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review 2017-12-19 02:59
Enjoyable high fantasy
Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations) - Michael J. Sullivan

Had this book on my radar for several years, finally bought the first book ('Theft') and then let it sit in my room for a few more years before finally deciding to take the plunge and read it during a long plane flight. It was a perfect fit!


Royce and Hadrian are two men who have just been framed for killing the king. The princess frees them and tells them to kidnap her own brother (!) to keep her brother safe from whoever the murderers are.What seems like a straightforward adventure of palace intrigue unfolds into a much larger conspiracy/epic story that will have major consequences for Royce, Hadrian, and everyone around them. If they can ever get straight up answers from the wizard with no hands.


At least, that's what I have so far. I was intrigued to learn Sullivan wrote the entire series up before publishing them. He writes up his reasoning on Goodreads as he wanted to spread out the world-building and character development (so while Royce and Hadrian seem underdeveloped in the first two books to me it seems that this may have been intentional). I really liked that he was upfront about this and as someone who had to abandon the 'Wheel of Time' series long before it was even being close to completion (as in, there were only 6 or 7 books out at the time I read them) and who sympathizes with 'Game of Thrones' fans who want the next book I thought that was good. Not everyone would like for this approach which I understand (I think this may also mean I have to read the other two close together or binge-read or else I risk waiting too long and losing the threads).


Thus far I enjoy it. I can understand if some feel the book may feel more like a "sketch" of how the magic systems work, who are the various "peoples" who live in this world, the backstories of our two protagonists, etc. And although the series begins with a rather exciting sequences I wasn't quite feeling the writing and was concerned the book would be mediocre at best. But ultimately I found the series refreshing so far. These stories might seem super familiar (young prince ends up seeing the world before becoming a leader, isolated monk finally explores the walls beyond his abbey, young woman is revealed to be something that will have huge consequences for the rest of the series, etc.) but I found Sullivan's writing engaging. I appreciated the occasional insertions of dry humor, which can sometimes difficult to achieve in writing. I felt like the second book ('Avempartha') was slow and not quite as good but it picks up when you start seeing the threads tie together and the action really picks up.


It's a refreshing read. I'm not sure I've read too many books that were published in this way: written up in its entirety and then released (plus combined in huge omnibuses/omnibi [?]). I enjoy binge-reading and will wait years and years for a series/trilogy to be completed before even looking at the first entry. So I'm curious how the rest of the saga stacks up. 


To warn the reader there are scenes of blood and gore and battle. They aren't too gory but they do happen and characters you like do get injured and will die (and a few you don't also will also suffer). There is one scene of what I think is an attempted rape (at least, it seemed that way to me?) in the beginning of Book 2. Sullivan answered a question on Goodreads where he specifically states he wanted a book that was accessible for all ages and wrote the book for his then-13 year old daughter who has dyslexia. 


I'm also not sure if you can find the individual books separately so if the size/weight/other issues regarding holding a physical book is a concern then an e-book or audiobook is the way to go. I had considered not bringing this book despite purchasing it specifically for my long flight because of going through airport security but in the end I'm glad I did. I had also been afraid I'd end up hating the book or finding it not worth finishing and therefore having this huge block to tote around but it helped me pass the time on the flight that had no free in-flight entertainment. A perfect pick for a long flight or if you are perhaps recovering from an injury and illness and need a long escapist read.

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review 2017-08-01 02:12
Rise of the Empire (The Riyria Revelations #3-4) (Audiobook)
Rise of Empire (The Riyria Revelations, #3-4) - Michael J. Sullivan,Tim Gerard Reynolds

Fantasy-lite at its most mediocre. 


My lord, that thing was long! Two books in one volume is just too much when the exposition is this dry. On top of that, whoever edited the audiobook decided that splitting chapters up into several smaller, shorter chapters was a good idea. Honestly, I think it just contributed to the feeling of "this is never going to end" that I started getting about halfway through. 


I like the characters, and the stars are mostly for them. Hadrian and Royce have good banter, and Arista, Amelia and Modina have some interesting conflicts and personal journeys to go through. Really, the women do have the better part of the story here. The problem I'm having with these is the execution. Characters speak the exposition in the most expositiony way possible. Instead of aiming for subtext and intrigue, the characters continue to spew every thought to their enemies because of course that's the smart thing to do. There are no twists or attempts to subvert tropes. There is an attempt at a cliffhanger at the end of this one, but let's face it - everything will be fine, so I'm not worried.


I'm rewatching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer right now and recently got through the season two episode "Lie to Me." At the end, Buffy asks Giles if life ever gets easier and tells Giles to lie to her. He answers:


"Yes. It's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and... everybody lives happily ever after."


Sullivan seems to be writing his stories with this sentiment in mind, only he forgot the part about it being a lie (with one or two minor exceptions). This is very "what you see is what you get" and maybe it's just the wrong series to be trying to read alongside A Song of Ice and Fire and Young Wizards.


Since I did like the first of the prequels, I think I'll go back to those and see if that was one-time fluke or if Sullivan just got better with time. I'll have to debate with myself if I want to bother finishing this original series though. It's just not holding my attention - though that's no fault of the narrator, whose doing the best he can with the material he's been giving and he's probably the only reason the story even has some semblance of life to it. 

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review 2016-12-07 17:59
Percepliquis by Michael J. Sullivan - My Thoughts
Percepliquis - Michael J. Sullivan

This was a most satisfying end to a really good series.  Some things I had suspected came to be true and others that I suspected did not, which is the way I like things.  :)


Thinking back, it seems a long, winding journey from the first book to this one, but I loved the characters so much that it really didn't bother me one bit.  I do like well-written epics with great characters.  


And we really did come full circle more than many epics do. - I have to wonder if that's because Sullivan waited until all the books were written before publishing it?  That might make it easier to tie up all the loose ends.  


Royce remains my favorite character of all and boy, oh boy, does he run the gamut of emotions in this book and indeed, throughout the whole series.  And Myron.. my goodness, he comes into his own in this book.  In my mind's eye, he's Dr. Reid from Criminal Minds.  *LOL*  


I'm in one of those places where I couldn't give a good review of this book and the whole series if you paid me!  *LOL* I can just say that I really, really enjoyed it.  The ending was most satisfying and there is definitely a part of me that's sad to see it end.  :)  


The first book of the series was also the book that rekindled my Big Love for the fantasy genre which had been quiet for a few years.  





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review 2016-12-07 17:05
Wintertide by Michael J. Sullivan - My Thoughts
Wintertide - Michael J. Sullivan

More questions, more answers. :) But never as many of the latter as there are of the former. In this, the 5th (or 1st half of the 3rd) of the Riyria Revelations, you can almost feel that things are working towards a climactic resolution.


We spend a lot of our time with Modina, the young empress and Hadrian, the warrior half of our core duo of Hadrian and Royce.  Their characters grow and expand and even as we learn about some of the others... Nimbus, Arista, Royce, Amelia, Breckton etc... and how they all fit into this epic journey.  


I enjoyed it so much that I dove right into the next book in the series right away, something I never do.  



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review 2016-11-18 15:05
Theft of Swords
Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations) - Michael J. Sullivan

Author: Michael J. Sullivan

Rating: 4.5 stars


Book Blurb: They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.
There's no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just unlikely heroes and classic adventure. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are running for their lives when they're framed for the murder of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it's too late.


I really, really enjoyed this compilation of the first two books in the Riyria Revelations series - The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. I think in the future I will review the books individually to keep things moving along.


What’s great about these books is Michael Sullivan does not try to reinvent the wheel. This is not genre bending fantasy, it’s just good fantasy - and that’s all I ask for. It reminded me of Star Wars in that in the beginning the story was simple. Someone killed the king, our two main characters have been framed for it. Now let’s follow them as they get themselves out of this mess. But wait – there at the end – seems there more to all this than meets the eye. I loved the last second twists that are offhandedly thrown in there but that you know contribute to the overall story arc. Each of these stories had one of those moments, making me smile.


Overall, I enjoyed these two stories – they were fun to read. Not to say Sullivan is afraid to take chances. People die. I did the classic, “Noooooooooo!” every time someone did. So yes, bad things happen. However, the camaraderie between Hadrian and Royce is enjoyable. These two have been friends a long time and it shows in their banter. I will definitely enjoy reading the prequel series explaining how they met. I’m eager to continue on with the story and have the two compilations on deck and ready to go.



Highly recommend.

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