A thoroughly entertaining and epic slice of heroic fantasy fiction with battles and heroes aplenty, yet there is more to focus on here than initially meets the eye. With reluctance legend Kell Kressia, who for ten years has been tending his farm, sets out on a quest to save the land from an icy terror. Author Stephen Aryan’s debut was a finalist in the David Gemmell Morningstar Award, and The Coward definitely put me in mind of the late and great author. There is a solid backbone of decency, with the traditional action, adventure and swordplay on offer, this book also looks at cowardice, heroism, friendship, and love. Set in a world that I felt on the edge of already knowing, the landscape is almost recognisable, yet different enough to create interest. The characters have some depth while still being larger than life. This is a lively yet simple tale, one that you can wholeheartedly throw yourself into, and there are some unexpected moments to help you along the way. The plot sings along and makes this a read you can roar through. It’s a thundering introduction to a new series, and you can sign me up for book two already! A heady hit of escapism, The Coward is rollicking-good read.