Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations, Volume 1), Michael J. Sullivan
Michael J. Sullivan has quickly jumped from being totally off my radar to being one of my favorite writers.
Theft of Swords is part of a re-release series from earlier writings. This volume contains two earlier works, The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha.
Both center around Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater. The characters are professional thieves and mercenaries with mysterious pasts. Royce excels at being a thief while Hadrian is an excellent swordsman and carries three swords.
In the first story they are hired to retrieve a sword from a castle, but while doing the job they find a king’s corpse and realize they’ve been framed for the assassination. In the second they are summoned to a village by a magician they free in the first story. He’s a magician who was held in a prison for nearly a thousand years and whose hands were removed to make him less dangerous. The lack of hands has severely limited his ability to perform magic and he needs their special skills to help in destroying a monster that has been attacking the village.
Through the stories they befriend a princess and a young king, a village girl and her father, and various prostitutes. They also battle an evil dwarf and a flying monster and foil several evil plots. Royce and Hadrian are hilarious together and they both take on their tasks with humor and bravado. There’s lots of action, less bloody than, say, Game of Thrones but just as exciting. Sword scenes are described well and battles are vivid. Two books follow in this series, each with two stories. I’ll be grabbing Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron as soon as I can, mostly to get a Sullivan fix until the follow up to Age of Myth is released this summer.
The books are a fun mix of several genres, with a bit of fantasy, hero myth, and war saga brought together with bright dialogue. The books fly by almost too quickly. It’s been a long time since I read books I was sorry had to end.