“The Riyria Revelations”
Michael J. Sullivan
There’s no orphan destined to save the world, nor ultimate evil to be slain…
just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time trying to survive.
(Taken from the author’s website.)
I was drawn into this series because the blurb on the back of the first book didn’t sound like a typical epic fantasy novel. “They killed the King. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.” Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles – until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.
The second thing that drew me in was the sense of humour evident within the first few pages. Royce and Hadrian are witty and banter even in dire situations, and there’s been many times that their conversations have made me smile or laugh out loud. And then there’s the characters themselves. Royce is dark, dangerous, unpredictable. Hadrian is idealistic, good-natured and the sort of person you like almost immediately. They’re opposites, but work so well together, both personally and professionally as Riyria – that’s what they call themselves. I’ve grown to love both of them immensely, and am glad the end of this series isn’t the end of reading about Royce and Hadrian, because Sullivan is writing another series about them (yay!).
I did have moments of being unsure about the book, though. Some of the dialogue and descriptions in ‘Theft of Swords’ just rubbed me the wrong way or weren’t as natural as I thought they could be. First impressions of Arista and Alric, the princess and newly crowned king of Melengar were iffy – I didn’t understand how a brother and sister could be so unnaturally unfamiliar with each other. But as the book progressed and I became more and more engrossed, I either didn’t notice anymore or the writing improved – probably the latter?
Having said that, even though there were moments in the first book that I was unsure, the plot was always intriguing enough, and the characters likeable and interesting enough, that I would read on. And am I glad I did! This series has to be one of my favourites. I love that it’s not your typical go on an epic quest sort of fantasy. I love the humour and sarcasm and the relationships that are formed between the characters. As in most fantasy books, this world has a history, but a history that is colourful and weaved into the storyline, a history that isn’t just some random facts thrown together but something that feels well thought out and relevant to the characters. The history of the world has shaped how they think and how they act. I also liked how I really didn’t know what was going to happen. This is possibly the second time I’ve read a book and seriously not known whether or not the author would kill off one of the main characters. The only other time I can remember this happening was when I read ‘Magician’ by Raymond E. Feist.
The final book of the series was the most exciting book of the three. At least, it was for me. I’d only got to page 200 and already felt like there’d been enough excitement for the climax of several books, not the first two hundred pages! And the actual climax? I have a habit of reaching exciting bits and my eyes involuntarily skipping ahead to find out what happens. You don’t know how much willpower it took to consciously keep my eyes on the words I was supposed to read! That climax was intense. Really. It’s been a while since I felt that anxious while reading a book.
Right, I’ve probably rambled on long enough! Basically: Good series, go read it! Michael J. Sullivan has written a prequel to this series called ‘The Riyria Chronicles’, the first book of which will be released in August 2013 and the second, a month after! Safe to say I am: a) happy they are both released so close together; and b) anticipating reading more about Royce and Hadrian.