Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review - "The Emerald Storm" by Michael J. Sullivan

SciFiGuy.ca SFF reviewer Lisa Hurley continues her marathon review of Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria Revelations medieval fantasy series.  The Emerald Storm, the fourth book in the series is another strong entry and reinforces the fact that this fantasy series is one to watch. The book officially releases April 10, 2010.

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.

Lisa's earlier reviews:
The Crown Conspiracy | Avempartha | Nyphron Rising

Book Description: Ex-mercenary Hadrian Blackwater sets course on a high seas adventure to find the lost Heir of Novron. His only hope lies in confronting the ruthless and cunning Merrick Marius. Fearing his friend is not up to the challenge, Royce Melborn joins his old partner for one last mission. Their journey finds them adrift amid treachery and betrayals forcing Hadrian to face a past he hoped never to see again.
The Emerald Storm is perfectly titled. A storm is certainly brewing on the horizon, as the plans of the Imperial Government are revealed to be far more insidious, and the fate not of just Melengar, but all of Elan, hangs in the balance. This book takes Royce and Hadrian halfway around Elan, to a part of the world smothered in jungle and dangerously close to the territory of goblins. Following Merrick's trail, they start on the ship, The Emerald Storm, posing - not so convincingly- as sailors, and their journey brings them face to face with the Tenkin, the Ghazel, and into a terrifying world at the edge of civilization - and sanity. While they try to uncover Merrick's plan, Arista has taken a page from their book and begins her own covert operation to find and free Degan Gaunt from the clutches of the Empire. Her bold attempt takes her right into the Imperial Palace, under the nose of her old friend, Thrace - now the puppet queen -and her old enemy, Bishop Saldur.

This book, like all the others, is a pleasure to read. A large part of the action takes part aboard the Storm, and I was reminded a bit of reading Moby Dick - except Sullivan manages to explain a lot about sailing, command structure, and routine on the ship in a much more exciting way. There are no long paragraphs describing knots in excruciating detail, nor further paragraphs detailing the chain of command aboard a vessel at sea. When we are learning about the ship we are learning about it with Royce and Hadrian, and seeing a lot of the day to day routine through their eyes. As Royce and Hadrian learn the hard way, life at sea can be even more perilous than being professional thieves and mercenaries.

The overall arcing story plot really thickens in this novel, as do the layers of conspiracy. I had patted myself on the back for figuring out a mysterious plot point, just to find out fifty pages later I was completely wrong. The twists and turns keep the reader guessing and often take the story in wonderfully unexpected directions. Overall the book is darker, and at the end we're left feeling that things aren't exactly going as planned. The path ahead is going to be hard for our favorite characters - but it should be very exciting.

For fans or for newcomers to the Riyria Revelations, The Emerald Storm is a breathtaking read that manages to invoke the spirit of classic literature - from the Odyssey type journey of the Storm's crew, to the foreign jungles and violent trek that invoke images of Heart of Darkness. Of course, like all of the books in the series, it is readable in and of itself, but I'm sure anyone who starts here will want to go back to The Crown Conspiracy and see where it all started. The ending will leave you itching for the next book - but in the meantime you'll have to suffice with re-reading the series - something I'm looking forward to doing myself.

Wintertide, the fifth book in the series is due for release later this year (October).


Read a sample Chapter of The Emearld Storm.

Ridan Publishing
Published: April 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Pages: 396
ISBN #: 978-0982514535

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. "I had patted myself on the back for figuring out a mysterious plot point, just to find out fifty pages later I was completely wrong."

    Okay, so now you really have me wondering.

  2. I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but it had to do with who Merrick's contact might have been. I was so sure it was a certain someone...my point was though, that I really liked being surprised - I like a story that keeps me on my toes!

  3. Another great review! The one thing that amazies me is I think each book is great and the next one may not match, just to read the next one and it toped the one before it. These books have really become one of my favorites. It seems as all the threads are connected and will come together, and the problem is so much bigger than just the two thieves, or even just one city - like you mentioned.


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