Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: Nyphron Rising by Michael J. Sullivan

 A puppet is crowned. 
The true heir remains hidden. 
A rogue's secret could change everything.
War has come to Melengar. To save her realm, Princess Arista must reach the leader of the Nationalists and convince him to join forces. She turns to two trusted mercenaries to provide escort, but finds the team on the verge of dissolution.

Hadrian is tired of his lecherous profession and longs for a just cause. Royce knows a secret which could provide his partner a life’s purpose greater than anything his friend could imagine…but is it true? Or is an ancient wizard using them as pawns in his own struggle for power? To unravel the truth Royce convinces Hadrian to join him for one last mission—what they discover could change the future for all of Elan.

And he does it again!

Michael J. Sullivan’s third Ryria Revelations book NYPHRON RISING (AKA Let’s kick the awesomeness into high gear) is another cracker from the author.

I’m sure if someone told Sullivan that in only a few years time his “little indie series that could” would start to top reviewers lists for their favourite books of each year he might have thought otherwise, as the guy is not only pretty humble, but one of the nicest authors I have ever been in touch with. That said, this series is REALLY beginning to soar and with five books already released and the sixth and final volume set to drop early in 2011, this author will have released a fantasy series that will not only sit on my shelf next to faves like the Harry Potter books, and The Dresden Files, but will be pulled out and re-read whenever I feel like setting off on the adventure again.

Book three begins not long after AVEMPARTHA (book 2, see my review here). Master thieves and Royal Protectors Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, have been enjoying a little time off from what they do best (long enough that Hadrian begins to question his role in the pair and thinking perhaps it’s time to hang up his three swords), Royce wants him to stay for one last job at least, there is a puppet on the Imperial Nyphron throne in the form of a mute and destroyed Thrace who can’t even be convinced to eat. There is an Imperial army massing on Melangar’s southern borders and King Alric has plans to unite with rebel nationalist leader Degan Gaunt, though he forbids his sister princess Arista to go as Ambassador, she has other plans, which may include a couple of thieves.

This one, as I said above is a full-on worldbuilder. If you can imagine the first book was prologue, the second the opening salvo, this third is the beginning of the war proper. The villains get more villanous (and add to their ranks) as Bishop Saldur and Luis Guy plot their machinations. The heroes also get more numerous (Princess Arista’s professor of her Art of magic from Sheridan Arcadius enters the fray) and start to assemble a few outer arms that will be needed for the final fight.

This book belongs to three plot arms and all three are equally riveting! The shades of Hadrian’s past and what the medallion around his neck means that were teased at the end of the last book come to some fruition here. The network of people that Royce used to work for, called Black Diamond, become more than the glimpsed menace they were in the previous book and the more they are fleshed out, the more gray each member gets. The third plot arm is that of Modina (AKA Thrace, puppet Empress) and her lady in waiting, an upraised scullery maid by the name of Amilia. Amilia & Modina’s plotline was the one that could have been the most tedious in any other book, but here Sullivan is once again a deft hand. This is actually one of the most refreshingly simple and endearing threads of the book. Amilia is perfect in her role and as she tries to help Modina and get her to come out of the shell she has built around herself, you can really FEEL that. Sullivan’s skill with emotions is impressive to say the least. That also brings us to Hadrian’s plotline about his past, which mostly concerns his relationship with his father and his reasons for leaving to join the military at age 17. His feelings throughout those pages is palpable and true. It’s funny, after three books I feel I can say, “Yep, that’s how Hadrian would react to that, and that’s how Royce would handle that”. Thus proving to me that Sulivan didn’t create these characters on a whim. They have depth, and emotions and he doesn’t sacrifice those for any tricks.

One of my favourite things in this book is how Sullivan shrewdly has Royce and Hadrian put princess Arista through a similar set of situations that they did with her brother Alric. Riding a less-than-evenly tempered horse till she’s saddle sore and weary, having her sleep under the stars with leaves for a pillow, eating what’s available, and consorting with lower-statured people, these are the types of things that I am convinced the two thieves do on purpose. She is a good princess and a fair judge of people, but she isn’t yet a ruler. She hasn’t yet reached greatness, but with these two I am sure she will. This bit of the plot is subtle and simple, and it was a nice little side story, that helps us really get into Arista’s character.

The author also manages to put in a coded, historical mystery that drives the latter half of the book and is as mind-blowing in its execution as any thriller that is on the shelves today. It is at once mystifying, and rocketship-paced, all the while maintaining the heart that is at the center of these characters and their storied pasts. He even manages to open up new mysteries within the ones he solves. I was a bit wowed to say the least.

NYPHRON RISING is a meatier addition to the series, but one that does not disappoint at all. In fact, Sullivan ramps up all his long-arc plot threads, gives us more small wavering glimpses at the future, and tells us another rip-roaring yarn worthy of even the best fireside storyteller. A Triumph!

FYI: The final line is once again a cliffhanger that will leave you absolutely breathless with anticipation for the next book. Thankfully, I have a signed copy of the 4th one (THE EMERALD STORM) ready to go!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you haven’t been reading Michael J. Sullivan’s Ryria Revelations series, you are missing out. Go grab them today here and set out on a voyage of adventure and intrigue.

1 comment:

  1. I just finished Avempartha a few days ago (and reviewed it today). If that book is any sign of the quality of the rest of the series, The Riyria Revelations is a huge gem in the SFF world. Great review. I'm glad you liked this book. It makes me even more exited to get to it.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...