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review 2017-03-29 05:06
The Crown Tower
The Crown Tower: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 1 - Michael J. Sullivan,Recorded Books LLC,Tim Gerard Reynolds

Hadrian and Royce are back...in time! No, they didn't time travel. This is fantasy-lite, not sci-fi-lite. ;) But this prequel goes back to when they first met and follows them on their first adventure together, when they were just as much a threat to each other as the enemies chasing them.

 

I was hoping that jumping to the prequel would show an improvement in story structure and writing, and that bet paid off. This was much better paced, with a stronger sense of the main characters' POVs and not so obvious twists. I was especially interested in how Hadrian and Royce went from not trusting each other to becoming the BFFs we saw in Theft of Swords. This is just the beginning - there are twelve years between the starts of these two series - but it's a promising beginning. We also spend time seeing how Gwen gets started in Medford.

 

I would still like to see more fantasy in this supposed fantasy series, instead of the sprinkles we get here and there. But as a fun, easygoing romp, this series hits the spot.

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review 2017-03-27 22:02
Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan - My Thoughts
Age of Myth - Michael J. Sullivan

I was so excited to hear about this book - the first in a new series by one of my fave fantasy authors - and thank all the little gods, I LOVED IT!

Age of Myth tells tales from long, long ago in the world that we've come to know over the Riyria books and they aren't quite as they've been handed down over the millenia!  *LOL*

On some levels, it's your typical big fantasy book, there are elves and dwarves and humans and demons and magic and mystics, but that's just a framework.  The world-building is great - very consistent with what I have come to expect from the Riryia books, which is a good thing.  The plot works for me - others might find it similar to other things they've read before and maybe it is.  Hell, I've been reading epic fantasy for over 40 years, so yeah, many parts are familiar, but... BUT I love the author's voice and the way he creates his characters - I LOVE the characters!  They have flaws, they're not all gorgeous and capable, they have secrets and some of them have plans... BIG plans.  And as for that plot, well, I can honestly say that almost all the important twists I didn't see coming until I was expected to see them coming.

One thing that I love about Sullivan's writing is his sense of humour.  I love it!  I actually chuckle out loud while I'm reading at times.  And it's not that the book is supposed to be funny, okay, it's not Robert Asprin here.  People are funny and Sullivan knows this, so his characters are funny at times. Malcolm and Raithe especially.  Apropos of the humour, seldom am I moved to highlight passages from books, but I did this one:

"It was what the tree said to do.  And if you can't trust an ancient talking tree, what was the point of having one?" 



I loved that!!

In the end, I loved my read and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out this summer!  (BTW, Sullivan writes his whole series before he publishes the first book, so there are no worries about not getting the end of the tale!)

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review 2017-03-22 02:33
Theft of Swords
Theft of Swords - Michael J. Sullivan,Tim Gerard Reynolds

One of my friends described this series as fantasy-lite and boy is it ever. Hadrian and Royce are fun protags, but the stories are on the thin side. 

 

I didn't realize this volume has two different stories, so I was getting annoyed at how quickly the first story appeared to be resolving itself. But even after realizing what was going on, the writing and resolution of the first story is still too reliant on villain monologues. The story didn't take any unexpected twists and the characters don't have much depth. The second story was somewhat better in construction and the way it was paced. The fantasy elements are slow to be integrated, maybe to ease the reader into the world? Though I'm not sure why a fantasy fan would need such easing. (Ok, GRRM is on the feet-dragging side of this too, but his characters and their various relationships are complex and complicated, and the world they live in feels real. And even when the villains reveal things, you can't be sure they're telling the truth.)

 

The narrator has that fantasy-type voice which works well with the narration, but he doesn't have much range on the voices. A lot of the characters start sounding the same after awhile.

 

These are decent stories and fun, but I can't say I'm tempted to continue. I did pick up The Crown Tower during Audible's last sale, so I'll try that one next and see if some of these issues get improved upon or not. 

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review 2017-02-02 23:57
Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1) by Michael J. Sullivan
Age of Myth: Book One of The Legends of the First Empire - Michael J. Sullivan

In 2012, I picked up The Theft of Swords – Volume 1 of The Riyria Revelations, which contains the first two books of the series, The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan. I found the books to be quite good and continued on with the series. By the end of the series I had become an avid fan along with a ton of other people and Michael J. Sullivan’s books continue to rank in my favorites. Michael started out writing stories for his children and he now has a huge fan following. He is very involved with his fan base and his books are continually at the top of the Best Sellers in Fantasy. Let me tell you, it’s well-deserved.

 

Age of Myth is book 1 of The Legends of the First Empire series by Michael J. Sullivan. The book starts off with an Author’s Note for those who have read the Riyria books, noting that this series is set three thousand years before the events in those novels. But let me clarify that you don’t have to have read those series prior to reading this one, although I highly recommend you read them some time very soon.

 

For Herkimer and his son Raithe, life on their side of the river in Dureya is not fruitful. Dureya is a barren land and their clan is hungry. So one day Herkimer and Raithe dare to cross the river to hunt and they end up getting caught slaughtering one of the deities’ deer. The deities are those who are called the Fhrey, the most powerful in the land and known throughout as immortal beings.

 

In Dureya, Herkimer is the only man to wield a sword—a metal blade. Herkimer is known as Coppersword and he is a feared and respected man. Because Herkimer fought on the side of the Fhrey for over 30 years against the GulaRhunes, he thinks his indiscretion of being caught with weapons on their side of the river may be excused. But that’s not the case, and in the ensuing fallout, Raithe’s father Herkimer is killed by one of the Fhrey, Shegon. Raithe then grabs his father’s blade and in turn strikes Shegon. Raithe is shocked to learn that although the Fhrey are very long-lived, they are not immortal, as myth would have it. Shegon now lies dead at his hand and Raithe’s life, along with everyone else’s, will forever be changed when the world learns that the gods can indeed be killed.

 

It’s the end of one era and the beginning of another as Raithe finds himself on the run in a strange land with one of the deity’s servants, Malcolm, by his side. As they venture into the Crescent Forest, Raithe realizes that although Malcolm professes to think of his life with the Fhrey as if he were a slave, rather than a servant, he has really led a pampered life compared to Raithe. The two make very off-kilter traveling companions, with the self-effacing Raithe now becoming a legend, accompanied by his hilarious sidekick, Malcolm who takes delight in embellishing Raithe’s feats in order to further his fame as Raithe of Dureya, “The God Killer.”

 

Raithe and Malcolm make their way into the village of the Mystic Dahl Rhen, where the chieftain, Reglan of the House of Mont, currently rules Clan Rhen. They are brought before Reglan’s wife, Persephone, the Lady of the Lodge. Persephone has lost her first son at birth, the second to sickness, and recently the only one who had grown to adulthood was killed by Grin the Brown. Now, as these two newcomers arrive in Dhal Rhen, Persephone learns that Reglan has also fallen to the bear known as Grin the Brown while seeking revenge for their son’s death. But Persephone will need to put aside her grief to become a leader to her people.

 

There is also another recent arrival to Dahl Rhen, a girl named Suri, who is accompanied by a white wolf named Minna. Legend has it that Suri was stolen as a baby by the crimbals, creatures of the forest. In Suri’s case, she somehow got away during her first year of life, and was found and raised by Tura. A child fortunate enough to get away from the crimbals is known as a malkin because they are never quite right again. Suri is indeed an unusual girl, one of those naïve and mysterious characters that I find utterly captivating. She has mystical abilities and talks to the trees. Her latest visions have led her to seek Raglan in Dahl Rhen to let the chieftain know that “we’re going to die.”

 

These are just some of the great characters we are introduced to in Age of Myth, which is the start of an epic six book series. No one builds unforgettable characters, both male and female, like Mr. Sullivan and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Which leads us to the other great thing about Michael J. Sullivan, and that is, as with the Riyria series, the entire series is already written. What that means for us as readers is that we won’t have to wait years for the next book in the series. They already have scheduled release dates. Yippee! I can’t tell you what this means to me! I’m sure a few of you fantasy readers know who I am referring to when I say “oh come on already” whilst I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the next book in the series. I know I can name two series that fit this scenario right off the bat! (Note: Not included in the two, but one author who can be excused for this is Robert Jordan, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness while writing his series and did sadly pass away.) Oh but, I got off on a soapbox rant, didn’t I? Back to the subject at hand-->as I said in the beginning of my review, I am always so happy to pick up a book by Michael J. Sullivan, and this book was certainly no exception to that rule. Sullivan is an extraordinary talent in the world of writing and I am confident that if you read his books you will absolutely agree. I didn’t stop with getting the ARC of this book. I actually purchased an autographed copy from the author’s website. Not something I usually do but I have become that much of a fan. I want to read these books over and over and over again  Read Age of Myth, you’ll love it!

 

I want to thank the publisher (Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

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review 2017-02-01 03:47
Another great installment
The Death of Dulgath - Michael J. Sullivan

I'm often wary of prequels for fear of contradictions, knowing certain things have to go a certain way, knowing certain characters must be safe, that sort of thing. Still, I really never get tired of Hadrian and Royce, and despite the many pitfalls that come with prequels, the author managed to give us a fairly new story with the two of them, with new insights into the characters and how they developed into the people they are when they're introduced in the beginning of the Riyria Revelations.

 

Royce's cynical, extreme curmudgeon perspective is something that I have trouble relating to, but at the same time, I love watching his views get challenged, and seeing him make connections and care about other people despite his cynicism. He's a complicated character, and I love that. I didn't see quite as much new ground where Hadrian was concerned, but he's still his likable self, so people who enjoy him won't be disappointed.

 

New characters were introduced that I found really compelling, particularly Lady Dulgath and Sherwood Stow. Both characters had a lot of depth that made them feel very human, and had some surprises in their stories.

 

The only thing I didn't enjoy here was the point of view of one of the villain characters. The character was just so irredeemably vile that I tended to set the book aside to do other activities whenever that person's chapters came up. If you're someone who enjoys villain perspectives, you'll probably like it just fine. It's just not something I personally enjoy. Thankfully, there wasn't too much of that character's perspective for me to read. It was still well worth it.

 

The story had mystery and surprise, great character development... really, everything I want and expect from this series.

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