Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for Age of Myth, Book 1 of The Legends of the First Empire by Michael J. Sullivan.
Age of Swords is the second book in Michael J. Sullivan’s Legends of the First Empire series. It takes place in the world of Elan, the same universe as Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles, and tells the story of how humanity established its first empire. Legends change in the telling, and in the 3000 years between this series and the Riyria stories, many of the events you think you know might have occurred far differently than you’d think.
The story picks up shortly after the ending of Age of Myth. The Fhrey decide to deal harshly with the humans but are undecided as to whether a full-scale war is necessary. A good portion of Mawyndulë’s storyline follows his attempt to navigate the politics of the
A good portion of Mawyndulë’s storyline follows his attempt to navigate the politics of the Fhrey. He’s driven by his desire to be taken seriously by his elders and hurt the Rhune for killing his mentor. Meanwhile, the humans struggle to determine who should be the ruler of all ten clans, since they realize they need to be united against the Fhrey if they are going to survive. The humans’ stone weapons are no match for the bronze blades of the
Meanwhile, the humans struggle to determine who should be the ruler of all ten clans, since they realize they need to be united against the Fhrey if they are going to survive. The humans’ stone weapons are no match for the bronze blades of the
The humans’ stone weapons are no match for the bronze blades of the Fhrey. In a desperate gamble, Persephone leads a small band of her trusted companions across the sea to the home of the Dhirg (dwarves) in search of stronger weapons.
After finishing the book, there’s a slight sense of “that was it?” when it comes to the plot. Age of Swords relies more on exploring the core characters and the world. Given that the next book in the series is named Age of War, one of the main goals of this installment was to make sure all the pieces were in place.
The previous book seemed to center around Persphone, Raithe, Suri, and Arion. All of these characters still play a major role in this book, but we get to explore Mawyndulë, Brin, Roan, and Gilford in far more detail than we saw before. Sullivan manages to make Mawyndulë simultaneously infuriating beyond belief and somehow sympathetic. We finally get to see Brin start working towards what will eventually become the Book of Brin. Roan and Gilford are beautifully written. Roan continues to struggle to connect with people around her, despite her brilliant mind. Gilford is heartbreakingly adorable and one of the most enjoyable characters in the series.
We finally get to see Brin start working towards what will eventually become the Book of Brin. Roan and Gilford are beautifully written. Roan continues to struggle to connect with people around her, despite her brilliant mind. Gilford is heartbreakingly adorable and one of the most enjoyable characters in the series.
There are also new characters introduced, most notably three dwarves. Unfortunately, they fell a little flat for me. I got the feeling they could have been complex, intriguing characters if they only got more page time, but what you actually get to see is a bit one-dimensional.
The story is roughly divided into three plot lines: the Fhrey, the ten clans, and Persephone’s journey to the dwarves. As you might expect given the title of the book, Persephone’s plot line gets the most attention. I thought it was the most interesting though, since it answered questions from the original Riyria series, explored the world of the dwarves for the first time in any Michael J. Sullivan book, and had the most action.
The other plot lines were interesting but much slower. While necessary to advance the overarching story of the series–the conflict between Rhune and Fhrey–there were parts that felt like a drag. I found myself wishing that we’d get back to Persephone’s storyline. However, that’s not to say that these were boring. Far from it. I just preferred the “adventure” storyline more.
Overall, I had a ton of fun reading this book. It wasn’t without its flaws, but I couldn’t put it down. Sullivan delivered a solid book–not that that should surprise anyone by now–and it left me eager to pick up the sequel.
For those of you who enjoy audiobooks, Tim Gerard Reynolds once again delivered a stellar performance. Age of Swords was even dedicated to Tim, which I thought was a nice touch.
Cups Rating System
These days, a series has to really hook my interest for me to read past the first book. Any book that gets a Coffee’s Cups review is a book that I greatly enjoyed and will happily recommend.
That said, I’m trying to use the full range of 1-5 cups. If a book gets a 1 in any category, it’s because I thought that was a somewhat weak point in an otherwise excellent read.