I just recently finished Age of Myth by Micheal J. Sullivan, published on June 28th, 2016 by Del Rey. Not only this is a gush review but the book is an actual 5 start out of 5 – hoping that the series will continue to impress me the same way!
I have read the Riyria Revelations last year and I had a blast. The best aspect of the series is the amazing relationship between the two main characters. After reading this book I believe it is safe to say that the aspect of Michael J. Sullivan’s stories that stands out are the characters and their interaction. There is one more element that I want to praise which is that each chapter start with a “quote” from the Book of Brin and, albeit is not an original idea, I just enjoyed every single quote being perfectly tailored to the events or narrative of the specific chapter.
When I found out there was going to be a brand new series, I just could not wait to read the new series by Micheal J. Sullivan. The book is moderately long – around 400 pages in its hardcover – yet I could not put the book down, it took me about 3 days (during the week) to finish it. I felt entirely invested in the story and the characters; it genuinely felt like Micheal J. Sullivan’s book yet with an additional level of maturity, a writer who has improved his story telling skills and it most certainly paid off, at least for me. And The Legends of the first empire is the hardcover book debut for the author: Well done – and deserved professional achievement!
Also, allow me to praise the cover of the book (MINOR SPOILER AHEAD: which actually depicts a scene of the book, possibly one the pivotal moments of the story contained in this book) which reminds me of the Impressionists, since it is an outside scene and it almost feels like the painting style is less precise and more brush strokes like.
And now, beware of the spoiler!
First things first. In the introduction, the author provides us with some general points of reference to the series – for instance, it takes place around 3000 years before the Riyria Chronicles and does not spoil any of the other stories he wrote so far. The most important (or at least interesting to me) aspect of the introduction is that the series is completed, before the first book was published. As a reader I understand there is going to be continuity in the publication – better said, the delay in publication would not depend on the story not being written – which is always a good anchor to stick to a story!
Let me start for the ending – because my review will be pretty much unusual, focusing mostly on the characters rather than the story itself – by stating very simply that it was one of the best endings I have read in quite some time. It opens up a significant plot twist or development and it does it without revealing much and, at least for me, I did not see it coming. Not at all. I will get into some details in my characters’ review!
The story itself is a “traditional” fantasy story, in a traditional fantasy setting. It is interesting to know that the world is pretty much divided between humans (called Rhune) and the gods (called Fhrey). One last side track from the review of the characters, is that the Fhrey are actually significantly more complex in social structure than the humans know, having different clans – and importance associated with the clan – and the highest are the Miralyth to which the royal family pertains to!
So let me quickly bring your attention to the characters.
Raithe, a young man who has fighting in his blood but wants to break free from it and his biggest dream is to settle down and have a family of his own in a peaceful place. The story though brings him since the very beginning to the opposite, making him the first (and so far) only Godkiller that the Rhune have. Raithe is fierce though and does not back down from a challenge, even when it seems impossible for him to survive, such as when he confronted the Galantias knowing that he would not be able to defeat seven gods and a couple of extras (specifically a giant and a goblin).
Malcolm, one of the funniest (better, sarcastic) characters in the whole story; ready to entertain the audience with the story of the Godkiller although he has an important part to play in making Raithe the Godkiller. He is also a slave of the Fhrey. Most importantly, he has a special ability to know gods unconscious by using a stone to knock them out. He is also a fairly good warrior – although he tries to hide it – which makes sense in light of the ending. He is (or was?) the slave of Nyphron and the last chapter showed that Nyphron seems to be stirring part of the narrative with his choices. But where were these choices lead? What motivated the decision? Most importantly, can we trust Malcolm?
Suri, the your seer with an extremely unusual behavior – more a wild animal rather than a human – and a tight bond to Minna, her loyal wolf who seems mostly a dog and, most importantly, with a taste for the adventures Suri takes her to. She is also a key initiator of the events in this story, bringing news to Persephone of impending doom for the Rhune, although she cannot clearly see what the actual danger is. She is also key to several development of the story and becomes the adopted daughter of Persephone through heart-breaking events. Furthermore, she is even interesting for the Fhrey – she is the only human who seems to know how to wield the Art (or magic really) which appeared to be a trait unique to the Miralyth only – and Arion takes a keen interest in her!
Persephone, probably the best character that Micheal J. Sullivan ever wrote in my opinion. We get to know her in a time of grief having lost her only son and husband to a bear attack (or what seemed to be a bear attack). A woman who was the wife of the chieftain of Dhal Rhen and is asked to leave her home to make space to the new chieftain. She is a strong and clever woman who has a heart and a keen interest in keeping Dahl Rhen wealthy and safe. She finds herself disputing many choices of the new chieftain primarily driven by her experience and common sense – not to mention guts that few have in the dahl. Her relentless search for the truth and will to protect Rhen are ultimately the shield that protects the village and start the events at a grander scale – is she going to unify all the human clans to fight against the gods?
Arion, a Fhrey woman with the ability to wield magic, a powerful, fair and accomplished lady who, after starting tutoring the young prince Mawyndule, is asked to find and bring back the leader of the Galantias who appears to have deserted. She also appears to have a complicated relationship her mother but the most important part of the dialogue I believe is around the Door. What role will the Door play in the next books? I cannot wait to explore the relevance of the Door . Arion is also the protagonist of one of the most impressive displays of power in this story, more powerful than all the Galantias together, in a great fight sequence! In addition, she is curious, openly so and not biased by the ranks and races, and Suri will peak her interest. She will be so interested in Suri – and her ability to use the Art – that Arion will pretty much take the side of the Rhune when Gryndal comes to kill Nyphon and the Rhune in the dahl incidentally.
Finally Nyphron and his Galantias, deserters because they claim did not want to kill an entire Rhune village in search for the Godkiller. Yet, it appears that Nyphron’s father taught Raithe’s father to fight, skill that were passed over to Raithe. I have to confess that I felt the Galantias were extremely underused in this book but I believe that the ending warranted their presence from early on. I cannot wait to see what Nyphron’s schemes are and what his goal truly is!
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Have you read Age of Myth? What did you think about the book? Are there other elements that you would consider relevant in the book that I have not highlighted?
If you have not started reading the book just yet, I strongly encourage you to – or at least to add this book in your TBR list. This is an extremely rewarding story, if you are a fantasy reader!