THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.
There’s no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just unlikely heroes and classic adventure. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are two enterprising rogues who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the murder of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it’s too late.
I regretted not picking up this series earlier. A classic sword and sorcery fantasy will never go wrong!
We follow the story of the dynamic duo: Hadrian Blackwater (a former elite warrior/swordsman) and Royce Melborn (an assassin), both with interesting and intriguing pasts, both made up the infamous “Riyria” which was frequently sought after by almost everyone in the kingdom for impossible missions / jobs. While they were in a job of stealing a sword, they were framed and accused of assassinating the king. Flowing therefrom, they were caught up in a major plot by the church to overthrow the empire.
While the book is huge, it is really a fast and easy read. The plot is fast paced and intriguing. Michael J Sullivan’s writing style is simple and engaging which makes the world building rather effective. I personally think that Hadrian and Royce is the best duo characters ever created. I can feel friendship, loyalty, brotherhood and family when reading their interactions. Of course there are a few side characters whom I think were interesting as well: Myron, the monk who seems to have a perfect memory; Arista, the princess of the kingdom with some knowledge of sorcery; Mauvin, the eldest son of Count Pickering (the best swordsman in the kingdom).
However, there are some flaws in this story. I personally think that the sword fighting scenes were not as well done as John Gwynne’s the Faithful and Fallen series (I know its unfair to compare both writer’s writing style but John Gwynne’s ability in describing sword fighting scenes is so impactful and I cant’ get it out of my mind!). I also really cant feel the relationship between Thrace Wood and her father, Theron Wood even though Michael spent a whole lot of pages describing the complex father and daughter relationship.
Nevertheless, while there are a lot of classic fantasy tropes in this story, Michael managed to put his own spin and creativity in it. A strong 4/5 stars rating from me!