Series Review: Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan

The Books

Riyria Revelations is a series made up of six books or three volumes, where each volume consists of two books. I really enjoyed the series as a whole, and while I believe it started pretty strong, Michael J. Sullivan is one of those authors you can see grow over the course of his work. By that I mean, Theft of Swords was a very good start but by the time Heir of Novron had come round Michael’s writing and storytelling had improved dramatically.

While each of the stories are quite good in their own right, they should really be read one after the other, because Riyria Revelations is a good example of one big story being told over a number of books, and is best read as such.

The volumes, as they are normally sold now, are Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron.

Theft of Swords

As you can probably guess by the name, this book involves swords being stolen. The two thieves of Riyria, Hadrian and Royce, are hired to steal a sword from the royal palace and accidentally end up framing themselves for the regicide… whoops… They then kidnap the crown prince and heir to the throne, and thus begins their journey to find the actual murderer, and spare the prince his father’s fate.

Royce and Hadrian and their partnership is really what steals the show throughout this book. They are by far the strongest characters, and it’s really cool to read about them. I was less fond of the other main character, Arista; at this point in time, as she didn’t feel very fleshed out compared to the other characters.

Rise of Empire

Rise of Empire is where the overarching plot of the series starts to make sense. Events from Theft of Swords really start making sense and you start getting the feeling that there’s a serious underlying plot and not just a series of different stories stuck together into a series.

Character-wise, Michael improved on his previous development of characters, and bits and pieces of Royce and Hadrian’s backstories start to appear. Debatably Hadrian’s is very tropey, as the mysterious strong warrior type with a mysterious past, but I really enjoyed his story. Royce is still very mysterious. Arista became a much better character over the course of this book too. Her development became one of my favourite things about Rise of Empire, and she rapidly started climbing up my list of favourite characters in the series.

Heir of Novron

This book and the conclusion of the series was nothing short of amazing. Michael takes bits and pieces from each of the previous books and pulls them together to create an epic finale. Side characters from the previous books are dragged in and everything starts to fit together very well.

Heir of Novron is the strongest part of an already very strong series. Little pieces of world building from the earlier books reappear and suddenly make so much more sense. I really enjoyed this book. The plot reveals itself to be much deeper and more complex than it originally appeared and does a good job of throwing red herrings and plot twists at the reader.

Somehow in all of this, I’ve forgotten to mention Myron. He’s a side character who first appears in Theft of Swords. His personality sometimes reminds you of a lost dog as he dutifully follows his friends round and is always kind and loving. He also has no idea what’s happening most of the time and really just wants to go and read. I feel you, Myron.

The Series

As a whole, Riyria Revelations is a great story. It uses a lot of the typical fantasy tropes, but it does them very well. In my opinion, it finishes in the perfect place without running on and leaving the reading when the series will actually finish. I do however want more stories about Royce and Hadrian and their time as thieves. Good thing Michael also has the Riyria Chronicles which detail their adventures pre-Revelations. I’m going to have to read those books soon.

3 comments

  1. I believe Sullivan improves his writing with each release. While these original six stories are great, The prequel books are even better. Most of them serve as ‘standalone’ adventures, except for the first two prequels — those are treated as a duology, and have a bit of a cliffhanger between them .They’re excellent.

    After reading those, you’ll likely want to dip your toes into the First Empire series that takes place a few thousands years beforehand, when elves ruled the land, and humans were just starting their industrial revolution. It tells the real story of Novron and what religious histories were true, and which were fabricated over time. It’s good to have the original Riyria series fresh in your mind as you reed this series, so you can pick up on all of the Easter eggs and see the differences in what the Riyria-era people believe, vs. what actually happened.

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