Okay, so this is NOT going to turn into a book review site. Really.
But I read a lot. And a lot of the stuff I read you’re not going to find in bookstores because it’s written by independent authors like myself, so there aren’t any huge market budgets like for the latest James Patterson & Co. book, or even the latest Richard Castle book (and yeah, I’m kinda dying to know who ghost-writes those, even though I haven’t read them, but I digress).
And in an effort to schedule my life a little better so I can post more regularly, I thought that Sunday seemed like a good time to tell you fine folks about some of the stuff I’ve been reading. And there’s not a much better place to kick it off than with an honest-to-god stereotype-crushing indie author success story like Michael Sullivan. Full disclosure, I don’t know Michael, I’ve exchanged a few comments with his wife/publicist/former agent on a message board, but that’s it. Even fuller disclosure, the links here will take you to Smashwords, and I get an affiliate cut off stuff you buy there. You can also find his stuff on Amazon, his website, and a bunch of other places if you don’t wanna give me a little kickback.
So Michael Sullivan writes a series of books called Riyria Revelations, about a pair of thieves in a fantastical land where elves, dwarves and magic still exist. And this pair of thieves gets tangled up in affairs of state, and mayhem ensues. I can’t give you too much of the plot, because I’m on Book 2 right now, and everything about the world may change by the time I get to Book 6.
Book 1 is called The Crown Conspiracy, and it’s one of the most promising beginnings to a fantasy series I’ve read since The Belgariad. I fell in love with the characters of Royce and Hadrian immediately, and love their witty banter, their mysterious background, their cast of supporting characters, the whole nine yards. It’s pretty easy to see that these characters have a lot more to divulge, and what I enjoy about Sullivan’s writing is that he doesn’t feel the need to just barf it all out in a huge exposition piece, he’s taking the time to reveal bits slowly over the course of all the books. It’s the mark of a very well-planned series, and something I envy, because I can barely keep track enough to foreshadow two chapters ahead, much less reach back to background clues I dropped three books ago and pick them up.
The plot is fairly simple – two thieves are hired to do a job, the job turns out to be a setup, bad things happen, the wrong person ends up dead, and our heroes get blamed for it. Don’t get grumpy, this hardly even counts as a spoiler, it’s all in the bit you can get as a free sample. Then royalty gets involved, and we all know how well that usually goes for common thieves, more subterfuge is unfurled, a deeper conspiracy is uncovered, an even deeper one is hinted at, and a big honking fight ensues. We have betrayal upon betrayal, inter-kingdom politics, a snarky dwark, a magic-user who may be a good guy, the same magic-user who may be super-evil, a brilliantly drawn monk who I desperately hope comes back in a later book (and honestly, would be such a good character to kill off later because nobody would expect it and everyone would howl at the pages when he died, but I’m seriously hoping that doesn’t happen, and like I said, I’m only on Book 2), a conniving princess, and more court/church politics than you can shake a stick at.
Seriously, kids, this series is shaping up to have all the scope of The Lord of the Rings without all the boring descriptions and songs. I know, somebody just burned their John Hartness Voodoo Doll because I slagged Tolkien. Get over it, I’m sure he doesn’t mind. He’s up there sipping tea with C.S. Lewis saying something about how kids these days don’t appreciate dense prose. Because I don’t. That’s what I really love about Sullivan’s work here – it’s epic fantasy without the epic reader workload. These books are fast, engaging reads, perfect for people like me who enjoy David Eddings, Mercedes Lackey and Raymond Feist.
So go buy it already, it’s five bucks for the first book and is well worth it. You can also get his books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and his website, where you can order analog editions autographed right to you, which is kind of a brilliant idea and I will almost certainly steal it.
I’m not going to get all book-reviewer and do some formal star rating, but if I did, this series would absolutely get five stars, and more to the point – it gets my money. I can’t give a higher recommendation than to say this – as soon as I finished Book 1, I immediately bought Books 2 & 3. And the rest are at the top of my Amazon wish list!