I recently came across a series (originally self-published) called The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan. Initially, the series was recommended to me by a superior at work – it was also at this time I found out the rather shocking news that fantasy was mostly a nerdy guy thing (story for another day). Anyway, I finally bought the first volume Theft of Swords which is basically the first two books put into one. Since this volume was originally two books, I wanted to review the two halves separately; as of this review, I have not started the second part.
That brings us to The Crown Conspiracy. We are first introduced to two thieves Hadrian and Royce who are known throughout the land as Riyria (why that is, I have no idea nor is it ever explained. I mean what does that word even mean?). They’re a skilled set of thieves who’ll work for any noble and pull off even the most difficult of jobs. Because of their fame, they’re targeted to be framed for the murder of the king (this isn’t a spoiler because it actually says this on the back of the book). The rest of the book follows these characters (and others) as they find themselves in the midst of…well, a conspiracy. Shocker.
The plot itself was an interesting idea and the writing was fairly well done. Although I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat, I found the dynamic of the characters thoroughly entertaining. Royce, in particular, was my favorite simply by his dangerously mysterious personality; I’m sure the author did that to the reader (me) on purpose considering that he continually dropped hints about a certain secret the character has (not revealed yet, but I’m pretty sure I already know it). I also have to compliment Sullivan in beautifully misleading me in one direction when in actuality the opposite was going on in the plot.
Sullivan’s writing style, while very good, was a little…disorienting to me. His writing was in third person omniscient in the sense that he didn’t really change perspectives in a way I’m most used to. Rather than change POV from chapter to chapter he chose a style that was more akin to head-hopping, yet it was more elegant than such an annoying technique. The only other thing is that some of the swordplay – some – was pretty laughable. A sword cutting another sword in half? Come on, dude. (Admittedly, the sword that did such a thing is rumored to be magical, but, considering the state of magic in the context of this book, I have my doubts about it having any actual enchantments.)
Overall, The Crown Conspiracy was a great read with a good balance of action (that may or may not be realistic), comedy, and mystery. I look forward to reading the next installment.