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Review: The Riyria Revelations – Book 4: The Emerald Storm by Michael J Sullivan

Four books in and The Riyria Revelations can definitely be counted among the best Fantasy series out there. 🙂

From book 1, The Crown Conspiracy, Michael has been methodically built his world and revealed his characters, and everything starts to come nicely together in The Emerald Storm.

The book opens with an event I never expected to happen, which sends shock waves through the rest of the book (and, I’m sure, the two books to come, Wintertide and Percepliquis), and also sets the tone for the book. The Emerald Storm is an altogether darker and more intense novel than the other books in the series – our characters go though much more than they’ve previously been subjected to, which not only heightens the tension of the book but also reveals more about the characters themselves.

Royce and Hadrian really go on an adventure in this book – they go through everything from working on a ship to plunging through a dangerous jungle to having to stop the complete and utter destruction of an entire city, and in this book we catch glimpses of a Royce that can make mistakes and can be hurt, and we also find out a bit more about Hadrian’s past; the characters gain much more, for and about themselves, in this book. Arista, too, does a lot of growing, learning to settle herself even more comfortably in her skin even as she has to deal with not having Royce and Hadrian around to save or protect her, and the Empress begins to realize that she lives in a world where taking part is the only way to survive; I won’t be surprised if Modina becomes one of the strongest and most memorable characters of The Riyria Revelations.

Michael also takes us to parts of his world that have previously only been mentioned, and manages to not only not bog down the narrative with descriptions and info-dumps, but keeps the pace of the story up, too, as well as giving us deeper glimpses into his characters and hints as to the direction the remaining books might take. The first chapter is not the only chapter that surprises and stuns – every arc throughout the book begins as a mystery and them steams ahead to the conclusion – a cliffhanger of such proportions that I’ve had to restrain myself from diving into Wintertide immediately (have got a couple of books I need to finish first!) .

The kind of story telling we’re used to from Michael and the quality of his writing doesn’t falter – but it is clear from The Emerald Storm that Michael was really flexing his muscles, and it shows; a bigger story, bigger thrills, and bigger consequences for the characters to deal with. It’s another excellent book that continues to reveal the world that Michael has been building since The Crown Conspiracy and also continues to evolve the great cast of characters. I’ve said it many times already, but if you haven’t yet started reading The Riyria Revelations, you’re definitely missing out! Michael proves that you don’t need overly convoluted plots, persistent magic, and battles to write Fantasy. 🙂

The Emerald Storm not only is a great addition to the series, upping the tension considerably and taking the characters in new, interesting and it-makes-sense directions, but it’s also a the book that begins to moves us toward the ultimate climax of The Riyria Revelations, which I’m really excited about!

9 / 10

To find out more about Michael and The Riyria Revelations, check out Michael’s website here; to order your copies, click here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK, or check out this page on Michael’s site to order the previous books in the series. 🙂

 

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Catching up with The Riyria Revelations

Hey Guys and Girls, I thought it was passed time to give you an update of what’s been happening with Michael, Robin and the Riyria series. 🙂 Robin sent out an update on Goodreads a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d spread the word:

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#1 – Sales of Wintertide have been GREAT with matching reviews to match. We are “almost done” and it looks like the series will end with a bang. Since the release of book #4 Michael has been averaging about 1,000 books a month – not too shabby for a new author from a small publisher…but since Wintertide the sales were 2,500 (october), 7,500 (November), and 10,500 (December) !! Thanks so much for all the support.

#2 Percepliquis editing is coming along very nicely. We’ve done several rounds of edits (most of the major edges are filed off) and we are just tweaking wording at this point – so that is going along nicely.

#3 There is a Fantasy Book Club Series which reads a whold series end to end. The last one was Janny Wurtz (a great writer and nice person btw) and now they are picking a new series – The Riyria Revelations was nominated!! Yeah ! – so please go out and vote as I’m sure it will do a lot to introduce some new people to the series as a whole. Here is a link

#4 – Just a reminder. Avempartha was picked for the January read by Fantasy Book Critic – Stop on by and chat with others and ask some questions of Michael – he’ll be there all month long. You can join in the discussion here

#5 The Emerald Storm was nominated in the 2010 goodreads Choice Awared for Fantasy – I’m still boggled by this – considering the HUGE names he was up against. I have no illusions of winning- Sanderson will walk away with I predict – but for those that voted – thanks and I just wanted to say that this is truly a case where it is an honor just to be nominated. If you are curious to see the other 15 nominess you can here

#6 Speaking of Honors…Iceberg Ink (a great fantasy review site by the wasy voted The Crown Conspiracy the Best Read of 2010! Well technically he called it a tie with Suzzane Collin’s Hunger Games – but in his review he said it beat that book so I’m calling it a “win” for the home team. If you’ve not read his reviews you might want to check them out. Here is a link to that page.

#7 Another big honor was that The Emerald Storm and Wintertide both made Fantasy Book Critic’s Top 25 Novels of 2010 list. Again if you want to see the full list here is a link

#8 A contact we have “in the business” pitched Michael’s book for a movie deal to the owner/founder of the production company that put out “The Mummy Series” and a whole host of other movies. They passed but said they might revisit depending on sales. I’m still pretty impressed it got in front of someone at “that level”. The person “shopping it around” is still on the hunt.

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Pretty damn cool news all round, eh? I was especially intrigued with the news about the book (presumably The Crown Conspiracy) being shopped around movie-wise! It would definitely make a pretty damned cool movie! And here I have to admit that I let Robin know who I thought would be cool for the roles of Royce and Hadrian – in my defence, I was a bit drunk at the time (I told Robin I’d had a long day), and even though they aren’t the best choices by a long shot I thought it was pretty damned funny. 😉

Hadrian – Bruce Willis

Royce – Steve Buscemi

See, I told you, hilarious choices! 😀

Anyway, forgetting about that, erm, Michael shared some awesome news and posted these:

I don’t think I need to tell you how awesome this news is – for an independently published author to get foreign rights for his work is HUGE! 🙂 Michael and Robin both are showing the publishing world what can be done and not needing the big marketing spends and having the big print runs that the established houses have. Massive congrats to them! And bloody well deserved! 😀

I’m also very pleased that the Czech publishers have decided to keep the cover art – Michael creates the cover art himself and it’s a real compliment that the covers are being kept, albeit slightly modified (which I also like – gives me the feeling of looking through a keyhole at the world that Michael created). 🙂 Also, replicating the designs that are unique to each book is pretty damn cool, definitely adds to the Czech-branding of the series. 🙂

I’ll have my (long awaited) review of The Emerald Storm coming in some time next week, and then I’m going to get started on Wintertide (yes, Robin, send it through already!! 😉 ).

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Announcements

 

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Review: The Riyria Revelations Book 3 – Nyphron Rising by Michael J Sullivan

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?):

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2010 in Audio Excerpts, Reviews

 

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