyond the synopsis and a good recommendation (thank you, Elena), so I did not know what to expect. I didn't think the synopsis was going to be told, even if it was a very powerful starting point. Basically a divine figure called The absolved one day went mad and destroyed his kingdom of Alnachim, leaving it a desert and populated with nameless terrors. But the plot is not about this, because we follow a man called Pilgrim on his pilgrimage (forgive the redundancy) to the temple of the Mad God to ask him for a favor. Along with him will go other characters with their own requests.

I have to say that this premise reminded me very powerfully of the plot of Hyperion, at least in part. There's a lot less character development here, and a lot more action. This pilgrimage is going to be fraught with problems almost from the beginning, and it will not leave them until the end. The downside of being so short is that it barely scratches the surface with the characters, and you care little about what happens to them, except for the main character.

The warrior will see it all, and in seeing he will change you, for to know unalloyed truth is to be changed. That is why the Absolved named him the Crucible.”

I liked the author's way of writing a lot, also having read it in the original English version I know that it does not lose with the translation. But what I liked the most is that for a book that begins a saga, it gives many answers, it doesn't just focus on the adventure, but we know a lot of things when it ends. And what it leaves prepared for the future seems interesting, so I will have to continue reading and see what happens later. I would also like to read the origin of this story, although what happened is known here, I think it is a bit vague and could be used for a story of its own.

It has been a very good read, but with its little things that subtract a bit.

Is it a crime for a god to destroy what he made?”


“Proceed only if you are willing to be judged”

He llegado a esta lectura sin conocer nada, más allá de la sinopsis y de una buena recomendación (gracias, Elena), por lo que no sabía bien qué esperar. No creía que la sinopsis fuese a ser contada, aunque fuera un punto de partida muy potente. Básicamente una figura divina llamada El Absuelto un día enloqueció y destruyó su reino de Alnachim, dejando aquello como un desierto y poblado de terrores sin nombre. Pero la trama no va de esto, sino que seguimos a un hombre al que llaman Peregrino en su peregrinaje (valga la reduncancia) al templo del Dios loco para pedirle un favor. Junto a él irán otros personajes con sus propias peticiones.

He de decir que esa premisa me recordó muy poderosamente a la trama de Hyperion, al menos en parte. Pero aquí hay mucho menos desarrollo de personajes, y bastante más acción. Este peregrinaje va a estar cargado de problemas casi desde el inicio, y no los dejará hasta el final. La pega de ser tan corto es que apenas araña la superficie con los personajes, y te importa poco lo que les vaya pasando, salvo al personaje principal.

The warrior will see it all, and in seeing he will change you, for to know unalloyed truth is to be changed. That is why the Absolved named him the Crucible.”

La forma de escribir del autor me ha gustado bastante, además habiéndolo leído en versión original en inglés sé que no pierde con la traducción. Pero lo que más me ha gustado es que para ser un libro inicio de saga, da muchas respuestas, no se queda sólo en el planteamiento de la aventura, sino que sabemos muchas cosas cuando acaba. Y lo que deja planteado a futuro parece interesante, así que habrá que seguir leyendo y ver qué pasa más adelante. Aunque también me gustaría leer el origen de esta historia, aunque aquí se sabe lo que ocurrió, creo que queda un poco vago y podría dar para una historia propia.

Ha sido una muy buena lectura, pero con sus pequeñas cosillas que le restan un poco.

Is it a crime for a god to destroy what he made?”
Profile Image for Thibault Busschots.
Author 3 books47 followers
April 3, 2021
The reason I decided to pick up this book is very simple: the sequel to this book is called The Kraken's Tooth. And I love the Kraken. This story comes first though and I have to admit, this was not what I was expecting.

The cast is on a pilgrimage, a quest to find The Mad God. Finding The Mad God means they can get their wishes granted. To get to him, they need to work together. But only one can get their wish granted in the end.

A gritty and dark atmospheric beginning grabbed me from the get-go. The plot is a quest, pretty straight forward yet gripping every step of the way. The writing itself is strong and really helped set the dark tone of the story. The main character is mysterious and intriguing, though the rest of the cast is a bit forgettable. All in all, a fantastic short read.
Profile Image for Kaora.
568 reviews281 followers
August 28, 2019
Short stories are always tough because there is a limited time to establish characters, build a world and make the reader care.

Anthony Ryan does a fabulous job of this in the fast-paced novella "A Pilgrimage of Swords" which introduces a dark and gritty fantasy world that instantly captured my attention, and characters that I can't help but want more of.

Ryan is at the top of his game with this one and I can't help but be impressed.
Profile Image for David S Meanderings).
325 reviews86 followers
August 17, 2019
Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A mysterious warrior carrying a sword imbued with a demon, a beast charmer, a priest, a scholar, an actor, a wife, and a husband go on a journey across a place called “The Execration” to make their petitions to a Mad God. What could go wrong?

Anthony Ryan’s first in a series of novellas was a fast paced, edgy journey that by the end I didnt want to stop reading. Getting to know the world through the eyes and discussions of the characters as they crossed the Execration was one of my favorite parts of the story.

Our characters were all unique and fun to get to know. Pilgrim had the most depth and back story and therefore the best arc of any of the characters. I really enjoyed him. Seeker and Player were also well done and very intriguing.

What an ending! I was debating between 3 and 4 stars for this one and the ending solidified it at 4 stars and made me want more of this world and these characters. Pilgrimage of Swords is definitely worth a read!
Profile Image for Javir11.
528 reviews161 followers
November 8, 2019

Me hice con esta novela corta,debido a que estaba interesado en leer a su autor, pero me daba respeto en meterme en novelas largas de salida, ya que en versión original me cuesta mucho más leer y no siempre disfruto tanto la lectura.

Como test previo, puedo decir que esta novela es bastante interesante, se lee muy bien, quizás las escenas de acción son algo más confusas, pero la trama es de un estilo bastante clásico, aunque el desarrollo y el desenlace son de un tipo más actual, algo que agradezco.

Centrándome un poco más, me ha gustado que todos los personajes de la historia tengan un trasfondo oculto y que su autor sea capaz de resolver todo lo relacionado con ello de forma satisfactoria, recordemos que la novela tiene 100 páginas. El worldbuilding es bastante interesante y te deja con ganas de saber más. Por último, el desenlace va por otros derroteros a los que uno espera, cerrando al final la historia bastante bien.

Creo que no dentro de mucho me lanzaré a leer una novela larga de Ryan, a ver que tal.
Profile Image for FanFiAddict.
548 reviews133 followers
August 19, 2019
Rating: ★★★★☆


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?


Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of A Pilgrimage of Swords in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novella.

This was actually my first experience with Anthony Ryan’s writing, even though I have all of the books in his previous two (2) series [Raven’s Shadow & Draconis Memoria]. Though I have been blogging for a few years, I am still way behind on several authors and series, but I am slowly making my way through them as I clear out ARCs. Maybe I’ll catch up eventually (NOT). This stems from reading and reviewing so many genres *shrugs*.

A Pilgrimage of Swords may be a short, quick read, but for what it lacks in pages and words, it makes up for in fantastic storytelling. This novella gave me sort of a (and please, bear with me on this) Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone ending feel with the trials and tribulations of our characters along their pilgrimage, but mixed with the world-building and characters of Peter Newman’s The Vagrant.

Like I said, bear with me. It is an odd comparison, but it makes 100% sense to me; except this story is much more latter than the former. It is as close to grimdark as you can get without devoting yourself to gods of brutality and gore.

While this novella shows off Ryan’s ability to write such a great story in so few pages, it leaves me with the difficult job of writing an extended review. I could see myself rating APoS 5-stars if it were expanded upon, fleshing out the characters a little more and gifting us the pleasure of emotionally connecting with them. But all in all, there is plenty of hack’n’slash and fantasy goodness to go around that I think anyone that is a fan of Ryan, let alone the fantasy genre as a whole, will immensely enjoy.
Profile Image for Micah Hall.
249 reviews38 followers
June 13, 2021

I haven't read much more Anthony Ryan since Blood Song, of which I got a kick out of. After being in a bit of a fantasy rut, I wanted to try something short to get me out of my fix and decided on The Seven Sword series (2 published so far with book 3 later this year). This quick review will encompass my thoughts on both parts 1 and 2.

This series is seemingly inspired by the Sword and Sorcery sub genre: a travelling band questing towards a common goal with the main lead being a demon-sword wielding northman with a violent past. Cliché I know but it's a ton of fun because the tropes are executed well and the mystery of 'Pilgrim's' past, the interactions with the talking sword, and the pure adrenaline pumping action of the set pieces all lend towards an entertaining romp.

The main conceit of the series is that there a 'god' that created a massive wasteland in this world and there are various pilgrimages made to request something from said 'god'. The journey is a torturous one with plenty of interaction between creeping beasties or subterfuge within the travelling group. The group are all provided monikers, such as Pilgrim, and this made me think on the same Canterbury Tales-like framing that Hyperion by Dan Simmons had. As the story progresses, it becomes a story to attempt to gather the other 6 demon-haunted swords.

Overall, this was pulp fiction at its finest and a good time was had. Ryan has proven to be a capable writer and I'm looking forward to more of his work.
Profile Image for Maggy.
41 reviews20 followers
June 3, 2021
My Review for A Pilgrimage of Swords by Anthony Ryan.

My Book Review Blog

“The human consort of the Absolved, ” Book explained. “Said to be the most perfect man ever to grace the earth. The Absolved was smitten at the first glance they shared, as too was Thandril. It’s said their love endured for more than a century, the youth kept youthful by the Absolved’s devotion. But all love fades, as does all beauty.”

So what’s the book about?
A god gone mad destroyed the kingdom of Alnachim, originally full of magical beings and beauty. Now the once beautiful land has been turned into a wasteland inhabited by many ominous grotesque monsters. Yet despite the wounded land, people make pilgrimages in the hope of praying to the god and being heard. The pilgrimage to the centre of the cursed land will be a hurdle for the desperate souls. Pilgrim also wants to seek out the god to find redemption and sets out together with a teenage priest, a beast-charmer, a scholar, as well as an actor and two exiled lovers. The path to answer the prayer to the god is littered with madness and monsters, and yet even in the end it is not granted whether the prayer of the souls will be answered.

Why I wanted to read this series?
One of the first fantasy series I ever read was the Raven’s Shadow series by Anthony Ryan. To this day, it is still one of my favourites, because I was so enthusiastic about this series at the time and since then I have read almost exclusively fantasy. Moreover, just recently I read his Draconis Memoria series and was so excited about the whole idea of that series. The setting, the characters and as always the writing style was exceptionally good and special too. Of course, I had to read this series now as well because I am very excited to see what ideas he came up with. Even though I’m usually not a fan of short books, because simply the stories can’t build up sufficiently in my view, I also wanted to read this series. Of course I bought the signed editions, but because I was afraid of breaking them, I also got it as an eBook.

These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
The world in which the story is set seems like it was created out of a nightmare. While reading, you have an oppressive feeling, almost feel confined and just want to wake up from this nightmare. It is not only the grotesque creatures that contribute to this feeling, but also the story itself. The creatures seem like animals from the real world, only hideously changed, and yet there are many different creatures that you encounter on the way to the final destination. When you think that the world was once full of beautiful wonders, the creatures only seem more grotesque and hideous. But the journey also plays a part in making you feel a little like you’re locked in a nightmare, because these souls are desperate enough to want to walk the path in order to be heard by the god. Each one has his or her own problem as to why they are taking this journey. If one has to walk such a path, one can expect that the persons are poor souls whom nothing can actually help.
This book also seems mysterious because you don’t know at the beginning exactly what the goal of this journey is, why these people have come together, so you are somehow, as Anthony Ryan likes to do, just thrown into the story and have to find out bit by bit how everything is connected with each other. You ask yourself who the individual companions are, why they want to seek out this god, but also who this god actually is, can he really help these people and what do they hope for when they have found the god. At the same time, one hardly learns anything about the people and one always expects that one of these companions will turn out to be an enemy. The fact that the characters don’t say their real names, but give themselves one, makes it even more sinister. The places the companions roam also seem eerie and mysterious, everything is desolate and there seem to be no living creatures, it feels so empty and you want to know why it all happened. This journey reminded me of Diablo II, if anyone knows the game, you know that you always have a destination, but you don’t know the dangers of this journey, you meet strange creatures and you feel alone. Because there is not a soul inhabiting this world either, except in small villages where the rest of humanity stays – and this world seems just as mysterious to me.
Pilgrim was the perfect character to fit into this bleak and fearful world. Because he himself is very secretive and somehow scary. Even the fact that he can communicate with his sword doesn’t make him any more trustworthy. His sword shows Pilgrim’s identity repeatedly, because he is not a hero, but rather the evil one. However, not only does the sword have a demonic existence, we also learn about the demonic atrocities Pilgrim has done in his past. This connection between the sword and the bearer is unique, because on the one hand, they complement each other, but on the other hand, they are also different. For Pilgrim repeatedly reveals that he is not quite the callous person he initially appears to be, but does have a heart.

So what are my final thoughts about it?
I have never read anything so dark by Anthony Ryan and after this book, I have to say that I would like to read more in this direction by him. He manages to build up such a dark, gloomy world in so few pages, adds the right characters who seem mysterious and equally dark and adds eerie creatures, and of course this is paired with a breathtakingly great writing style. This world is so unique, although I know video games that have this flair; I have yet to read a book that could give me this scary and confining feeling. Even if at the beginning you don’t know exactly what the story of this book is about, the end is completely convincing. You learn that it is not only about repentance, but that there is much more behind this journey and the destination. Despite the small number of pages, this story had so much atmosphere that it sweeps you along and you can’t even put the book aside. I really hope that many more books will be written in this world and I’m off to the next volume!
Profile Image for RG.
3,089 reviews
April 19, 2020
For a Ryan book this is very short but its obviously a novella. Quite simple in comparison but its definitely fun. Would uave loved a more fleshed out version of this. Having only 100 or so pages doesnt allow for much extensive world buidling however I think its more so the characters that dont get a great background. Other than Pilgrim that was it. Would recommend his other work over this but if you want some quick fantasy fun then give it a go
Profile Image for Marie.
71 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2023
Pues me ha encantado.

Es una historia de fantasía oscurita que no se complica innecesariamente y que sorprende al final. Una aventura sencilla, con monstruos y criaturas malignas y un grupo de "héroes" que no lo son tanto jjajja. Ah, y una espada que habla. Qué me gusta a mí una espada que habla, qué risa, os lo juro.
Me ha gustado mucho el universo del libro y tengo ya ganas de seguir con los otros.

Elena, ¡gracias una vez más! ¡Que alguien te lo pague con los números de la lotería!
Profile Image for Kelly.
1,312 reviews502 followers
September 28, 2019
I feel like I have a few of Anthony Ryan's books in my TBR pile for a while now but I've never picked them up. Too many books, too little time... you know? But when I saw his new novella (set up in a new world), I immediately requested an ARC. I was lucky enough to be accepted and now here I am, reviewing it.

A pilgrimage of swords follow Pilgrim, a man with a sword and a voice that talks to him and is asking for blood. We don't know his past or his story but we know he's going to go on a journey to pray to the 'Mad God' and hopefully, be granted a wish. A few people are with him and they all have different ambitions. The path to the Mad God however is full of strange Beasts, monsters and dangerous paths.

Overall, I liked this book especially when there was action. However, it took me a while to figure out what was happening and I was never really into it. I wanted to skim some of the slow/ descriptive paragraphs but the ending was interesting and the way it ended made me want to know more.

(Thank you to the publisher for letting me read and review an ARC via Netgalley)
Profile Image for ทixi৳ท.
181 reviews13 followers
October 12, 2021
1st reading: July 28th 2020 -> 4 stars
2nd reading: October 10th 2021 -> 5 stars

by David Metzger

↠ All I can still say is that this book surprised me that I would love it so much.
↠ It has everything I love in a good high fantasy book. I love the thrills, the adventures, the brave and strong characters.
↠ Everyone has a secret that will be revealed by the end of the story. Many hope for salvation, but of them Pilgrim is the most mysterious character. I still love in him the fact that he puts the interests of others first.
↠ I have to say that I enjoyed second reading more than first reading.

“Perfection is an impossibility. It is through our imperfections that we come to know ourselves.”

{ July 28th 2020 -> 4 stars } Now I’m sure I’ll read the author’s other books as well. This is a very well written short story. It gave me a pleasant reading. All the characters were interesting characters in some way. It’s an exciting and action-packed story. I wouldn’t say for sure it was a unique story, but it was very exciting to read. Pilgrim became my favorite character, I liked his adjuvant intention that he wasn’t selfish. I am really looking forward to the sequel!
Profile Image for Dezideriu Szabo.
113 reviews15 followers
October 29, 2019
Five stars for Anthony Ryan's ability to manage an excellent world building and to develop strong characters in 128 pages.
Profile Image for Wolfmantula.
222 reviews21 followers
December 29, 2022
Follow me on Twitter: Twitter.com/wolfmantula
For more reviews, go to www.wolfmantula.com/book-reviews

MY ⭐️ RATING: 4.25/5
FORMAT: Kindle Whispersync

This is only an 80 page novella, that felt a bit more like a prologue of a story rather than the first book of a novella sized series, but I must say, this was good! There was slight action that typically ends within the same page or the next throughout as the characters make their treacherous pilgrimage to pray to the Mad God. The brutality of this story picks up later, and I was thrilled to see that it did in fact pick up more than what it had. I was worried that the little bits of action was all we were going to see, but Ryan saved the best for last with a great finish.

There was a lot of secrecy and eventual revelation of a character or two, and while this does sort of hinder character building, it helped with the story telling and I loved that aspect of how Ryan was able to give a story of characters and not knowing anyone or their motivations other than some basic misdirect information. It really kept me engaged to see if anything would be revealed and who they were. On top of that, there’s a talking sword imbued with a demon and a pet hyena! DID I JUST SAY TALKING SWORD IMBUED WITH A DEMON?!?! YEP!

“Bleed them enough and they’ll die, the voice confirmed. But I doubt they’ll all bleed so easily.”

The narration by Steven Brand was pretty terrific, he had a few voices that reminded me a bit of a couple film Icons, such as Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell as well as one that sounded like Manu Bennett. Hearing those voices definitely made me dig deeper into the story as it played out.

I was hoping I would like this, and while I had some reservations at first, I have to say this turned out to be a really good story and I plan to continue reading about The Seven Swords!
Profile Image for WS_BOOKCLUB.
331 reviews11 followers
July 10, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Travis.
715 reviews7 followers
May 22, 2020
I find it hard to truly rate and review novellas, especially ones that are a series because there is so little time spent in the world and with the characters. Now with a Pilgrimage of Swords I see so much potential and promise within this world, but I think this would have benefited from being just a tad bit longer so that the characters and the world could have been fleshed out more. I could have seen this being a novel, maybe not a full scale epic but you know what I mean. I was really engaged in the story and I am excited by the foundation Anthony Ryan laid out for us. Eager to see this series play out though and see what Anthony Ryan can achieve with a novella only series!
Profile Image for Flying Monkey.
338 reviews76 followers
June 20, 2020
3 Stars!

I enjoyed this short novella. I wish it would have been a full novel as I really wanted to learn more about the characters.
Profile Image for Trinity.
565 reviews67 followers
June 13, 2022
I had forgotten how much story is packed into these novellas! Anthony Ryan brings everything I want in fantasy with every book he writes. These short stories pack a serious punch and I am excited to be rereading them.
Profile Image for Ashley Williams.
Author 1 book281 followers
July 11, 2019
This was a really interesting novella that I hope is the beginning of a series. There's so much potential in Ryan's world of demons and corruption. Overall, I really liked this manuscript and can't wait to see what Ryan has next.

ARC provided by Subterranean Press in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Traveling Cloak.
275 reviews39 followers
September 23, 2020
A Pilgrimage of Swords is a novella and the first in the Seven Swords series. I find it very interesting the way author Anthony Ryan is taking on this series by releasing as a set of novellas instead of a set of full-scale books. It feels very episodic, which I enjoy. Pilgrimage is more or less an introduction to the series, which I categorize as adventure fantasy meets grimdark. The characters in this book are going on a quest, and it also contains elements of violence and dark elements. This was an interesting and fun combination.

One of the aspects of this book that sets it apart for me is the way Ryan tackles the novella aspect. Being a short story, it can be hard to pull off everything you want as a writer while also leaving the reader feeling satisfied. There are just not enough pages for it all. But, Ryan does a great job of that while throwing a few fantasy standards to the wind. There is not much world building, as this story focuses solely on the one quest: find the Mad God (who happens to inhabit the center of a trap-riddled cave) and a prayer will be granted. Or so the fable says. That is all you need to know about this world, as it is an engrossing adventure that kept me on my toes the whole time. There is no lead-up, here, either. The reader comes in mid-conversation between Seeker and Pilgrim and it just… goes. No fuss, no muss in this story. Any superfluous detail, item, or event is thrown out. All that is left is the core of the narrative, a fun and intriguing adventure that kept me in the story from beginning to end.

In a book like this the way the characters are drawn up is really important, as well. One of the most important aspects of a story is how the readers connect with the characters, and in a novella that can be difficult to achieve. Ryan really does the job in Pilgrimage, though, but not by traditional means. Just as with the world building, traditional character building is chopped, for the most part – or, at least it is not done in a whole-scale, grandiose way. We learn about the characters subtly, through their actions and dialogue while they complete their quest. They begin their journey by meeting up at the mouth of the cave to find the Mad King, each with their own motivation for doing so. Each also possesses their own skillset, which, in my opinion, is the core of an adventure: a crew of warriors, each with differing abilities, attempting to complete a quest. Going through this journey felt very video game-like to me, as they faced a series of tests and traps. And we do get to know the characters along the way, it is just built in to action. Their interactions (or non-interactions – remember, they just met!) along with the details of the quest creates a lot of tension, which is what drives the story for me.

Back to my big question: can Anthony Ryan pull off an adventure story like this in so few pages? It worked for me. Ryan’s writing-style pulls it off, getting so much out of so little. I definitely recommend A Pilgrimage of Swords for fans of fantasy and am very much anticipating Book 2 (and the next episode) of the series, The Kraken’s Tooth. Good thing I will not have to wait long, as I have an ARC waiting for me. On to the next…
Profile Image for Elena Linville.
Author 1 book57 followers
July 18, 2019
You can find this review and more on my blog.

This was an okay novella. From what I understood, it serves as a prequel or introduction to a new series, and as such, it did a good job introducing the main character, Pilgrim, as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse into the world he inhabits.

Unfortunately, the story fell rather short for me. We follow the journey of several characters who are thrown together because all of them chose to undertake a pilgrimage into the domain of a mad god, in the hope that he will grant their most sacred wish. As such, they should all have their own stories, right? Something that pushed them to this act of desperation. And desperation it is, because nobody ever returned from the realm of the Mad God...

Yet, we don't really SEE those characters, because because they don't have personalities of their own. They are cutouts with labels put on top of them - the terminally sick woman and her grieve-stricken husband, the fierce huntress searching for a lost loved one, etc. It doesn't help that we follow this journey through the Pilgrim's eyes and his voice is just as bland as the description of the other characters. Seriously, the only character with any grain of personality in this book is the cursed sword. He is a homicidal demon, but at least he has some nuances.

As such, it's hard to empathize with the characters, and if some of them die gruesome deaths, I just shrugged and read along. I think the only character I felt any empathy for was Priest, but mostly because I never learned what his purpose for this pilgrimage was. What was he going to ask of his god? Why had he volunteered to lead this doomed group?

My other problem was that I couldn't figure out Pilgrim's motivation either. For seeing this story entirely from his POV, we get no insight into his inner thoughts. Apart from the banter with his cursed sword, there is nothing. He is painted as this ruthless killer, a scourge upon the world, but his actions go against that picture. Also, his reaction when discovering Book's true identity in the later part of the story goes against his whole character, especially when we learn in the last page of this story that he dedicated his life to destroying that particular church and its adepts.

I liked the little I saw of the worldbuilding and the hints at other cultures and religions inhabiting it, but I'm not sure I liked that enough to follow Pilgrim for a whole book or a whole series.

PS. I received and advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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