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Review: Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

>>Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Title: Theft of Swords
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Series: The Riyria Revelations #1-2
Format: ARC
Pages: 649
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publication Date: November 23rd, 2011
Publisher: Orbit
Rating: B-/C+

From Goodreads: Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles—until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires in order to keep a secret too terrible for the world to know?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

When author Michael J. Sullivan self-published the first books of his Riyria Revelations, they rapidly became ebook bestsellers. Now, Orbit is pleased to present the complete series for the first time in bookstores everywhere.

Why did I read this book? I always wanted to read this series. I actually own the first two novels in paperback form, from before they were being published by a major publisher.

Source: ARC from BEA 2011

My Review
Theft of Swords is aptly named; it is the first two tales of the Riyria Revelations and both center around the job of stealing swords. They follow two main protagonists, Hadrian, a kind-hearted soldier who can't be matched in combat, and Royce, the stealthy rogue who doesn't always share his partner's sentiments. In The Crown Conspiracy (book one), they are hired to steal a sword but are framed for a king's murder. In Avempartha they are again hired to steal a sword but must face a magical beast that threatens their lives.

The Crown Conspiracy
I really enjoyed this debut. It's highly action-packed and contained all the things I like in epic fantasy: politics, adventure and plenty of twists and turns. In fact, I couldn't believe Sullivan had me fooled on more than one occasion. Where the book faltered for me wasn't the plot, which was deftly crafted and paced, but the characters and the tendency towards info-dumping. There is really only one female character, the princess Arista and I felt while she was a decent character, I needed more representation from women. Also, with the other characters, I felt like I was always trying to connect to them, since there seemed to be many and therefore hard to connect to. My favorite was actually the prince, Alric; I felt he had a good story arc and growth through the story.

This was another enjoyable read for me. It's set a few years after The Crown Conspiracy and I was happy to see the story moving along. Unlike the first book, I thought Avempartha suffered from a slow start and it wasn't until halfway through did I really get interested in the plot. I noticed that when the plot involved the overreaching story of the series, it was more interesting to me than dealing with the episodic nature of the book's plot. Fortunately, another female character is introduced, but I found myself connecting more to Arista even so. She really grows in this book and I liked following her development.

Rating: B-/C+
I think I'm in the minority here where I say I thought The Crown Conspiracy (B-) was the most enjoyable for me. I really liked the even pacing, the action, and most of all, the mystery. Avempartha (C+) was good, but slower and ending on a big cliffhanger. One thing I can say is that while Sullivan uses common epic fantasy tropes (there's a wizard, a rogue, a princess, a fighter), he does know how to craft a story and keep you interested. I was able to overlook any misgivings I would normally have in favor of a good plot and addictive storytelling. There's an overall story arc to this series that gets touched on in each book as we go and I find I am really dying to see what happens. I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans, but be warned, it's not super unique, but it's going to grab you from the beginning and not let go.

1 comment:

  1. I was a little concerned about the lack of female characters in THE CROWN CONSPIRACY, too. Thankfully, Sullivan adds several more throughout the two books in RISE OF EMPIRE, and they have quite a bit to do with one anoher.



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