21 February, 2010

Review - The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan

I've never been one to put up a huge fight when it comes to peer pressure and this is no exception. The Crown Conspiracy (2008, 310 p.) [US] [UK] has been around the blog-o-sphere and back and for good reason.

This may not be the most alluring of analogies, but do you ever have an itch that can only be scratched by a certain type of novel. That's exactly what The Crown Conspiracy did for me.

Lately I've been in the mood for something traditional(ish), something fast-paced and easy to read and that is exactly what The Crown Conspiracy provides.

The Setup

I think the blurb on the back says it best:

There is no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to murder the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out...and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.
My Take in Brief

There is much to be said about a novel that reads well. I've mentioned this before on my own blog, but a book that keeps you reading ranks high for me. Not only is it entertaining, but you look forward to getting back into the book each and every time you pick it up, if you have the self-control to ever put it down.

Atypical of many current series, The Crown Conspiracy does not contain much in the way of grittiness, yet it remains inventive (see discussion by James Long and Sam Sykes here). For half the story, I was convinced that I knew who the actual killer was only to be rebuffed. The plot moved quickly and even though some traditional fantasy archetypes show up, it is not in the usual way; including a wizard who provides little in the way of guidance as well as elves that are despised.

This is not your typical epic as has already been mentioned especially when looking at the size of the novels and yet Sullivan is able to make the characters come alive. The relationship between Royce, the thief, and Hadrian, the brawn, is great fun and still provides great mystery. Who are these people and how do they have such talents?

In terms of world-building, there is not an enormous amount, but I thought it fit the story very well. The reader is filled in by characters mostly through dialogue while the plot continues to move forward.

When Should You Read This?

Sullivan's The Crown Conspiracy reminds me of why I got into fantasy in the first place. It's filled with great characters that are fun, with protagonists who stick up for the little guy and do the thing that must be done. Largely self-contained, if you're in the mood for a quick-paced story that has a twist to your traditional fantasy and resolves the main plot, this is for you.

My Rating

4.25/5 (more than loved it, why aren't you reading this right now?)

Origin of the Copy

I purchased this copy of my own free will. :)


Simcha said...

The Crown Conspiracy has been on my list of book to read for a while but I've become wary lately of books that garner high praise from everyone else, because I usually end up unimpressed by those books. I'll probably end up reading this one soon though, because it does sound good. Thanks for the review!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's nice to read about a fantasy book that doesn't revolve around an ancient evil that must be destroyed.

ediFanoB said...

I understand your reasons to read this book very well.

It is on my to buy list for a long time. I don't know why I always postponed the purchase.

Unfortunately the book is temporarily out of print. But I hope it will be available again in summer.

Bryce L. said...

@Simcha - Haha, that's true, you were the only one who was meh about The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. This one's short and fast paced - good for any time.

@Alex - Yeah, that was nice. No prophecy, no boy/girl of destiny, it was a nice take on old tropes.

@ediFanoB - I think the author still has it on his website: Here. He'll even sign and dedicate them for you with a discount. Although I don't know how it works for Europe. Sorry.

April (BooksandWine) said...

I've spoken a couple of times on goodreads with Sullivan's wife, Robin, she's ubercool, so yeah I've been dying to read this. Glad to see you enjoyed the Crown Conspiracy so much.

Fast paced books fricken rock!

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

I am glad to see you enjoyed the book. I have done some discussion books with friends and I wish I could have read this book with them. I have read all three out so far and would love to speculate with them on what everyone thinks will come about in the future books. I really enjoyed these reads as they were quick paced and had a touch of classic fantasy with it.

Susan Parker said...

The first printing of "The Crown Conspiracy" did indeed sell out but the second printing is completed and available.

http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780979621130/ $14.52

http://www.amazon.com/Crown-Conspiracy-Riyria-Revelations/dp/0979621135 $10.76

For those Overseas I suggest BookDespository which has free shipping anywhere to just about any country. For US - Amazon is offering a 17% discount.

If you want "first edition" copies you can purchase signed copies from the author for $10.20


Bryce L. said...

@April - Totally agree, fast-pacedness rates high for me. :)

@Melissa - I'm excited for the rest of the series. I have a Borders gift card and for some reason Borders doesn't have the next two. :(

@Susan - Thanks for stopping by and for the much needed info.

Krista said...

Oh man I have wanted to read these books for some time! I am really going to have to get my hands on this series! Thank you for the wonderful review :)

Susan Parker said...

Just thought I would drop by to mention that Michael's 2nd book "Avempartha" is in the BookSpot Central's Best of 2009 contest where they pit 64 books against one another. It made it to round 2 and is currently up against Finch.

If you want to vote here is the link:


Lillian said...

Pretty helpful info, much thanks for the article.