Review: Nolyn (The Rise and Fall #1) by Michael J Sullivan

Rating: 9.0/10


After more than five hundred years of exile, the heir to the empyre is wary about his sudden reassignment to active duty on the Goblin War’s front lines. His assignment to rescue an outpost leads to a dead-end canyon deep inside enemy territory, and his suspicion turns to dread when he discovers the stronghold does not exist. But whoever went to the trouble of planning his death to look like a casualty of war did not know he would be assigned to the Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron. In the depths of an unforgiving jungle, a legend is about to be born, and the world of Elan will never be the same.

From Michael J. Sullivan, the New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestselling author, a new adventure begins with the first book in The Rise and Fall trilogy. Although this series is set in the same world as the Riyria novels and the Legends of the First Empire books, it is a standalone tale. As such, no prior knowledge of the other works is required to enjoy this tale to its fullest.


“He could love them as he loved life itself because they were life–an existence lived as it ought to be: swift and brilliant, careless and courageous. They were shooting stars, sparks from a campfire, a first touch, and a final kiss. Fleeting moments of beauty made all the more wondrous by their brief nature.”

Nolyn comes out August 3rd, 2021. Preorder at any of the links above! If you end up loving this book, follow Michael J Sullivan on Twitter so you can be informed when he does his Kickstarter for each book so you too can get the next book early! If you have any questions about that let me know and I would be happy to help!

A question I get asked a lot is where to start reading in this Universe. The simple answer is that you can start anywhere. Michael J Sullivan has said that he writes his series so that they stand wholly on their own. However, I would also say to get the full experience, easter eggs and all, read each series in publication order starting with Riyria Revelations (Omnibus Trilogy), then Legends of the First Empire (6 books), and then The Rise and Fall trilogy, of which Nolyn is the first book. However, as I said above, ultimately you can read any of the series at any time and enjoy each very much. Welcome to the world of Elan!

Every time I return to this world it feels like a breath of fresh air. Sullivan writes in such a way that every time I read a novel in this world it feels like coming home. I am suddenly transported to the depths of the Erbon Forest. I am a traveler amidst the hustle and bustle of Percepliquis. I am a crewman on a ship sailing the Bern River. I honestly don’t know what Sullivan does to make his worlds come alive so, but come alive they do.

In Nolyn, we have two main POV characters and then 2 POVs that come up more than once, but not as often. The only reason that this book did not get a perfect score from me is that one of the main POVs did not have me as engaged and invested for about the first 50% of the book. It had nothing to do with the character. Sephryn is a conflicted, caring, and fierce character who will stop at nothing to protect her son. However, I felt like there just wasn’t much happening in the first half of the book in her POV so at times I felt myself longing for another POV to come up soon while reading her chapters. However, in the second half I found myself riveted to the page having to know what was going to happen.

“What good is it to breathe if I don’t live? What value is there in loyalty if it blocks every path? What will I do now?

The other main POV was the titular character Nolyn. Nolyn is the half elf, half human son of the Emperor Nyphron. We start following him in the depths of a jungle filled with the enemy Ghazel and his chapters are pretty action packed from there. I think my favorite thing about Nolyn’s chapters were the bonds that he shared with the men of the Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron. Known throughout the empire as the best of the best, the “Seventh Sik-Aux” are a band of brothers. They look out for one another and when things go from bad to worse, they are utterly loyal to each other. I loved seeing the respect and admiration grow between the men of the Squadron and Nolyn, their commander. Their bonds and banter was probably my favorite part of the entire story.

The other two POVs were both very good. Arvis’ POV was very compelling and included a really cool twist near the end that I didn’t see coming. The other POV was the main antagonist, but I don’t want to name them because of spoilers from Legends of the First Empire. Suffice it to say it was really fascinating to see how far this character has come from that series power-wise, while still having the same selfish and arrogant motivations that were motivating them then.

Sullivan as always wrote some really high octane fight scenes, somehow infusing high stakes while still making them a ton of fun to read. There were quite a few action sequences in this one and I enjoyed all of them.

This was another really good book in the world of Elan, as well as an excellent start to what promises to be an exciting series. Nolyn is a gradual buildup to an explosive ending with big reveals and plenty of twists that blew my mind and left me wanting more! I think both veteran and new readers will really enjoy this opening entry to The Rise and Fall trilogy. I can’t wait for Farilane!

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