Age of Swords is the second book in Michael J. Sullivan's new series set thousands of years before the Riyria Revelations trilogy he is most well-known for (Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron).
I was not that impressed overall with the first book in the new series (Age of Myth) when I read it last year but remained intrigued enough about the setting to definitely be interested in reading the second book in the series when it came out.
There are many new characters to get used to in the Legends of the First Empire series and the setting is very different from the amusing adventures featuring Royce and Hadrian, the thieves with hearts of gold around which the deservedly popular Riyria books are based.
However, the new characters are extremely memorable as well. I really feel like we get a better understanding of Persephone, Arion, Raithe and Suri in Age of Swords then we did in Age of Myth. In fact, it's interesting that even though Mawyndule and the political intrigue in the Fhrey capital are an important plot thread in this book it is almost completely overshadowed by the quest Persephone and her companions take to the land of the Dhergs (dwarves) to try and find a way to save her people (and all humans) from the imminent genocide at the hands of the substantially more powerful Fhrey. The Fhrey are basically elves who have access to almost limitless power which makes them appear to be gods to the other species. One problem I have with the series is that there is a little bit of a "Clan of the Cave Bear" vibe because the humans are at so undeveloped that it is astonishing how many basic objects that they currently exist without. (The wheel is something that is "invented" at some point during Age of Swords.) They also still worship a number of different gods, and even perform animal sacrifice to curry favor with them.
Another complaint about Age of Swords I have is that Malcolm and Raithe, who had such a huge role in the first book, have much smaller roles in the story the second book. That being said, I'm happy to see Roan and Moya are more prominently featured this time. In fact, vast swathes of the plot are moved forward by the female characters, with the males mostly sidelined. This is not a bad thing!
Overall, I am very encouraged about where this story is going and I am excited to read the next three books in this ongoing series from one of the best fantasy writers regularly publishing new work in the genre.
Title: Age of Swords (Legends of the First Empire, #2).
Author: Michael J. Sullivan.
Paperback: 496 pages.
Publisher: Del Rey.
Date Published: July 25, 2017.
Date Read: September 25, 2017.
GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★★ (5.0/5.0).
OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.83/4.0).