This is a review of “Theft of Swords” by Michael J. Sullivan, a compilation of the first two books in the series the Riyra Revelations – “The Crown Conspiracy” and “Avempartha“.
Royce and Hadrian make a profitable living as agents-for-hire to wealthy nobles, doing everything from stealing to spying to kidnapping. And it works for them, they’re mostly happy with it. What they aren’t so thrilled about is becoming the scapegoats when the king is murdered. Nor are they happy about having to guard a prince on behest of his sister. Oh, and the monk. And there is a wizard, too. Yeah. Not. Happy. Neither will the people who framed them be by the time Royce and Hadrian are done.
This is like watching a medieval Indiana Jones running around, and it works! The pace is fast, the language easy and the characters are wonderful. Royce and Hadrian are perfect foils for each other, playing off of each other and against each other occasionally. The prince is written realistically – spoiled and unused to the harshness of life, but not ridiculous – and his sister the princess is a very likeable female character even if she is a witch. She is just trying to do the best that she can in difficult circumstances.
The monk is delightfully innocent but anything but stupid, and the wizard is ancient when our heroes finally meet up with him. The fact that the wizard complains about the “modern language” people use is masterfully done, and a wonderful touch. Female characters in general are made quite tough and realistic, and I like that there are no weak women around, and the world built up in the book is vast and beautiful, varied and even dark at times.
The bad guys are there, hidden behind the scenes and plotting and planning. It is a very complicated plot and conspiracy going around, reaching out into all sorts of walks of life. The church has done quite a lot of rather horrible stuff during the years, all in the name of religion. And it’s all the brain child of the last person you would expect to be the leader is the leader, as well as their reason for doing all of this. The characters grow and develop, they aren’t static.
I have very little negative to say about this book. There are a few characters that annoy me to death and back, but they are more or less minor characters and can be survived. The fact that there is a princess who is a witch and who is the only one to side with Royce and Hadrian, is a bit stereotypical but it is done quite well. Having the bad guy revealed early on is also a bit irritating for it loses a bit of the mystery, but the plot line develops so this is mostly a pet peeve of mine.
In general it is a wonderful book, anda I definitely recommend it and I will read the two sequels – “Rise of Empire” and “Heir of Novron“.