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Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan Review

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If you thought you will never cry for the series, you will in Age of Swords. A flood of tears will be shed for the least likely conception of a menacing creature in The Riyria Revelations. Age of Swords will improve upon the plot that the Age of Myth was built. Heroes will be born in the most unlikely way when women show perseverance, tenacity, resilience and truest of intentions. It's a fantasy read that's unlike your traditional fantasy read that it's a refreshing one. You'll be engrossed in ways you least likely expect.

Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan Review
Age of Swords by
Series: The Legends of the First Empire #1
Date Published:
Publisher: Del Rey
Language: English
Genre: Epic Fantasy
ISBN: 9781101965368
Format: Hardcover (I got a digital ARC via Netgalley for an honest review)
Pages: 512


The gods have been proven mortal and new heroes will arise as the battle continues in the sequel to Age of Myth—from the author of the Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles series.

n Age of Myth, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan launched readers on an epic journey of magic and adventure, heroism and betrayal, love and loss. Now the thrilling saga continues as the human uprising is threatened by powerful enemies from without—and bitter rivalries within.

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?

The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.
Review

Dhal Rhen has fallen to devastation after the latest attack by the Fhreys using Grenmorians (giants) and so, Clan Rhen travels south in a mass exodus for a safer home and in preparation for war. With the threat of a war between the Rhunes (human) and the Fhrey (elves), Persephone has called for a council of all Rhunes, from the Rhulyn-Rhunes of the south to the Gula-Rhunes of the north in a bid for a keenig to rule them all.

The thing I love about my poor memory is that it would seem to me as if the story is new. There are tons of names here (by here, all of the books released in The Legends of the First Empire series so far) that should be familiar to me. It took me until finishing Age of Swords to realize that indeed, the Nyphron of Instarya was the founding king glorified in the kingdom during Riyria's time.

There's this kid in this book named Tesh. Apart from Raithe, he's the only other Dureyan survivor so far. As Persephone's people travels south, Tesh went with the group. I haven't read the Riyria back. I could remember some "Teshlor" there (supposedly the ancient weapon martial art passed down from generation to generation until Hadrian Blackwater). So yeah, it was Teshlor, I guess (and not Tekchin). Hadrian Blackwater descended from the Teshlor knights while the beautiful Pickerings, I presume, descended from Tekchin and Moya. That's why the Pickerings are known (in Hadrian's time) to be the most beautiful clan in the kingdom for they inherited Moya's beauty. The Pickerings are also badasses because Moya is a badass woman while Tekchin is a badass Fhrey.

I'm still a bit confused but anyway, I'm not going to reopen Riyria. I will just wait this one out until the fifth book of the series as some revelation to the past. Yes, I love Aha! moments when I least expect them but hate my confusion. Nevertheless, based on what we'd read from The Riyria Revelations series, we can foretell what's going to happen to the characters in the series. Nyphron will marry Persephone, and Moya will be married to Tekchin.

Thus far, Raithe has not shown any remarkability worthy to be called a hero. He has a lot of letdowns in this book and his only achievement in the first book is being the Fhreyan pawn. Nyphron can't kill another Fhrey (he wished to go their elven heaven after death) and so, somebody else has to do the killing for him. Raithe is pivotal to that role. Yes, he's a noteworthy warrior but Malcolm has always catalyzed everything. If he has not achieved much as yet and he's obviously the first character the author pushed on our faces, then he might be the greatest hero there is by the end of the series, that only Brin and her readers will be privy to. I can't wait for his development.

For readers of TRR (The Riyria Revelations) series, we know how Mawyndule has destroyed the old kingdom (Nyphron's empire). And from this book, as Nyphron is a Fhrey and therefore will live for thousands of years, Nyphron will tell a different tale of how his kingdom came to be and all of the heroes in this series will be left forgotten. Brin will be the hero of that as she will soon discover how to write a book. People might tell a different history in the future but our heroes' memory will live in the famous, The Book of Brin.

What I'm trying to say is that there's a high probability that Raithe will die. He won't have Persephone (unless he marries someone else) and he can't be Hadrian's ancestor if Tesh will be the one who will establish the Teshlor knights (unless he'll maintain unremarkable until the end and Tesh will achieve more than him). Sure, Raithe and Hadrian have the same physique, both tall and big-built but there's not always a happy ending for everybody just like what happened to a lovable character here.

I can't parse my paragraphs well when I've got so much to say. So from here on, pardon me if it aggravates you with me starting my sentences with "I love" or "I hate".

I hate Artax x Atreyu moments. Always. *cries with a pool of tears* Who would have guessed that the menace that Riyria had to face through had a very nice back story? That creature will produce other heroes in the future and is monumental to the birth of a new and better kingdom. Its creation is the most devastating part of this book. I won't tell anything more. I won't spoil and I'm still very sad. The thing I found funny was that no matter how much you destroy it, it turns out it will just respawn in time. That sure turned out problematic for the Riyria but now that I know how it came to be, I'm not mad on the idea that it will be summoned back without further sacrifice (or isn't there?).

I love Michael J. Sullivan's skill at writing alternative history to discovering vocabulary, weapons, tools and a bunch of other stuff. When Gifford can't pronounce "r", he'd exchange words with r for his invented words and voila, new vocabulary! In a short span of time, Roan will invent and improve all these new tools, weapons and a whole bunch of stuff I was talking about. It's a bit weird though when Sullivan is pulling a bit of like how Rand created the "Randland" in The Wheel of Time series with all these alternate history stuff.

Learning to use magic in this book felt much like learning to weave in The Wheel of Time too. Actually, I'm not mad, I find that cool as it will no longer give me headache to understanding wielding magic even though it's just fictional.

War does hasten things. The characters are at an age where everybody is learning new things at once when time is of the essence, much like how a bunch of technology sprouted due to World War II (computers, satellite, Internet). At a time when the wheel and axle were invented (or in this case, discovered by humans with a bit of help by dwarves), the idea of preserving knowledge through physical means come alive.

I love the quest into defeating Balgargarath, a giant demon, who was trapped by the Dhergs (dwarves) for six thousand of years in a merry chase, got it lost in the huge and deep labyrinth that is the heart of Neith, the cradle of Dherg civilization.

I was awed at first as the group entered the entrance to the underground city of Neith. It reminds me of that huge cavern that the Fellowship of the Ring took as shortcut in the Lonely Mountains and that of the labyrinthine Ways (again, another shortcut) in the Wheel of Time. What's more? The monster that is Balgargarath reminds me of Balrog in the same manner that they are both giant monsters trapped in a complex giant cave. I love adventures like that.

The problem was, I suppose the author meant to paint the place where Balgargarath was trapped to be so deep and the underground path intricate (as described with the Riyria's adventure) but the author failed in doing so. The delivery was sloppy. He should have been more descriptive and should have made the readers feel as if we too, walked a very long way going under. Even the fall didn't feel that long. The Deep Shaft (the passage in Neith that leads to the bottom of the city, according to the glossary of terms) was just not impressive. The author could have built more on that.

I just love the conspiracies among the Fhrey tribes. While the accusations aren't 100% true, there are perceived intentions that did match. Overall, this book has ironed out the kinks in Age of Myth and provided answers to some whys in Royce's and Hadrian's time. While the world is still starting to be developed and the primitive ways are very much alive, in Elan's world, this was still the best time there ever was. Discovery of wonderful things and being able to wield something in mastery that I've noticed nobody else has done (yet) are just truly amazing. Suri is the best thing that happened here. She's a true genius in the Art.

Reaching the acknowledgment, I have learned how to describe myself using the author's words. I too am a solitary curmudgeon.

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