Nyphron Rising is the third book in The Riyria Revelations by Michael J Sullivan and quite a departure in many ways from the previous two books, The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha, but in a good way. 🙂
Where The Crown Conspiracy was an excellent introduction to the series and Avempartha was the book that really got the ball rolling, putting the heroes in danger and setting up the conflicts that will probably see us through to the end of The Riyria Revelations, Nyphron Rising is a tale of adventure that is much more subtle and, in its own way, powerful than the first two novels.
One of the ways that Michael does this is by giving us deeper looks at Royce, Hadrian and Arista.
Sure, we’ve gotten to know them while submerged in the first two novels, but in Nyphron Rising Michael reveals even more about them – Royce has had a secret revealed to him that changes, on many levels, his relationship with his friend, Hadrian, and Royce is forced to take responsibility for the decisions he’s made, even though it might cost him Hadrian’s friendship. Seeing this side of Royce was great because it gave us a glimpse of the half-elf that we haven’t seen before – he’s a bit out of sorts, unsure of himself and doesn’t know which path to take, creating not only a conflict within himself that he needs to work through but also a conflict between him and Hadrian. I’m pretty sure that Michael has more evolution in store for Royce and it’ll be great to see him at the end of the series, evolving as he is.
Hadrian, on the other hand, has much to contend with; he is as unsure as Royce and and is struggling with his place in the scheme of things. Witnessing him battle through it all was a satisfying journey – the man you’ve come to know through two novels has changed, and much for the better.
Arista was more enjoyable than she’s been – witnessing her in various states that she would never have allowed herself to be caught in (not if she was still safely ensconced in Melengar) was led to some hilarious scenes, but Arista also shows herself to be stronger than even she suspected. Michael puts her through the ringer in Nyphron Rising and at the end, she’s in a place that she would probably have never chosen for herself but she rises to the challenge, as you would expect the friend of Royce and Hadrian to do.
The novel is populated with many other great characters, especially a group of cut-purses and thieves living in the city of Ratibor, a young man who fearlessly stands up to speak against the establishment, and the newly-crowned Empress, lost and alone after the events of Avempartha ; they, and many others, provide ample great glimpses at all the levels of society that permeate the kingdoms that make up Elan. One of the characters that almost stole the show for me was Amelia: she’s feisty, determined, and really steps up to the sudden change that’s thrust upon her life.
Plot-wise, the book is a somewhat slower read than The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha, but the pacing works very well – Michael layered the tale, making this a read rich in detail and drama. Sometimes I found myself thinking, “Okay, now they’re buggered!” only to have the situation really be revealed, and Michael stunned me with a revelation at the end that really sets up the fan and what’s going to be striking it in the rest of the series.
All things considered, Nyphron Rising is a hugely entertaining and subtly gripping novel – it’s a much deeper read than the previous books in the series and an excellent staging point for the next 3 novels. I’m looking forward to seeing how the conflict widens and just how everybody will get out of the trouble that is surely coming.
The Riyria Revelations is a series that can stand tall alongside any other Epic Fantasy series out there – all the action, intrigue and drama you’d expect and plenty of surprises!
8 / 10
To find out more about Michael and his work, check out his website here; you can also order the books at his site.
Also, here’s some great news! The excellent guys over at Podiobooks have finished their free, serialised recording of The Crown Conspiracy! 🙂 That’s right, it’s totally free! I’m downloading the whole thing before I start really listening but I’ve already treated myself to the first ten minutes and it’s awesome to listen to, so treat yourself, too. 🙂
Finally, a while ago I asked Michael and Robin if I could record a reading of the first chapter of The Emerald Storm – they both agreed. 🙂 I received plenty of help, including advice on the pace of my reading and pronunciation, and I think it turned out pretty damn cool – but not nearly as cool as the Podiobooks audiobook. 🙂 I don’t have a recording studio or the right equipment to do Michael’s work justice (plus I’ve got that strange South African accent, too), but it was fun and I’d do it again any time. Part 1 and Part 2 of Chapter One are in the Box.Net box on the blog’s sidebar – just look for the big blue box and click the links to listen. 🙂
Also, as a further taste of what you can expect in The Emerald Storm, check this out (the cover art for each novel, if you didn’t already know this, is done by Michael himself, and it’s kickass, right?):