From the very beginning of the series called The Riyria Revelations, I have been reviewing each book. As I said in my previous post on Sullivan’s work, Avempartha, I would continue reading the series for the time being. So, I acquired the second volume of this series, Rise of Empire. Just like before, the second volume is a combination of two books: book three and book four. Since they were originally two books, I will proceed with writing two separate reviews once again. As of this post, I have not begun the fourth installment. (Warning: because of the nature of this review, there may be some minor spoilers if you have not yet read the first volume.)
And without further ado, let’s talk about Nyphron Rising. From the get go, Sullivan was setting up a larger plot arc which involved the church (called the Church of Nyphron) finding the descendant of an ancient emperor/demigod and restoring the old empire from nearly a thousand years ago. Of course that’s only on the surface and in actuality they want to kill this heir and take the empire for themselves. …Weird, but okay, I’ll run with it. By the end of Avempartha the church finds itself with a nice little figurehead they claim is the heir and begin their empire, hence the title of the volume, while still looking for the real thing so they can kill him/her.
Nyphron Rising continues following Royce and Hadrian as well as their increasing involvement with the major conspiracy. In this book, they have even begun working for one particular side as spies, not thieves, instead of selling their services to the highest bidder. Princess Arista, previously a side character, even comes in to take center stage of this book. The storyline of this novel focuses mainly on Hadrian, who, it turns out, is more involved in the grandiose schemes of ancient men than he previously thought. …And the cliches don’t stop there!
This third installment was soooo annoying! Along with being predictable, the book was riddled with cliches, backstory in the form of intrusive tangents, and ludicrously convenient plot points. There was even a twist that was so blatantly obvious, I saw it coming from chapter five in a seventeen chapter book. On top of that, the characters were contradictory to how they were written both within this installment and the previous two. I swear that Hadrian is the only one who has remained in character the entire series.
However, my particular beef is with the women. …Where to begin? I honestly can’t decide if Sullivan is sexist or just really, really bad at writing women. Let’s take Arista. She continuously waffles between being a twenty-six year old toddler and a strong, intelligent woman who also happens to be a novice to magic from the beginning of the series. She’s good at magic, then she can’t figure out a spell; she claims to not be a witch or says she’ll never practice magic again, but then does it in the very next page; she acts/thinks like a spoiled little princess, then behaves as if she’s the kind of person that takes everything in stride. Make up your mind!!
If that weren’t enough, Sullivan’s attempts at romance are awkward and forced mostly because they come out of nowhere. (The only chemistry I’ve ever sensed is between Hadrian and Royce, but that’s a bromance not a romance…probably.) And his attempts at wit fall flat on its face, leaving a giant bloody mess on the floor. I also think he should have spent a little more time researching since I have doubted the authenticity of many situations of his novel.
Despite all that, this is still better than the second book of the series. His writing style improved somewhat and even moved away from headhopping-like style to a form of third person omniscient I’m more familiar with – the type that has perspectives change from chapter to chapter. Whether or not I finish this series depends a whole lot on the fourth book, so we’ll see what happens.
For more details on what bugged me about this novel, check out my YouTube video here. Warning: video contains spoilers.