Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review! Wintertide by Michael J. Sullivan

"A Forced Wedding.

A Double Execution.

Two Thieves Have Other Plans.

The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists with a day that will never been forgotten. On the high holiday of Wintertide, the empress will be married, and Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar will be publically executed. Once the empress suffers a fatal accident, everything will be perfect. There is only one problem – Royce and Hadrian have finally found the Heir of Novron."

If you haven't yet stepped into the world of The Riyria Revelations I highly suggest that you do. Wintertide has solidified Michael J. Sullivan as a writer with creativity and finesse, a sense of humor and an understanding of what truly makes a book readable again and again - characters that push the boundaries of their existence and fight for what is right.

Wintertide begins with our heroes, Royce and Hadrian, in Aquesta, contemplating how to release the Heir of Novron from the dungeons of the Imperial Palace. Unbeknownst to them, their friend and former employer Princess Arista is imprisoned with him, for crimes against the Empire. Royce and Hadrian take different paths to reach their goal, and Hadrian finds himself faced with the choice to pose as a knight and commit murder, or suffer the deaths of his friends. Royce leaves his lover, Gwen, behind and comes to Hadrian's aid - only to find his nemesis waiting for him and the circumstances more grim than he could have imagined. Everyone must make a choice, and for some it will mean life or death - for The Empire it will mean peace or war.

Wintertide, like the other novels in this series, is well written, paced expertly, and exciting from start to finish. The most intriguing thing about this particular episode is getting to see these characters in completely different settings. Hadrian Blackwater, Arista Essendon, and even the unshakeable Royce Melbourne find themselves out of their element. Hadrian cannot rely solely on his swords and his fighting skills, as he poses as a knight vying for glory and honor in the Grand Avryn Wintertide Tournament. Arista cannot turn to her magic and must rely on her own inner strength to survive the dungeons of the Imperial Palace. Royce faces the only man from his past that can match him wit for wit and ruthlessness for ruthlessness. But what will Royce become if he gives in to the violence of his past – and will he be able to stop?

On a second front, this book takes us to the heart of the Imperial Palace, and into the lives of Amelia, Royal Secretary to the Empress, and Empress Modina herself. Whether or not you’ve read the other novels in this series and know the story of where Modina comes from, it is clear that she faced a horrifying past and has been placed into a puppet position of power, within which she only holds on to life because or her friendship with Amelia. Wintertide is not only about the fight of our main heroes from the other novels, it is about Modina’s liberation from her own depths of despair.

In this sense, this novel is the most hopeful of the series, while simultaneously being the darkest. So many of our characters face what is their darkest hour, and have to make choices which will define who they really are. In an Empire ruled by intelligent men, who only see the end goal and not the cost, people like Royce, Hadrian and Arista are all that stands in the way. Of course, Royce and Hadrian being the legendary team that they are, the architects of the Empire would do well to be worried.

There is so much yet to be answered. Do we really know who the Heir of Novron is? What is the Horn of Gylindora? What is it that Esrahaddon saw on the horizon, and that Arista now senses is coming? All of these questions and more have me eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in the series, Percepliquis, which will debut in April, 2011.

If you haven’t yet given The Riyria Revelations a chance, it’s not a series to miss. Character driven and clever, its stories are full of action, romance, magic, humor, and the deeper question of what it means to be a good person – and what it takes to keep being a good person. Wintertide is probably the most exciting in the series so far, as it takes us into the heart of the Empire, and overlays its story with an ominous hint at what is to come.

"Wintertide is the fifth in a six-book series entitled The Riyria Revelations. This saga is neither a string of sequels nor a lengthy work unnaturally divided. Instead, The Riyria Revelations was conceived as a single epic tale told through six individual episodes. While a book might hint at building mysteries or thickening plots, these threads are not essential to reach a satisfying conclusion to the current episode – which has its own beginning, middle, and end. While written for an adult audience, The Riyria Revelations lacks sex, gratuitous violence, and profanity, making it appropriate for readers thirteen and older."

Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Publisher: Ridan Publishing
ISBN: 978-0982514580


  1. Never heard of this series before, may have to check it out, sounds like an awesome read. Thanks!

  2. I have absolutely been loving this series as well. :) So glad to see you enjoyed this installment so much too. :) Can't wait for the next and final book to come around. :)

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  4. Sullivan is exceptional at writing a book that moves quickly, but at the same time lets you get to know and relate to the characters. His writing style isn't lyrical, like Guy Gavriel Kay, but it isn't jolting either. I would recommend the Riyria Revelations to anyone looking for a quick paced, well thought out, and interesting series.

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