Thursday, November 07, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Age of Legend (Legends of the First Empire, #4) by Michael J. Sullivan

I have been a huge fan boy of Michael Sullivan’s work ever since I discovered his Riyria books a few years ago. I’ve read both Riyria trilogies (I think the later one, with Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron is absolutely brilliant).

So I was very psyched when he announced he was writing a new 5–part series called “Legends of the First Empire” set thousands of years before the events of the Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles. The great thing about Sullivan is that he completely writes out a series before he publishes the first book so there’s no angst wondering if the series one is hooked on will actually be completed.

The new series is very different from his Riyria books. Instead of revolving around two main characters (Hadrian and Royce) the new books have multiple primary characters: Persephone, Raithe, Brin, Arion, Suri, Mawyndule, Malcolm and Nyphron. The books tell the stories of how Fhrey (long-lived, magical elves) and Rhunes (short-lived, technologically unsophisticated humans) interacted with each other way in the past. This provides real-time perspectives on events which are viewed as legends or fairy tales in the later Riyria books.

In my opinion the second and third books (Age of Swords and Age of War, respectively) have been the best of the series so far, in my humble opinion. Sullivan has not shied away from ending the lives of some of the characters in the series we have gotten to know over the course of multiple books. This means that one never is really sure that any of your favorite characters are safe, which heightens suspense and builds dramatic tension.

In Age of Legend the war that began in the previous book between men and elves (and that one would have expected to be a massacre and rout in favor of the Fhrey ends up surprisingly to be something of a stalemate due to the Rhune's much greater numbers and ability to counter elven magic with human ingenuity and innovation.

We are now into Book 4 of a 6-book series so the end of the story is approaching. The primary animating plot point is trying to figure out “what and who” Malcolm is and realizing that his plan for humankind is probably their greatest hope, because he has demonstrated he can see the future and the past pretty clearly. The problem is that his plan is dangerous and involves treating things and people who are legends in old wives’ tales as real. And there’s that whole suicide and visiting the underworld thing.

Anyway, there’s a reason why the 5th book is called Age of Death (But it is still very curious why the 6th and last book is called Age of Empyre). Book 4 ends with a number of our most important characters facing mortality head on. Presumably this will all be resolved in the next book. Some people have complained that Book 4 basically ends on a cliffhanger, which is true, but even so I felt that there was enough story in Age of Legend to satisfy me and I'm looking forward to the last two books coming out in 2020!

Title: Age of Legend.
Michael J. Sullivan.
Paperback: 480 pages.
 Grim Oak Press.
Date Published: July 9, 2019.
Date Read: October 26, 2019.

GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★☆  (4.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).

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