Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: The Riyria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan - August 17, 2013

The Crown Tower
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Series:  The Riyria Chronicles 1
Publisher:  Orbit, August 6, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages
Price:  $16.00 (print)
ISBN: 9780316243711 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

Two men who hate each other. One impossible mission. A legend in the making.

Hadrian Blackwater, a warrior with nothing to fight for, is paired with Royce Melborn, a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Hired by an old wizard, they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm's most prized possessions. But it isn't gold or jewels that the wizard is after, and if he can just keep them from killing each other, they just might succeed.

The Rose and The Thorn
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Series:  The Riyria Chronicles 2
Publisher:  Orbit, September 17, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
Price:  $16.00  (print)
ISBN:  9780316243728 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

Two thieves want answers. Riyria is born.

For more than a year Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner Hadrian Blackwater from certain death. Unable to get her out of his mind, the two thieves return to Medford but receive a very different reception --- Gwen refuses to see them. The victim of abuse by a powerful noble, she suspects that Royce will ignore any danger in his desire for revenge. By turning the thieves away, Gwen hopes to once more protect them. What she doesn't realize is what the two are capable of --- but she's about to find out.

Melanie's Thoughts

I loved the Riyria Revelations and so I really excited when I saw that Michael J. Sullivan had written a prequel series The Riyria Chronicles including two books -  The Crown Tower and The Rose and the Thorn. What could be better than spending more time with two of my favourite characters Royce and Hadrian?

The Crown Tower is the story of how Royce and Hadrian got thrown together and their very first mission together to break into the Crown Tower. This mission is referred to in the Rise of the Empire from the Riyria Revelations series. Sullivan gives us the full back story of how the two met and carried out their first mission. Sullivan also uses this book as a way to tell Gwen's story. While Gwen plays a very important part in the Revelations series we don't really get to learn how and where she came from until The Crown Tower.  I don't want to give too much away but The Crown Tower rounds out Royce as a character and shows a side of his character that I was rather surprised about.

The Rose and The Thorn follows on from The Crown Tower a year later. Royce and Hadrian have made a name for themselves as thieves and have returned to Medford where they ended up, in Gwen's care at the end of The Crown Tower. Royce has become intrigued by Gwen and comes back to town to see her. The pair are a bit more than surprised that Gwen refuses to see them. Royce is on a mission to find out why and if anyone has hurt Gwen they are going to pay....probably with their life. Sullivan also introduces us to Reuben Hilfred who is the son of one of the guards at the castle. In meeting Reuben we also get to meet Alric and Arista, the prince and princess of Melengar who are key characters in the Revelations series. Fans will remember Reuben as Arista's bodyguard during the Riyria Revelations and he is given the chance to tell the story of how he ended up in this auspicious position.

I cannot say enough good things about Riyria Chronicles or get enough of Royce and Hadrian. I don't think Sullivan's wife can either. According to the author's note Sullivan was convinced to write more about these two characters because his wife fancied Hadrian.  Sorry fellas but Michael J. Sullivan wins the 'nicest husband 2013 award' for writing two whole books just because his wife likes one of his characters.  Now that is motivation to tell an engaging story. There is enough new information to make these an interesting read for someone who has already read the Revelations series and a fantastic introduction for newcomers to the series. I enjoyed reading these two books so much that I have decided to go back and read the Revelations series.

Sullivan has a great capacity for story telling. He has created a richly detailed world as the stage for his story. He has written two characters who almost seem to come alive and leap off the page. These two stories not only give diehard fans another chance to spend time with the pair but also gives us an insight on why they made the choices they do in the next series.  I like to compare both the Riyria Chronicles and the Revelations to going to dinner at a great restaurant where Sullivan is the master chef (hang in will make sense in a minute). The Riyria Chronicles are the starter. The Crown Tower and The Rose and The Thorn set the stage for the main course by teasing our literary taste buds, preparing us for the sumptuous main course that is sure to follow. Following the starter is the rich, detailed and well balanced main course in the form of Theft of Swords and  Rise of Empire. The characters we have grown to love are fleshed out further in a world of intrigue and subterfuge encased in religion and folklore. Finally, for dessert is Heir of Novron to finish off our literary meal. The literary dessert is bitter sweet like a rich, dark, chocolate cake which leaves the reader fulfilled, satisfied and maybe a tiny bit sad it is all over.

The Crown Tower and The Rose and The Thorn are a great way to start this series. We get to see how our favourite heroes come together and how the plot from Revelations starts to unfold. As much as I love these books and both series I hope this where Sullivan decides to leave the rest to our imaginations. Like a rich and delicious meal there can be too much of a good thing and I wouldn't want Sullivan to dilute the power of both of these series by writing anything else on this pair. If you haven't had a chance to enjoy this series I urge you to start at the beginning with The Crown Tower. Its only a few more weeks until The Rose and The Thorn is released and after reading that you can jump right into the books of the Riyria Revelations.


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