Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
Theft of Swords contains the first two books of the Riyria Revelations series by Michael J. Sullivan: The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. Both of them are about 300 pages long and you get two full stories for the price of one. I bought the book because I had heard so much praise and wanted to try them out myself. I have not been disappointed. Michael J. Sullivan does a very good job at writing two interesting stories with great characters that are easily digestible. It only took me a day each to read through them, which speaks about their fast pace and the ability to hold my interest over long patches of time.
The story of the Riyria Revelations revolves around a long broken empire and all the political groups vying for power in troubled times, each with their own agenda. Conflict is ensued and Riyria (Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn) are drawn into the center of the storm, though the two thieves aren’t exactly what you’d call selfless idealists.
The first book starts when Riyria is drawn into a conspiracy and framed for the murder of the king of Melengar. How they get out of this situation and the big plot this conspiration rests in are revealed little by little in a fast paced and action packed story. The story is easy to get into and one of its strengths is how compact it is written. You can read through both The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha very fast, because the plot is always moving forward without losing speed. The story of the books will hold you captive and the bigger plot adds mystery and an incentive to keep reading.
One of the book’s strengths is the small scale within a big scale. You have a limited cast and timeframe for each part and it is very easy to keep track of everything, which makes this book a good introduction to fantasy. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have a grand plot. The big plot is drawn out across the Riyria Revelations in such a way that you can effortlessly enjoy it.
Another strength are the characters. While the two protagonists are interesting characters on their own, I found some of the minor characters throughout the book very enjoyable too. They add a nice flair, like the monk that’s so enchanted by horses. Riyria makes for a wonderful pair too, though I can’t see them as the murderous pair they are sometimes described as. We read about theft and assassination and everyone is afraid of Royce, but I could never see them as dangerous for anyone except the bad guys. From the start, Riyria is very likeable and even though they might be reluctant, they are still undoubtedly the heros of the story. Choosing older and experienced protagonists that have an intriguing past (which gets revealed slowly, bit by bit) was a very good choice by Michael J. Sullivan. Their proficiency is much more believable because of their age and experience.
One problem I had was the introduction of a dwarf. While there is nothing wrong with the character, he’s the only one throughout at least the first two books. What I found strange was that no one, not even people in small and remote villages, find his sight exotic. It’s like they see dwarfs all day, but there are none except Magnus. So why don’t make people a bigger fuss about him?
I can recommend Theft of Swords because of its absorbing yet easy to read story and its great characters. The series is easy to get into but deep enough to hold your interest until the end. I’m glad I tried Theft of Swords out and I think you won’t regret doing the same.