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.
That is what the jacket text for the book ‘Theft of Swords’ said. Interesting, I thought. But like almost every person in the world with Internet access, I decided to check out the reviews on Amazon. And they’re good; 4.4 out of 5 average. The book was part of a series called ‘Riyriya Revelations’ by Michael J. Sullivan. I had never heard of the series, nor its author.
Taking a leap of faith a couple of days later, I got the book on my Kindle. Turned out to be one of my better decisions. Eventually I read ‘Rise of Empire’ and ‘Heir of Novron’ as well, the other two books in the trilogy.
This review is not for a single book, but for Riyriya Revelations as a series. Of course, no spoilers ahead; so don’t worry!
The books are tomes, as they should be, I believe, for a high fantasy series. At 704, 816, and 960 pages, they’re certainly not what you’d pick up for a weekend getaway, hoping to finish before you get back (they work well if your travel requires taking 10+ hour flights). Be prepared for a long, adventurous read. But wait, don’t dismiss them yet just because of the size!
If you’ve read (or seen) The Lord of The Rings, or A Song of Ice and Fire (‘Game of Thrones books’ for the uninitiated), you know what to expect in a high fantasy. But this series did surprise me – it is shockingly less descriptive compared to many other fantasy stories. Of course, the author ensures that the world building and description is sufficient to put the reader in the right environment. Action packed scenes compliment the dialogue-heavy ones (not too many of these), as we are taken across Apeladorn (the world), mainly around the nation of Avryn.
The best part of the series for me was the dialogue. It is surprisingly casual for a fantasy set in medieval-esque times.And it works well. The chemistry between Hadrian and Royce, the protagonists is really fun to observe. Two very different people, with unique skills, finding themselves in the middle of many adventures: it had been a while since I read something on those lines.
It’s not The Lord of The Rings, and comparing it, or any other fantasy to Tolkien’s masterpiece is not a fair assessment. What it is, however, is a fun, adventurous read. It’s like a scaled-down, ‘zoomed in’ high fantasy. And I say this when there are multiple nations, political parties, landscapes, ethnically diverse people, religions and wizards, amongst other things!
The lack of character depth for supporting characters can be observed occasionally, but that doesn’t get in the way of good – albeit a little predictable sometimes – storytelling.
Most high fantasies follow multiple major characters; this one focuses acutely on the protagonists, and it works. At least it worked for me. Hadrian and Royce are memorable characters and I’m definitely reading more stories involving the pair.
It’s certainly worth mentioning that Michael J. Sullivan is a self-published author. He’s certainly quite social and is active on twitter, reddit and Goodreads. He replies to questions and comments! A success story like his proves that if you are able to put out a good tale before people, they will read/listen. Check out his website: http://riyria.blogspot.com
The author has another series in the same world, called Riyriya Chronicles. This is a nice, spoiler-free list of how the author prefers the reader read his series in a chronological order.
Want a small taste of Apeladorn and its denizens? Check out this free short story by the author.
If you like fantasy, especially high fantasy, do give this a try. Of course, if you read it with Tolkien at the back of your mind, you’re likely to be disappointed. But the world the author has created is fun to read about. It has just the right amount of magic, great character chemistry, and is a well-painted canvas for a great adventure.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a look around the blog for other book reviews, tech stuff and a travelogue.