Series: The Riyrian Revelations #1-2
Publisher: Orbit (November 23, 2011)
Length: 694 pages
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
When a friend lent me Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan, I have to admit I was tentative about beginning it. Not because I did not want to sample this series which I had read and heard so much about from its numerous followers, but for the simple reason that I had also read all the naysayers who complained that the story lacked real substance and was “light” fantasy. However, like many things which I have worried with unnecessarily, my hesitance to begin Theft of Swords was an absolute waste, because this book is an excellent fantasy novel.
Now, I want to go ahead and make clear that this book is a straightforward fantasy romp. It isn’t a dark and brooding piece of realistic fantasy like so many other novels these days. It isn’t a social commentary on our time, cleverly hidden in a fantasy setting of elves and dwarves. Nor is it a work of literary experimentation where the prose leaves one contemplating the brilliance of him who penned it. No, Mr. Sullivan has written a novel which is all about storytelling at its finest; the grandeur of the book lays in the very fact that the writing style, the language, and the Tolkienesque setting all disappear in the sheer enjoyment of the tale of Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn.
As for the story itself, I am not going to go into detail because I do not want to ruin the fun, but all one needs to understand is that the plot begins very simply then gradually grows in complexity. There are numerous twists and turns along the way, and even when “the way” seems familiar, don’t become complacent because things are never exactly what you think they are. But the constant in everything is Hadrian and Royce: our good-hearted warrior and the mysterious thief. Their partnership and friendship is what drives this story. The plot lines of the other characters – and we get lots of supporting actors here – tend to revolve around our two stars much as the planets swirling around the sun. However, reading about these two never grows boring as Mr. Sullivan continues to deliver new insight into their personal history.
So, if you’ve been thinking of trying Theft of Swords, go ahead and just do it. It is a wild fantasy ride which you will find yourself liking more and more as it goes along. No, it isn’t ultra realistic in its blood and gore, but it more than makes up for that in the sheer brilliance of the camaraderie between Hadrian and Royce. And when you finish this book, I have a sneaky suspicion that you will find this one to your liking, just as I did.