The Outhouse: The Greatest Comic Book Website - For All Your Comics and Entertainment News, Reviews, and Other Insanity

Book Review: Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Reading Realms reviews the first volume of The Riyria Revelations: Theft of Swords from Michael J. Sullivan


Genre:  Fantasy

Rating: 4 1/2 stars


Cover Blurb:

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?



Review

Theft of Swords is really two books in one.  Michael J. Sullivan's The Riyria Revelations first came out as six separate books. The first novel was published from a small publisher, and when they had financial troubles Sullivan published books two through five himself. After building an audience, Orbit bought the six-part series to release in three editions.  This first edition contains The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. They can truly be read as two separate stand-alone stories if the reader wished to take a break between them, but with Sullivan's fast-paced writing style and the quality of these stories I can't imagine someone wanting to take a break.

Both stories are tied together, as the title suggests, with the theft of a sword in one way or another being a theme to both novels.  In the first, The Crown Conspiracy, stealing a sword is simply a catapult to launch the main characters into a deeper and more twisting tale that really focuses on stealing the crown of a king.  However, it doesn't get too bogged down in politics and reads more like an adventurous sword and sorcery tale than a political high fantasy.

The two main characters, Royce and Hadrian, are both well-crafted and well-handled.  They make a good team, playing off of each other both when interacting with other characters and the reader.  Sullivan doesn't skimp on the supporting cast either, as all of the characters that play a role in the story are interesting.  The point of view is usually held by the two thieves, but sometimes switches to the princess, Arista, of the kingdom central to the plot.  She remains a key supporting character; some migh say she is even another lead in the second book as well.

The second book, Avempartha, deals with the hunt for a monster terrorizing a small village and amusingly turns into the old "rescue the princess from the dragon tale" in a way.  Both of these stories can stand alone, but elements built in which deal with the politics of the world and the big players in it continue from the first book to the next.  Sullivan is building a bigger story on the whole, but still offers a complete one within each of these two books.

For readers interested in the fantasy elements of a novel, the magic is light but does play a role.  Magic throughout the land is now seen as witchcraft and most knowledge of it has been lost as the church has campaigned against it.  Royce and Hadrian play their part in releasing an ancient wizard and he plays a slightly larger role in book two than in one, but due to his condition he doesn't sling much magic around.  The focus is definitely on the swordplay, adventure and mystery.

Humans are the major race throughout the land, though elves, dwarves, goblins and more exist as part of this world.  The races have been driven apart by belief, time and war; and throughout most of the human regions elves are little more than slaves and dwarves few and far between.  The second book gives a reader more to the history of this world and a deeper look into the other races even though the story still sits as a mostly human tale.  Readers that like their fantasy magic-light and not overdone with Tolkienesque races should still enjoy Sullivan's work, even though those elements are still part of this saga.

Bottom Line:

Theft of Swords is, more than anything else, fun.  It's not overly dark and bloody, though death and battle is serious; it's more about the adventure these two rogues constantly find themselves mixed up in.  And though this might not be considered epic fantasy, pieces of what makes a story epic are there, slowly added to the puzzle as the series progresses.

Readers that enjoy fast-paced adventure stories and like books such as Brent Week's Night Angel trilogy or Rachel Aaron's Eli Moonpress saga will love Sullivan's work as well.  I'd recommend this story to really any fantasy fan and it has been one of my favorite reads so far this year.




This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Follow us:

Join with Reading Realms on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with the latest news about not only our column, but speculative fiction news in general. Or join the book forum here at the outhouse to take part in discussions and start your own.

Comments:

You don't have to be an Outhouse member to join the discussion, simply fill out the captcha and comment below...

The Outhouse is sponsored this week by Late Nite Draw. Recently featured on ComicsAlliances' Best Art Ever, he is a Chicago-based commissioned artist with a self-published Digital+Print one-shot coming out in October about the abominable snowman called ABOBAMANIMABBLE, and is also available for commissions. Check out some amazing art by clicking here or by clicking the banner at the top, and support the people who support The Outhouse.


Enjoy this article? Consider supporting The Outhouse, a fan-run site, on Patreon. Click here for more info.


Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:



Comment without an Outhouse Account using Facebook

We get it. You don't feel like signing up for an Outhouse account, even though it's FREE and EASY! That's okay. You can comment with your Facebook account below and we'll take care of adding it to the stream above. But you really should consider getting a full Outhouse account, which will allow you to quote posts, choose an avatar and sig, and comment on our forums too. If that sounds good to you, sign up for an Outhouse account by clicking here.

Note: while you are welcome to speak your mind freely on any topic, we do ask that you keep discussion civil between each other. Nasty personal attacks against other commenters is strongly discouraged. Thanks!
Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:

About the Author - Jeremy Shane


Jeremy was born in a small mountain village of a strange foreign land called Weystvurginea.  Banishment for liberal views saw him spend years wondering the east coast until he decided to bike to California.  When he saw how long a trip it was, he drove instead.  Now he's living it up in a low humidity climate, sometimes working on his photography and when not, he writes for us covering books (by way of his blog: Reading Realms), gaming, tv, movies, comics, conventions in the SoCal area, and creates a weekly webcomic: A Journey Through Skyrim.  If you look for him offline, start in the L.A. area; online start at: www.jeremyshane.info for his profile and all the social networks he's on... or just follow him on twitter, he seems to be on there a lot: @jeremyshane.

 


More articles from Jeremy Shane