It has been quite a while since I started reading The Riyria Revelations series; and I had a hard time understanding why I put it aside. Gladly I came to the realization that I had too much new stuff around me that I wanted to try; hence the distraction from the series. I want to be clear that the “separation” was never caused by the series’ quality, I just had a hard time adjusting to Goodreads and the amount of awesome fantasy telling out there.
In case you missed out, here is the review to Theft of Swords!
I took copious notes while I was reading the book – which comprises two stories of Riyria duo and their friends – and I have so many positive notes about this series and Michael J. Sullivan. I confess that I was so impressed while reading Rise of Empire that I immediately bought the hardcover version of Age of Myth which begins a new series (Legends of the First Empire) and cannot wait to delve into that story!
And after a gigantic intro – yes, I am so hyped about this book and the story that I would just gush all over the place!
In summary this is a 4.5 stars book. Two great characters are in the middle of the events, working together to avoid a war, facing a genius foe with a grudge against Royce; and emotions are running high!
Now, this book contains two installments of The Riyria Chronicles – and they are one better than the other. Yet, provided that they are separate stories, the book just flows with finesse.
Let’s start with the best elements of the book. The characters – especially Royce and Hadrian but also Arista – are the strongest asset of the series and this book in particular. Two more elements I will touch later: The story and the writing style!
And now it is time to delve into the details – hence, spoiler alert!
Royce and Hadrian are the two members of the Riyria duo – basically, extremely skilled thieves, who made a fortune – at least I would expect so! – by pulling the most complicated heists or other type of tasks (deliver messages where no one has gone yet!).
They are also the perfect yin and yang: Royce – with elvish blood which is a significant trait in all the books – is a ruthless, calculating and scary thief, able to use the shadows as his cover, with difficulties to show empathy and interest in other people. Hadrian instead loves people, the world, skilled warrior – actually so skilled he does not have competitors in the field – who values loyalty and honor. The two are pretty much family and they love each other.
Book 3 starts with a strain on the relationship and I think the best part of the book is Hadrian development and interest. Once the relationship is repaired (also because Hadrian has a very good heart) Book 4 was all about the couple at sea and as gladiators. And I was happy!
But let’s talk about Arista, princess, clever and spoiled. But wait this book is all about Arista and her development, her becoming the strong female lead she is supposed to be. She is an educated young woman (an education she fought to have in a time and place where women do not care about that aspect too much), strong willed and stubborn (which are not necessarily the same thing) becoming a (not so successful) ambassador for her reign. And from this starting point, she becomes a young woman, down to earth, understanding of struggle and generous. Also, independent and magic! Yes, magic as in she is a witch and embraces her skills! She also falls in love for the first time and falls in love for a second time – although she will have her heart broken twice in a short term. To be fair, I am expecting Arista to finally settle with Hadrian but only Heir of Novron will tell! Also, she spends book 4 being a spy, triggered by the murder of Esrahaddon – and I was in absolute shock – launching Arista in mission impossible mode. Arista successfully infiltrates behind enemy lines – although she ends up pushing her luck so much she ends up in prison.
In short, Arista is one of my favorite female characters lately – and I have not seen many male authors being able to create such successful (and not ordinary) female leads so an additional praise for Michael J. Sullivan!
We also find new (good) characters and I loved Amilia, she is just so genuine and a great care giver. She really puts it all out and it shows. I want to have an Amilia in my life.
The story is just this Arthurian tale, in which the main difference is that the main characters are not traditional Prince Charming, because the main characters are thieves and a woman; yet, the amount of work and dedication required are just staggering and the main characters do not get side tracked. They are a new version of heroes ultimately. You will find the story to be catching your attention yet it is not complicated enough to make you go back and forth on the page to understand what is happening.
Finally, I genuinely think this book is rich in violence – not grim dark but there is a bit of everything, assassination, brutal killings, uprising, gore description of brutality, attempted rape; so far from light topics – but Michael J. Sullivan‘s delivery of the characters, the dialog and the descriptions just add a lighter tone to the telling which makes this book even more magnetic than already is with the cool stuff happening to the main characters!
In essence, this is a great work of fantasy, I would go as far as to say that anyone would love this series, it is one of those books which can be easily read and loved by every fantasy reader.