Review: Percepliquis

Percepliquis.jpgTitle: Percepliquis (2012)
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 620
Series: The Riyria Revelations #6 (Series Tracker)

I was very much into the first two installments of this series, disinterested by the middle two, and pleased/content with the final two. Author Michael J. Sullivan certainly finished with a flourish after laying it all on the line in Percepliquis – a satisfying final volume of an enjoyable series. Sullivan clearly excels at plotting out long-term story arcs filled with compelling twists and turns. This bodes well for the remaining books in his Legends of the First Empire series, due out over the next few years.

★★★½ out of 5

Review: Wintertide

8697584.jpgTitle: Wintertide (2010)
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 317
Series: The Riyria Revelations #5 (Series Tracker)

I had been let down by the prior two installments, but this penultimate volume is certainly a return to form. The story is much tighter, with more characters working together or in interweaving narrative threads, and the overarching plot moves forward in compelling and unexpected ways. I don’t have the same level of excitement I did when I started Royce and Hadrian’s journey, but I’m still intrigued to see how it all concludes in the final volume.

★★★¼ out of 5

Review: The Emerald Storm

TheEmeraldStormTitle: The Emerald Storm (2010)
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 375
Series: The Riyria Revelations #4 (Series Tracker)

Royce and Hadrian continue their journey to locate the Heir of Novron and install him to his rightful throne. On this adventure they board The Emerald Storm, a New Empire ship with a crew whose allegiance is never quite what it seems.

This ship tale was not on par with Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders or Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies, but it’s another satisfactory installment in the series. I found this second pair of books to be less compelling than the first pair, perhaps because I’ve become more invested in the overarching story that spans the series rather than the plots of each individual book. Luckily, Royce and Hadrian continue to be a fun duo and I will see their journey through to the end.

★★★ out of 5

Review: Nyphron Rising

41QcBGJCE0L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Nyphron Rising (2009)
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 350
Series: The Riyria Revelations #3 (Series Tracker)

In Nyphron Rising, Royce and Hadrian travel south with Princess Arista to rally Nationalist sympathizers to their cause, as the Nyphron Church attempts to use their clout and sham “Heir of Novron” to conquer Elan. After two stellar opening books, this was a bit of a letdown. As the focus shifts to military maneuvering and away from caper-like adventures, I find myself less invested in the proceedings.

Royce and Hadrian remain wonderful leads, but these stories live and die with who else is along for the ride. I loved Myron the monk in the first book and Eshrahaddon the wizard in the second, but there is no standout side character to be found in this story. Princess Arista has risen to supporting role and has a nice arc, but it seems like the best is yet to come for her. These are all minor quibbles for an overall story that still feels fresh and fun, and will hopefully have major payoffs in the back half of the series.

★★★ out of 5

Review: Avempartha

avemparthaTitle: Avempartha (2009)
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 331
Series: The Riyria Revelations #2

Michael J. Sullivan’s books are fantasy comfort food  — likable characters, charming dialogue, clean plots, and unexpected twists all make for something infinitely enjoyable. Avempartha is no different. The second book of the Riyria Revelations series finds Hadrian and Royce, our intrepid rogues, tasked with breaking into yet another tower. This time they contend with a mythical flying reptile (not a dragon!) and the helpless villagers of a nearby town that have drawn the ire of the beast.

Despite hitting many of the same beats as the first novel, Avempartha charts some new territory — unforeseen information about the past of Hadrian and Royce is revealed, an unknown peasant girl rises to prominence, and the Church of Nyphron misuses their authority to further their (somewhat) noble aims.

I was disappointed that Myron, the naive monk from The Crown Conspiracy (see review), is nowhere to be found, but Esrahaddon, the 900-year-old wizard, is elevated into a supporting role, and his hidden maneuvering and prevarication makes him a compelling foil for Hadrian and Royce. The presence of princess Arista and peasant girl Thrace brings more visibility to the female characters of the world, but they are mostly used as the pawns of others and don’t have much of their own agency.

Sullivan has built a familiar, yet unique world that has deep mythical roots. Knowing that the lore is being fleshed out in his prequel series The Legends of the First Empire (see Age of Myth review) ensures that I don’t gloss over any passing mentions of the history of the world. I am more than happy to continue the Riyria journey in the present day and I look forward to moving on to Nyphron Rising.

★★★★ out of 5

Review: The Crown Conspiracy

146902Title: The Crown Conspiracy
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 324
Series: The Riyria Revelations #1
Read via: Kindle

Review: Michael J. Sullivan writes some really delightful fantasy stories. Having now finished two of his novels (see my review of Age of Myth) I have a better sense of his overall writing style–charming characters, witty dialogue, swift-moving plots, adventure, humor, wizards, political intrigue, etc. I’ll take that combination any day of the week.

Something else I noted in my prior reading of Sullivan was his ability to construct interesting side characters. Myron, the wide-eyed monk, is another instant classic. Similarly, Royce and Hadrian, the novel’s protagonists, are a very charismatic duo. Their absence from any scene immediately makes it less compelling.

There is certainly a sense of a “long game” being set up in The Crown Conspiracy that will span the six novels of the series, and I’ll certainly be following things through to the end to see how it all unfolds (assuming the books maintain this level of quality).

★★★★¼ out of 5