Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review: The Riyria Revelations Book 2 - Avempartha by Michael J Sullivan

I started reading Avempartha with some apprehension, I admit. After all, this is the second book in a series that a) had a very strong and enjoyable beginning in The Crown Conspiracy, and b) had to be a very good (in fact, it had to be better than Bk 1) sequel to The Crown Conspiracy while, at the same time, opening the world further and introducing new characters, events and places. In series of this kind, it’s always easy, from a certain point of view, to begin with a strong book and then to have a mediocre second book, but I am glad to say that Michael Sullivan didn’t disappoint and does indeed give a stronger showing with Avempartha. Don’t understand me wrong – The Crown Conspiracy was a great book and a very strong and assured debut, but the lessons Michael learned in writing The Crown Conspiracy have made Avempartha a stronger book. :-)

Avempartha picks up some time after the events of The Crown Conspiracy, a well-made decision indeed; This deepens our belief in the world Michael has created and helps us to feel more comfortable in it –after all, to write what are essentially stand-alones that can also be read together in series there needs to have some kind of separation between the books; the fact that time has passed since we last saw the characters adds a depth and realism to the story that works very well.

Michael’s world also takes on more depth, colour and history in Avempartha, with some of the history of the world coming in, but as with The Crown Conspiracy, these history-lessons are not info dumps, and also don’t appear just for the sake of filling the world a bit more; the world takes on more definition and life because the characters find out more about their world, so as they progress through the tale, it’s not only we who are treated, but they are, too. :-)

Character-wise, Michael excels his efforts in The Crown Conspiracy – some of the characters we already know and like (or dislike), are fleshed out more, with more than one surprise in store for those (like me) who have been trying to extrapolate who exactly the characters are and what their history is. But Michael also introduces a host of new characters, all of who serve to offer even more entertainment and intrigue, and a boat-load of action with some fitting magic, too. :-) Michael shows that he can work with a bigger cast of characters and make them all unique and entertaining, and as the revelations begin you just know that even if one particular character bores you, you’re only seeing the surface and that the depths are waiting to be explored. :-)

The only aspect of fantasy missing, in my opinion, are battles; we are so used to big battles in the books that we read that we’ve practically come to take them for granted, but Michael takes his tale on a different route, where battles are not needed, and besides, I think I’m just bemoaning the fact it’s strange for me to read a Fantasy novel that doesn’t have big set piece battles in it and still enjoy the book. :-)

All in all, Avempartha is not only a great book in its own right, delivering on Michael’s promise to give us stand-alones within a bigger story-arc, but it is also a better book than The Crown Conspiracy, showcasing Michael’s growing talents as an author who is sure to become a Name in the industry. :-) Well worth a read!


To order your copies, click here for US, here for UK, and for those in SA, please use the link at the top of the page. And for more info on Michael, don't forget to have a look at his website here.

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