This is a review of “The Crown Tower“, the first book of the Riyria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan, a prequel to his other series the Riyria Revelations.
Hadrian Blackwater, a warrior with nothing to fight for, is paired with Royce Melborn, a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Hired by an old wizard, together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. It isn’t gold or jewels that the wizard is after, and if he can only keep them from killing each other, they just might bring him his prize.
The author returned to this world with flair, showing off new places and new pieces of information while revisiting familiar haunts and still managing to make them seem new and exciting and unknown. With new characters and old ones making appearances, the story of Hadrian and Royce’s first meeting and consequent first adventure together is a delightful romp of an adventure.But it is also a book that can be read without any previous knowledge of the world or of the characters therein.
With a more cynical and snarky Royce and a more puppy-like and innocent Hadrian it is a delight to actually see how those two work together and slowly start to trust one another until they become the familiar epic duo from the Riyria Revelations. They both have sharper edges and more confrontations than in the Revelations, and everything about them is more impulsive and younger. Reading about Gwen De Lacey and how she managed to start the Rose and the Thorn and how she came to Medford in the first place – and why! – is also explained in this book. This younger version of Gwen was a bit more likable than the older one is.
It was great fun to pick up on all the nods and prods and hints about things to come, things that those who have read the Revelations will recognise. It did add a whole new level of depth to the story.
The only thing I might complain about – and this is just nitpicking – was that the professed hate between Royce and Hadrian at the start wasn’t as strong as it might have or should have been. It could have been worked a tiny bit more, just a bit.
Other than that, this was a wonderful book and I am glad that I saved it for a rainy day when I needed something to read that I knew would be good.
I definitely recommend this book!