Sunday, March 14, 2010

Review - Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan

Occasional SFF reviewer Lisa Hurley is back to continue her review of Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria Revelations medieval fantasy series, this time with an excellent review of Avempartha, the second book in the series. The Riyria Revelations is a six-book fantasy series conceived as a single epic tale divided into individual episodes. All were written before the first was released so that plot elements are intertwined, yet each is self-contained and can be read independently. With this series you will not be held hostage to read the next one--you will simply want to.

The third book Nyphron Rising was released in November 2009, and the fourth book: The Emerald Storm will be available in April 2010. Lisa will be back with reviews of both and an interview with Michael J. Sullivan. You can read Lisa's review of The Crown Conspiracy here.

Book Description: There's no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to murder the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.
I picked up Michael J. Sullivan’s Avempartha expecting to get some answers to the questions that The Crown Conspiracy left me with. This second book in a six part series certainly doesn’t disappoint – but it does leave one with more questions. This explains why as soon as I was finished with Avempartha, at about two in the morning, I could not fight the urge to rush into my office and scoop up my copy of the third book in the series, Nyphron Rising, and begin reading it immediately thereafter. I’m beginning to think that Michael himself is a wizard, surreptitiously casting a spell as I read which entrances me to continue to read his books. I’m onto you!
Avempartha is different from The Crown Conspiracy in that it’s the second book in the series, and as such doesn’t have to do as many character introductions. However, the character development continues, as our favorite not-so-good good-guys reveal a bit more about themselves. This book is more action packed and flows at a steady momentum which tugs the reader along. This is, in couple with superb writing, because of the plot, which is very Beowulf-esque. A small town is in need of a hero to save it from a terrifying, inhuman monster which attacks every night. Royce and Hadrian might not exactly be Anglo-Saxon warriors, but they do have some very clever tricks up their sleeves.

As part of this major plot thread, there is the elven tower of Avempartha. Unbreeched for over a century it is a massive, beautiful relic of the past. Within its walls lies the only thing that can kill the beast which ravages the small town of Dahlgren – as well as revelations about Royce Melborne’s past.
What I liked about this book was the ways in which we begin to see stark differences between Royce and Hadrian. The storyline takes them in different directions - Royce is drawn to the tower of Avempartha and spends time with the wizard Esrahaddon. Hadrian stays true to his soldier's training and helps the villagers set up defences, as well as giving some sword lessons. When they are apart from one another, we begin to get an understanding of them as individuals. This is not only true of our two protagonists, however. Princess Arista and Bishop Saldur both find themselves in Dahlgren. Arista is much more in the foreground of this story, and her struggle to be both a woman and an ambassador of Melengar reveals an internal struggle to come to terms with her past. She is haunted by the accusations of witchcraft made against her in the last book, and unsure who to trust - Esrahaddon, or the very church that put her on trial. As part of the Church of Nyphron, Bishop Saldur has his own agenda and his own mission in Dahlgren, which proves to be much different than even he expected.

If you are picking up Avempartha by itself, it's an exciting read, and you will probably want to go back to The Crown Conspiracy, not because you were confused or felt out of the loop, but because you'll want to know where the story started. If you're reading Avempartha because you loved The Crown Conspiracy you won't be disappointed, and you will find yourself rushing out to get the third book in the series, perhaps at two in the morning, because you just need to know what happens next.


Ridan Publishing
Published: April 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 344
ISBN #: 978-0979621119

The Riyiria Revelations Series:
  1. The Crown Conspiracy (2008)
  2. Avempartha (2009)
  3. Nyphron Rising (2009)
  4. The Emerald Storm (April 2010)
  5. Wintertide (October 2010)
  6. Percepliquis (2011)


  1. These books are amazing. I have really loved them. I am really looking forward to getting into The Emerald Storm. Glad to see you loved these books so much! Great review!

  2. Thanks Melissa. My reviewer Lisa is really into the series and is looking forward to Emerald Storm as well. I haven't had the pleasure of reading them yet.

  3. Thanks Melissa! This series has really got me, and I'm happy to say that it's got my boyfriend hooked too - and this is a guy that took a whole year to read his last book. He got through the Crown Conspiracy in a week! If that's not proof that this series is amazing, I don't know what is.

  4. Lisa - That is so cool to hear! Authors probably love to hear stories like with your boyfriend. That is great! I remember with Crown Conspiracy I had it finished in one weekend, I just couldn't put it down to do much anything else. (and well, I really much rather read then clean :) ) It really is a great read.

  5. Just wanted to stop by and mention that Avempartha made it to round 2 of the Bookspot Central's annual tournamnet of books (A March Madness type of bracket where books face off one on one). So if you read Avempartha and liked it please go to and vote. And if you read it and also Finch by Jeff VanderMeer and liked Finch better ... forget I said anything ;-) -- just kidding - vote with your conscience.

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