“Rise of Empire” by Michael J Sullivan (Orbit, 2011)

Rise of Empire
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In Theft of Swords, Michael J. Sullivan introduced us to the unusual duo in Royce and Hadrian, giving readers some ideas of what fun and adventures they like to get up to in the first two volumes of The Riyria Revelations.  In this second collected installment, Rise of Empire, readers learn more about the world and the changes that are happening here, and where our two heroes are headed next.

In Nyphron Rising, things take a turn for the worse as war comes sweeping through to Melengar and its people have little hope and respect for their recent, young king.  Princess Arista has been running around playing diplomat and trying to secure allies for Melengar, with nothing to show for it.  Meanwhile the enemy Nyphron Empire continues to grow in strength and numbers.  Arista has one more trick up her sleeve, and with the help of her good friends, Royce and Hadrian, goes on this last journey far south in a last effort to secure an ally, but also to unravel a mystery of Hadrian’s past.  Surprising results are revealed about our unknown thief that ties into the whole story of the Riyria Revelations.  The wizard Esrahaddon continues to be up to no good, while we learn more of the enigmatic man known as Degan Gaunt.

Sullivan does a great job with Nyphron Rising, after setting necessary groundwork and story and setting with the first two books, he opens it up on an epic scale, traveling his invented world, and educating readers on how future events are going to affect everyone across Elan, and why the forgotten history is important.  Royce and Hadrian continue to be the entertaining and interesting characters that they are, while Arista opens up her emotional side.

In The Emerald Storm, Michael J. Sullivan does what every fantasy author should do with an epic series and an interesting and complex map: he takes his characters to new and interesting place.  The Emerald Storm is in a fact and mighty sea vessel that travels across the seas to new lands and places, where new and interesting people are met and the overall story of the Riyria Revelations is furthered along.

With the events of Nyphron Rising now at a close, the elusive duo, Royce and Hadrian aren’t sure what do to next.  Royce has plans to retire and relax, settle down with his lady love and enjoy the rest of his days, while Hadrian has dark shadows of his past and heritage to confront and accept, while deciding he is on a mission to find the lost heir of Novron.  It takes Royce all of three seconds and little convincing to decide that Hadrian won’t last long without him, and together the two set out, following the clues that lead them to the mighty trading vessel, the Emerald Storm.  They know nothing of seamanship and what to do aboard such a large vessel, but knowing one of the crewmen, they’re able to get added to the crew and begin the journey through the mysterious and interesting lands of Elan.  Naturally, there is lots of adventure on the high seas, not to mention some strange guests on the Emerald Storm, as well as the enigmatic cargo.  Meanwhile an important subplot is furthered along with the princess, who is bored with her station, looking to make her life more interesting, and gets some answers.

The Emerald Storm does everything a fourth book in a series does, furthering along some important story, learning more about some familiar characters, as well as introducing some new ones, and not to mention the addition of new lands and new peoples and cultures.  Fans of the series will enjoy the thrills of The Emerald Storm, with the fun Royce and Hadrian get up, looking forward to the final installment, Heir of Novron, due out in January 2012.

Originally written on December 12, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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