Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

by Michael J. Sullivan
Release Date: November 23rd, 2011
2011 Orbit
Ebook Edition; 497 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-316-18774-9
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

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? 

Theft of Swords (The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha) 

My Thoughts
Theft of Swords contains the first two novels in Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria Chronices, The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha, and I enjoyed them tremendously.  They remind me of my earlier reading days when I was captivated by the sword and sorcery genre and couldn't devour fantasy novels fast enough.  What I especially liked about these novels is that even though they contain many of the cliched concepts of a typical sword and sorcery fantasy novel, the author has managed through deft writing skills to make his characters and the story come alive and you stop paying attention to the cliches very early on and become absorbed by the story.  It was also clean so parents looking for interesting fantasy can rest assured if their children take an interest in this series (my 11-year old has begun reading it and is already absorbed by the story).

I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two main characters, Royce and Hadrian.  The reader enters the first novel with little background information on either main character and it's only through subtle hints and innuendos that you pick up clues about anything either of them may have done before this time period.  Some of the information was rather cleverly done and I found myself manipulated at times into believing a certain thing when rather the opposite happened; it is something I am paying attention as I read the second omnibus so I can come to my own conclusions.  Royce and Hadrian have a rather unique relationship and I loved the brotherly teasing that went on between them, even in the midst of serious situations.  It lent an air of lightheartedness to this series that is sometimes lacking in the more current fantasy series.  Many of the other characters were typical of this genre in that you have the prince and princess who find themselves fleeing for their lives, having to fight off council members who would like nothing better than to murder the heirs.  What I did enjoy was having a villain/antagonist who was rather clever and who managed to manipulate everyone around them and continues to do so, with nobody the wiser.  I would like to see a bit more character development in Arista, the princess, as I feel there is a lot of untapped potential in her character.  Her whininess did get on my nerves at times in the second half of the omnibus and I could have just shaken her and told her to grow up.  I am looking forward to learning more about Thrace as she was one of the more interesting characters to pop up in the second half.  Hopefully her character will continue to develop. 

I think the only issue I had with the novel was probably with the world-building/setting.  There were some political issues which were somewhat unclear; I wasn't exactly sure why there were so many problems between all of the different factions and I would have liked more of an explanation as to the situation with the elves and the dwarves.  All of the discussions over the Imperialists and the Nationalists were done as if the reader had a working knowledge as to what was going on and I had to re-read several sections as I thought I missed something important.  It did become somewhat clearer as I read, but I really had to pay attention to all of the nuances and the conversations.

Theft of Swords was a fascinating world that had enough action, intrigue, suspense, mystery, and even some romance to satisfy me.  I enjoyed the hilarious and fun interactions between the two main characters and truly, it was nice to sit down and read a fantasy novel that was just plain old fun.  The omnibus does a particularly fine job introducing some interesting characters and grabs the reader's attention so that you just want to read the next omnibus in the series, Rise of Empire


  1. Good review!

    It's not usually the sort of genre I'd tend to go for....

    1. Sometimes it's refreshing to read a sword and sorcery novel that's somewhat simpler in nature but still extremely satisfying, with twists and turns and secrets, but not so convoluted that you need to refer to a complicated list in order to keep everything straight. I thoroughly enjoyed it.