Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rise of Empire~Michael J Sullivan | Review

Title: Rise of Empire (Riyria Revelations #2)
Author: Michael J Sullivan
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 756 Pages
Release: December 2011

This is the second volume in the Riyria Revelations and contains two novels that were originally published separately. I am going to give reviews here for each of those novels. 

Nyphron Rising
Michael J Sullivan is quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite authors and Nyphron Rising only made the climb easier. This is an excellent third book in the series. It's a little darker than the previous two novels, but that's to be expected after the events of Avempartha. I am going to try and avoid spoilers here, but there may be minor ones from the previous books. 

Let's talk about my favorite part first--the characters. Sullivan certainly knows how to write compelling characters. I grow more attached to them with every book I read. Royce is still my favorite, but all of the others deserve some love too. 

"The world was at war with him and nothing was sacred."

So, Royce and Hadrian. Their partnership is tested more heavily here than it has been in the previous installments. Their friendship is intact, for the most part, but what about Riyria? It was somewhat sad to read about their doubts, after loving them so much together, no matter how understandable some of those doubts were. This also made them more realistic though, since friendships are never only going to be the good times. If you want the good times you have to take the bad ones with them. 

We find out a lot more about both Royce and Hadrian, where they came from, some of what they've gone through. Neither of these guys have had it easy, that's for sure. We don't know everything, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next. I'm sure there are many more layers to their stories that we have yet to uncover. 

Arista really grew on me in this. I've always liked her well enough, but at the beginning of this installment she was really frustrating. Some of her actions were understandable, but she didn't seem to be learning from the mistakes she was identifying in herself. She developed so much through this phase of the story, however, and I am excited to see where she goes from here. And I hope we get to see more of Alric and Mauvin in the next one. 
"Time was a concern of the living, and if she knew anything, it was that she was dead."
I wasn't sure at first what to think of the additions of Modina and Amilia into the story, but I really grew to like these two. And a lot is happening around them, though we only pick up hints here and there. I'm not entirely sure where these two are headed in our story, but I look forward to seeing their story continued. 

Alright, let's touch on the plot and world that we're invested in here. This is another indication that Sullivan is a master storyteller in my book. The Crown Conspiracy was a fun adventure that, aside from the great characters and fun adventures, didn't seem to have a lot else happening. Then Avempartha deepened the worldbuilding, delving more deeply into the political and religious side of things, highlighting the unrest that has been building over time. And Nyphron Rising kicked all of this up another notch, bringing all of that unrest to a boil and dropping us in. Everything gets deeper, not just the characters. And it's all so interesting. I honestly just love how this builds. 

The ending leaves a lot of questions to be considered. There are new enemies that we have only heard about, new allies we have yet to meet, secrets still hidden. Now it's time to see what the next book can deliver. 

The Emerald Storm
"Ghosts did not get hungry, at least not for food."
There were points in this fourth installment in the Riyria Revelations that had me liking it less than the other books thus far. However, there were so many amazing character moments that I really can't say this is my least favorite of the series. I just love these characters so much. Particularly Royce, but I think I make that pretty clear on a regular basis. 

This novel picks up right where Nyphron Rising left off, without the time jumps that happen between the other books. And everything is amped up a notch as the New Empire fights to take control. 

Rocye and Hadrian find themselves aboard the Emerald Storm, sailing the seas as they try to determine the plans of a new adversary. A lot of the time on the ship felt a little off to me, lacking the usual shine of the rest of the stories, but as the journey progressed I found myself really drawn into this new adventure. We were given more glimpses into Royce and Hadrian's pasts, got to see these two play off each other again (which was something I missed for a portion of the previous novel), and there were some amazing moments with them as individuals that made me love them even more. These were subtle things, but they made the characters that much more real. 

There are a lot of characters introduced this time around that I'm really curious about. There are definitely a lot of questions broached here that I am looking forward to seeing answered.
"It's what you do with life that gives it worth."
As Royce and Hadrian are out at sea, we also follow Arista as she tries to find the Heir of Novron. Her character has probably grown on me the most out of all of them. She was rather frustrating through the first two books, but she has really grown and started to shine since then. Now she puts herself at risk to find the heir and save her kingdom from destruction at the hands of those she used to call friend. 

We also get to see more of Modina and Amilia. While I like these two, I still can't say that I really love their characters all that much. Modina breaks my heart and fascinates me, though, so that's something. And their story is important to the overall plot of the series. With how things ended, I really wonder what these two will be up to next. And Nimbus, the tutor/assistant, really has me intrigued. Who is he? 
"Life becomes more precious when you have less of it to spare."

This installment is definitely darker in tone than the previous installments and ends on a sad note. There are some deaths in here that really broke my heart and then the very end just pushed it over the edge. I don't know what Royce and Hadrian will do next and I'm worried about going into the last volume and finding out what happens to these two. I want them to be happy, they both deserve it. But these things rarely end up working out the way they should. 

I will be moving on to the final volume (books five and six) very soon. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves great characters and subtly built plots. The friendship between Royce and Hadrian is one of the best I've ever read.

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