Review: Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire #3) by Michael J. Sullivan


Rating: 6.5/10

Synopsis

Rich in magic and adventure, Michael J. Sullivan’s soaring fantasy novels are masterworks of heroism, love, and sacrifice. Now, in Age of War, the epic battle between humankind and the cruel godlike beings who once ruled them finally ignites in all its fury.

The alliance of humans and renegade Fhrey is fragile—and about to be tested as never before. Persephone keeps the human clans from turning on one another through her iron will and a compassionate heart. The arrogant Fhrey are barely held in check by their leader, Nyphron, who seeks to advance his own nefarious agenda through a loveless marriage that will result in the betrayal of the person Persephone loves most: Raithe, the God Killer.

As the Fhrey overlords marshal their army and sorcerers to crush the rebellion, old loyalties will be challenged while fresh conspiracies will threaten to undo all that Persephone has accomplished. In the darkest hour, when hope is all but lost, new heroes will rise . . . but at what terrible cost? 

Review

Hello! I’m Jared and excited to be here on FanFiAddict! I know my first post is book 3 in a series, but thankfully the next book I’m reading is Oathbringer so I can’t wait to talk about that. (wait, that’s book 3 in a series too dang it)

Anyway, enjoy this rambling review of Age of War and the Legends of the First Empire series so far, and let me know what you think!

Age of War is the third book in the Legends of the First Empire series by Michael J Sullivan. The series takes place a few thousand years before the Ryria Revelations, the series which Sullivan is commonly known for. I really enjoy MJS’s books, but they always have something that doesn’t quite work with me and this book further cemented that feeling.

When I first read the Ryria Revelations a few years ago, I enjoyed them but nothing about them grabbed me. All the characters were great, and the plot had some good twists and turns but overall, I can’t say I really remember any of the specifics of the world or any of the major story developments.

So, while I had originally planned to read the Legends books directly after, I put them off. I think this did me an ultimate disservice when eventually reading these books. The ‘legends’ told in the story are directly tied to what we know in the future, but as I can’t remember much of this, I think I miss some of those fun details.

However, MJS is one heck of a salesman*. I don’t know any other author (except maybe Sanderson) who is as open about how all his books connect, where he is in the writing process and making sure that no reader is lost. All of this makes me want to support him as a writer, so on his winter sale I picked up the whole set of Legend books.

I read Age of Myth (book 1 in the series) in a matter of days. It began slow, but quickly picked up and had an enjoyable early stage fantasy with compelling characters. Nothing ground-breaking, but a fun read. (I have some mini reviews on Goodreads you can check out here and here.)

However, Age of Swords went a bit off the rails for me. The over reliance on modern words and phrasing, the convenience of everything being invented over a few days period and some story beats that fell flat, led to a less than favorable read. So, it was with a bit of hesitation that I progressed on.

All of which brings me to Age of War. The story picks up right where Age of Swords ended and continues to follow all the characters from the previous stories. It starts with the humans and Galantians preparing for War with the rest of the Fhrey. I won’t go into much of the plot details, for fear of spoliers, but it was an overall enjoyable tale.

However, in a book called Age of War, not much ‘war’ actually feels like it happens. There is a war on the large scale, but I never felt like it was happening on the scale I was supposed to think it was. There are some actions scenes, but none really grabbed me and I felt the action was better in Age of Myth. I think MJS shines better with smaller scale conflicts.

The first half of the book took me much longer to read than usually, but I read the second half in a day, which picked up considerably.

So why did I keep returning to the book despite these flaws? The characters. Let me tell you, not many times have I read a series populated with such real characters. I get shades of Robin Hobb which is the highest praise.

Every character I enjoyed reading about, although I wish that Persephone had a bit more screen time. Roan continues to be a personal favorite of mine and her development in this book is very well done. And as MJS does, there are a few gut-wrenching moments that definitely hit me in the feels. I just wish that these characters were accompanied by better writing and story that really grabbed me.

Overall, I like these characters enough to continue with the story in Age of Legend. Age of War has fairly conclusive ending, so I plan on taking a break with several other books before I continue.

Anyway, thanks for reading and let me know what you thought of this book!

* and the cover art!! THE COVER ART!! Amazing and is probably 70% of the reason I bought these books.

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