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Age of Swords by Michael Sullivan review (audiobook)

Age of Swords: The Legends of the First Empire, Book 2 by Michael Sullivan

The Hit

In Age of Swords, Michael Sullivan differentiates his Legends of the First Empire series by taking the story in new directions away from many standard fantasy tropes. While Age of Myth set an excellent foundation, Age of Swords made unique inroads as a can’t-stop-listening book.

We last left our heroes from Dahl Rhen in the midst of a victory over Gryndal, the First Minister of Fane Lothian. But all is not as it seems among some of their allies. Dun. Dun. Dun.  We learn that Nyphron‘s intentions are dubious at best and nefarious at worst. Before he can further his ambitions, however, s#*&! hits the fan for our noble friends in Dahl Rhen.

Long story short, Persephone, Raithe and the rest most journey southward and prepare for war and to appoint a keenig to leader the Rhunes against the Fhrey. Rather than getting bogged down in endless council scenes, the middle build of Age of Swords sends part of our band of heroes on a quest to get — you guessed it — swords. But to win the sharp-pointy sticks capable of withstanding the Fhrey’s weapons, they’ll have to journey into the CENTER OF THE EARTH!

I was especially pleased with the character arc of Mawyndule and Suri in Age of Swords. Without giving away any spoilers, Sullivan deftly molds these characters in unexpected ways. Both of their arcs featured a powerful narrative drive that probably won’t turn out like you’re expecting. The Mines of Moria were one of my favorite part of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and I felt like I was returning there (in a new, fresh way) throughout the journey in Neith.

Age of Myth established an excellent foundation for this series but Sullivan’s unique twist on the classic high fantasy origin tale really shines in Age of Swords. As always, Tim Gerard Reynolds delivers a standout performance (especially considering some of the wacked words in this book!). I can’t wait for the next installment, Age of War to be released in July!

 The Verdict: Green Light (must-read)

Get Age of Swords: The Legends of the First Empire, Book 2 here
Note: All book links are affiliate links.

Official Description

The gods have been proven mortal and new heroes will arise as the battle continues in the sequel to Age of Myth—from the author of the Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles series.

In Age of Myth, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan launched readers on an epic journey of magic and adventure, heroism and betrayal, love and loss. Now the thrilling saga continues as the human uprising is threatened by powerful enemies from without—and bitter rivalries from within.

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess renders them indistinguishable from gods?

The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feel nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits, as fearsome as it is deadly.

Age of Myth by Michael Sullivan review (audiobook)

Age of Myth (Book One of The Legends of the First Empire) by Michael Sullivan

 

The Hit

I’ve been a longtime fan of Michael Sullivan, all the way back to Theft of Swords and the rest of the original Riyria Revelations. It’s been awhile since I’ve returned to his work but I’m sure glad I did. As Michael explains in the intro to the book, Age of Myth takes places thousands of years before the events of the Riyria books. This means you can jump in and enjoy the series even if you’ve never read anything else by Sullivan (although there are plenty of easter eggs throughout for the keen reader to pick up). I loved the setting in Age of Myth — it’s sort of a bronze age society filled with humans and the magical Fhrey (elves) that the humans believe are gods due to their magical abilities and long lives. Sullivan is a true master of world-building and gives you enough to understand the story and some of the world’s history while keeping your thirsty for more. Age of Myth is essentially an origin myth (hence the title) but it’s presented in a way that engages the reader with the characters and leaves you guessing about what might happen next. I listened to the audio version and Tim Gerard Reynolds does an excellent job as the narrator.

The few qualms I had with this story are minor. Namely, I felt that a handful of the characters acted extremely naive in the fact of some very obvious events. Even so, I definitely recommend Age of Myth for fantasy lovers of all kinds. Sullivan is a modern-day Tolkien whose blue-collar writing style gets you hooked and takes you for an entertaining ride.

The Verdict: Green Light (must-read)

Get Age of Myth: Book One of The Legends of the First Empire here
Note: All book links are affiliate links.

Official Description

One of fantasy’s finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.

Michael J. Sullivan’s trailblazing career began with the breakout success of his Riyria series: full-bodied, spellbinding fantasy adventures whose imaginative scope and sympathetic characters won a devoted readership and comparisons to fantasy masters Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Now Age of Myth inaugurates an original five-book series.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

The Tiger and the Wolf (Echoes of the Fall #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Hit

Adrian Tchaikovsky creates a bold, fresh fantasy world in The Tiger and The Wolf, the first book in the Echoes of the Fall series. This deftly-woven coming of age tale primarily follows the young girl Maniye as she struggles to understand and accept her heritage. Maniye goes on the standard fantasy hero’s journey, but Tchaikovsky’s skill at world-building and characterization present this tried and true plot in a fresh light. What begins as a simple story of Maniye, the girl who can Step into both a tiger and wolf, features many intricate twists and turns that make The Tiger and The Wolf hard to put down. I particularly enjoyed the setting which featured elements of a post-Ice Age North and Central America with a rich mythology all of its own. Don’t miss this read if you’re looking for a break from the oft-retread medieval European fantasy tropes. The Tiger and The Wolf is a classic in the making with the perfect blend of what you love about fantasy in a brand new skin.

The Verdict

Green light (must-read)
Get The Tiger and The Wolf here.

Note: All book links are affiliate links.