Series Review – Riyira Revelations, by Michael J. Sullivan @author_sullivan

Today I am writing a review of the Riyira Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan. I just finished the 3 book series (or 6 depending on when you became an MJS fan). There was just so much goodness I had to break my hiatus (apologies – life and all that) and write a review.

Riyria Trilogy

MJS is one of those success stories you rarely hear about in the world of writing. He started out “indie” (short for an independently published author). This is frowned on by the snooty publishing world for mostly bogus reasons, but after becoming quite successful on his own, he was picked up by Hachette (one of the big 6 publishing houses). They combined his six books into three and from what I understand, MJS maintains some rights to profit as an indie as well as the benefits of having a publishing house behind him and the royalties that can come along with that. He is one of the pioneers forging a new path for future writers in an internet world.

Enough background on the author though. What about the books?

First off. I’m jumping right to the ratings so I can get that off my chest:

5 stars for “Theft of Swords”.
5 stars for “Rise of Empire”.
5 stars for “Heir of Novron”.

Wow! Really? 5 stars for all three books? Yes. Okay, book 1 I teetered between 4 and 5, but ultimately ruled it was 5 worthy. Also, to the haters, I apologize ahead of time. I “read” these books via Audible audiobooks. If I spell something wrong, now you know why. Now that that’s over…

Royce and Hadrian are a couple of thieves and they stole my heart. Bastards! Our protagonists throughout the series are the very best of friends. They weren’t always that way. Actually, when they first met, Royce was inwardly cheering for Hadrian’s death. But that is understandable as Royce never had a friend. Seriously. The man is really hard to get along with. And he’s an elf… well, part elf – a very small part. No pointy ears, but he does have uncanny eyesight and can dance on a wire better than a spider. Although merely human, Hadrian is probably the best warrior on the face of the world. Together they make a good pair of scoundrels.

These books were not about elves and dwarves and humans – not really. We hardly even saw a real elf until the end of the last book. Part elves like Royce were mere shadows of their ancestors. Dwarves were little more than slaves to the human populace that dominated the known world and were driven close to extinction. No, the various races of the world were not what these books were about. Religion’s domination over an entire empire was a much more central theme than various races vying for survival and control of the lands.

Also, this book was not about magic. Magic was very real throughout the tales, but it wasn’t a tool the heroes could conjure up any time they were confronted with a challenge. For one reason, there were really only a couple people in the whole empire that could use it. For another, I could tell MJS really enjoyed his characters saving themselves versus being freed by the mysterious wizard in white. Acrobatics, charisma and ingenuity were all tools they used to save their own necks almost as much as their swords and daggers.

So, what were these stories about then? They were about adventure and friendship. Throughout all of their trials, failures, and successes, Royce and Hadrian were there for one another. Throughout their adventures, things did not always go smoothly. More often than not, their best laid plans got muddled by some third party, whether ill intended or not, and these two heroes always managed to set things right in the end, and always they did it together. Yes, I’d have to say this story was about friendship. And the adventure? Oh, there was a lot of adventure! MJS starts us off slowly with a simple crime turned wrong and throughout builds us up for the “heroes” to save the world, win the crown, and of course steal the princess’ heart.

I really can’t recommend these books enough. Go, buy, read, enjoy! And if you have a long car ride (and no time to read like me), I suggest Audible! The narration was simply excellent.

You can buy Book 1 here: http://www.amazon.com/Theft-Swords-Vol-Riyria-Revelations/dp/0316187747/
Book 2 here: http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Empire-Vol-Riyria-Revelations/dp/0316187704/
And Book 3 here: http://www.amazon.com/Heir-Novron-Vol-Riyria-Revelations/dp/0316187712/

And you can get started on Audible here: http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B007KSJKI8&qid=1373765620&sr=1-1

Book Review – Deadhouse Gates Book 2 of the #Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

I am glad I didn’t give up on this series after my initial wave of vile feelings toward Gardens of the Moon. Wow, what a book! I’m spent! I’ve now learned that I need a few lighter reads in-between Erikson’s works. Please note that I try my hardest to write “spoiler free” reviews. I love comments on my blog – feedback is truly why I write reviews in the first place. Please make sure you don’t post spoilers in your comments or I won’t approve them.


Deadhouse Gates read slower than most fantasy books that I’ve read, but I did not find this to be a bad thing. Instead of being bored, the author enthralled me with his imagery. Erikson’s rich vocabulary coupled with excellent sentence structure produced a work that borders on a poem. It took effort to see what lay beneath the paper and ink, but under that surface I found an entire ocean.

The multiple plot-lines within Deadhouse Gates were vast and it was hard to tell which (if any) were central to the tale. That is a compliment as each of the plots were essential and they all came together neatly at various points within the story. There were several scenes that were downright genius. The one that comes immediately to my mind was a certain “promotion”. If and when you read Deadhouse Gates, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

The characters within Deadhouse Gates were portrayed so much better than in Gardens of the Moon. There were a few characters I never got a good feel for and hence had no real interest in their sub-plot. However, most of the major characters had true depth. I learned in good detail their inner desires and internal conflicts through their outwardly acts and their inwardly introspections.

I started to understand Erikson’s world better as I read Deadhouse Gates. This was something that had completely eluded me in Gardens of the Moon. The world within Deadhouse Gates was a very scary place. I would not want to live in Malaz. Battle scenes were vivid and brutal. Tortured warriors, dying men, and corpses of women and children lined roads that criss-crossed the entire map. The flies that came to feast on their blood were relentless in their pursuits.

The ideas regarding “warrens” and how they exist were totally unique (for anything I’ve read at least). How everything in the world tied to various warrens, from magic and the gods to physical locations intrigued me. The magic systems within the world were mysterious too. Hints were made about how they worked, but like the rest of Erikson’s work, it seems it takes effort (and multiple volumes) to truly understand. The world building that took place to create the Malazan Empire and beyond was truly incredible and has resulted in a work of genius!

Overall I give Deadhouse Gates 5 out of 5 stars. Much better than Gardens of the Moon at 2!

You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Gardens-Moon-Malazan-Book-Fallen/dp/0765322889