22 November, 2011

Review - Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations) by Michael J. Sullivan

Theft of Swords [US] [UK] [Kindle] is an omnibus of the first two books in the Riyria Reveleations, The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. It's also somewhat the story of an independently published author turned major publishing success as is nicely explained here by Iceberg Ink.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Theft of Swords is that it's "traditional" fantasy. It deals with good guys versus bad guys, questing, and there are even elves, dwarves, and a wise wizard.

But when I really think about it, "traditional" doesn't quite explain it, or really even get close.

Traditional, at least recently (I realize the irony), has come to mean Farmer boy becomes king or even a bloated and long-winded series that will never end.

In that sense, Theft of Swords is anything but "traditional." Even the elves aren't your typical elves, they're considered to be the lowest of the low, slaves even in some parts of this world called Elan. And then again, is it really good versus evil? We're dealing with a couple of thieves as the protagonists, each of whom has killed their fair share.

Then, there's the fact that this is fantasy without all the bloat. Sullivan fills you in as we go without getting bogged down in describing every last thing. The story moves forward and you can't help but get sucked into the narrative. And I haven't even begun to talk about the characters.

Royce and Hadrian. They're a mysterious duo who are much more than they seem and who make up the inexplicable group known as Riyria. The Crown Conspiracy begins with the duo steeling an incriminating letter back from the person they were paid to steel it for in the first place.

Of course, they're not always scoundrels and end up doing the right thing at least most of the time. Add to that their amusing banter and even mockery, they're really hard not to love.

Now that I've sung it's praises a bit, I'll break this omnibus down into the two stories that it contains, starting with a portion of my review (from almost 2 years ago) of The Crown Conspiracy:

The Crown Conspiracy

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. With twists and turns, you won't know who to believe. 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.


While I heartily enjoyed The Crown Conspiracy, Avempartha was even harder to put down. Here, we have an ancient monster, we find out more about our "heroes," and get a better grasp on the history of the elves and the world of Elan. The narrative starts to expand and we're let in on some BIG things that are yet to come.

The story is continued about a year after The Crown Conspiracy and Royce and Hadrian are called in to help a village that has been ravaged by a monster that has taken residence in the area.

At this same time, the church of Nyphron has been setting its own plan in motion, calling for a secret competition, of which no one even knows the location.

With all the mystery and suspense, there was not a point of view I wasn't dying to read, I'm not joking when I say I couldn't put it down. I did wish, however, that there was more told about the competition, as if we had an inside man competing, but it was understandable with where the author was taking us in the end.

Why Read Theft of Swords?

Theft of Swords is exactly what it purports to be. It's light-hearted fun and it will have you reading your eyes out. The characters, especially Hadrian and Royce, will have you coming back for more.

4 out of 5 Stars

Stay tuned for a guest post in the next week from the author himself.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


Ryan said...

I read The Crown Conspiracy about a year ago, and enjoyed it. I gotta carry on with this series, I feel like I only hear good things about it! The "Ancient Monster" bit is extremely intriguing!

Bryce L. said...

Yeah, Avempartha really gets the series going with a lot more myth and set up. The monster's pretty knarly. :) Reminded me a bit of the ones in The Last Wish by Andre Sapkowskiwowski.