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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review: Rise of Empire (Riyria Revelations) by Michael J. Sullivan

This is a wonderfully full, swashbuckling action adventure of good individuals fighting corrupt government. Think of Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings adventures. Don't be intimidated by the size of the book as it is really two books in one volume.
by Michael J. Sullivan

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (December 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316187704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316187701
Also available in Kindle and other ebook formats.
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: 5.0 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: December 14, 2011
Series: Riyria Revelations (Book 2)
Royce and Hadrian have been called upon to aid the struggling kingdom of Melengar as it alone stands in defiance against the newly formed empire. As war approaches a desperate gamble behind enemy lines is their only chance at forming an alliance with the Nationalists to the south.

But Royce has plans of his own and uses this opportunity to discover if an ancient wizard is using Riyria as pawns in his own bid for power. To find the truth, Royce must unravel Hadrian's hidden past. What he discovers will lead them to the end of the known world on a journey rife with treachery and intrigue.

And so continues the second tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

When author Michael J. Sullivan self-published the first books of his Riyria Revelations, they rapidly became ebook bestsellers. Now, Orbit is pleased to present the complete series for the first time in bookstores everywhere.

Theft of Swords (The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha)
Rise of Empire (Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm)
Heir of Novron (Wintertide & Percepliquis)

This volume picks up a half a year after the ending of Theft of Swords.  The Imperialist empire, controlled by corrupt church leaders, is trying to train the young farmer’s daughter, Thrace, who has been made Empress Modina.  The sad girl is living like a beggar prisoner, shut away inside herself as if in a trance, refusing to eat or recognize anyone around her.  By unexpected fate a scullery maid, Amilia, is assigned as the new Imperial Secretary and she is slowly able to make progress with Modina. Modina shrewdly uses those around her to hide the fact that she has become aware of her circumstances and isn’t happy being an Imperial pawn.  She has the power to bring down all of the evil Regent Saulder’s plans if she isn't discovered.

Royce and Hadrian, the thieves and heroes from volume one, have become official employees of the king of Melengar, one of the last kingdoms to stand against the Imperial Empire.  The King’s sister, Arista, joins forces with Royce and Hadrian to find the true heir in the effort to defeat the Imperial foes. There are betrayals of supposed friends and eventually the team is divided. Royce and Hadrian infiltrate a ship to discover secrets of their enemy, Merrick Marius, another spy/thief who has sold his services to the Empire. The daring duo pose as sailors gaining friends and enemies. A handful of sailors escape an attack from aliens who are more frightening than pirates.  They manage to get to land and there they face more perils including fighting their way out in an arena battle against larger, faster, carnivorous monsters.

Along their adventures they discover a plot to bring down the kingdom in the south with whom they were hoping to form an alliance. They are unable to convince the leaders of the threat so they try to sneak in to prevent part of the attack. Instead they walk into a trap and once again discover betrayal, treachery, unexpected foes and unexpected friends.

Meanwhile, Arista has shown herself as a much stronger person than merely a pampered princess. She infiltrates the Imperial strong hold as a maid. She is able to meet up with Modina who helps her on her quest. Arista’s magical powers are growing but they may easily get her arrested and executed as a witch.

I loved the non-stop adventure and intrigue. I like the friendships developed among the characters as they travel and plan together. Mr. Sullivan has woven a thoroughly engaging adventure. I sense the despair, fear, and small joys of the characters and I am cheering on the heroes!  This book does recap what happened in Volume One but I think you will miss a lot if you don’t read the first books. I am totally engrossed in the story and am anxious to read the next volume of two books.
Royce tries to understand Hadrian's discontented struggles wanting to be more than a mercenary.
Royce defined right and wrong by the moment. Right was what was best for him--wrong was everything else. He stole, lied, and even killed when necessary. This was his craft and he was good at it. Location 351
The Imperialists try to justify their lies in hiding and imprisoning the true heir as "the protectorate of the faith..."
"We don't want to wallow in superstition like ignorant peasants. ... The truth is a powerful thing....The truth must be kept safe, reserved only for those capable of handling it." Location 4249-4252.
Thank you to Orbit division of Hachette for allowing me to review this through NetGalley.
I will be adding this to my ARC Challenge list.

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