Author: Michael J Sullivan
Length: 414 Pages
Release: June 2016
"No man can escape death. But it's how we run that defines us."
I have been meaning to read a Michael J Sullivan book for a few years now. I finally have and I loved it. And now I have the rest of his novels to explore while I wait (not very patiently) for the rest of this series to release.
First of all, let's talk about the two things that make this book so amazing: the characters and the writing. Every single character in this was so well done. The ones I loved, the ones I hated, the ones I still don't know what to feel about. They all made me feel something, and when I read, that's what I want. I need characters I can connect with in some way, and that definitely happened here. And the writing is superb. It flows easily, is descriptive without dragging, and brings the world to life.
Let's talk a little more about some of the characters.
Raithe was an early favorite. The story shifts from him, but he remains a central character throughout. He's the classic fantasy hero, I guess you could say. He's a good person with hard past that likes to haunt him. And he can't seem to say no to helping people, even when he might want to. Plus, this line came from his head, so I knew I had to love him. "Hands could be such expressive things." You can tell a lot about someone from their hands. Glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks so! I really want some of those dreams Raithe is harboring to come true for him; he deserves it.
Malcolm had me grinning every time he was mentioned. Ever since that first encounter I knew there was something I liked about him. And now I just want him to find his freedom and his happiness. The bromance between him and Raithe is also pretty perfect. Their scenes together are some of my favorites.
I wasn't sure how to feel about Persephone in the first couple of chapters where she was introduced, but I soon came to love her. She's strong and confident but seeks council and help from those around her. There are plenty of times that she could break and it would be completely understandable, but she understands that her people need her, so she holds herself together. She is honestly one of my favorite women in fantasy at the moment.
Suri might possibly be my favorite of them all, but it's really hard to say. She's quirky in the perfect way and has these little bouts of wisdom that I love. She fits so well with the rest of the main cast, despite her eccentricities. And of course Minna, her wolf companion, is wonderful. Who doesn't want a wolf for their sidekick? As for those bouts of wisdom, this was one of my favorites: "Fools believe silence is a void needing to be filled; the wise understand there's no such thing as silence."
Our other central character, Arion, is probably the one I have warmed to the least. She isn't as involved with the other characters throughout the main story, so that might be where some of my reservations come from with her. I am definitely interested in seeing where her story goes in the future installments, I am just not quite as attached to her as some of the others.
The side characters are also excellent. They each added something to the story. No one was there just to be there. And I can see that some of them might grow more in later installments.
The world in this is excellent and has a fascinating magic system that I look forward to exploring more. Everything is so well explained, and so naturally that you don't feel overwhelmed entering an alien setting when you start. This book comes very close to perfect in my opinion. If there was anything that bothered me, it hasn't stuck around in my thoughts. It's full of action, politics, magic, and just the day to day challenges of life.
If you haven't read this book yet and are at all inclined to read epic or high fantasy stories, I highly suggest you start now. I will be diving right into the second one (which releases at the end of July) and from there exploring the rest that Sullivan has to offer.