Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Review: Theft of Swords

Theft of Swords
Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The King is dead.

The Prince is missing.

Two Thieves have escaped.

Blame hovers like the executioner’s axe. The Prince and his Paupers are on the run, hunted by once loyal soldiers. But, the two men he travels with are the best in the business. Royce Melborn, master thief with a past as dark as his mood, and Hadrian Blackwater, veteran swordsman and general do-gooder. Together, Royce and Hadrian work as Riyria, a reputable front for dirty deeds.

Where do they go, when there’s nowhere to run to? Guarding a Prince, paid by a Princess, framed for killing the king…what’s next? The return of an ancient wizard?

There’s no other way to put it, but, there really is such a thing as being in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Michael J Sullivan’s ‘Theft of Swords’ is the culmination of two of his originally self-published novels ‘The Crown Conspiracy’ and ‘Avempartha’, part of his 6-book-long Riyria Revelations series. Orbit picked up the rights and re-published the original 6 as a 3. ‘Theft of Swords’ is an adventure-bound, fantasy romp, with a page-turning plot and punchy delivery.

In ‘Theft of Swords’, Hadrian and Royce are initially hired to steal a nobleman’s sword from the King’s castle. No easy feat for the everyday cut-purse or burglar, but Riyria are known for the daring jobs. Only…things aren’t all as they seem. Thrown into the dungeons for the murder of the king, they are freed by an unlikely ally and paid a King’s ransom (see what I did there?) to spirit the young Prince away. Escaping one prison in search of another, the two Thieves are caught between doing what they’re paid for (a Princely sum! Ok, I’ll quit it now), and doing what’s right.

Hadrian and Royce are a joy to read. They embody the popular growth of what has become known as ‘bromance’. They bicker and they quarrel, they reminisce and they hope…the world is at their feet, and its theirs for the taking, but they have to decide which way to head first. Royce is your archetypical sullen grouch, with a history he’s none too willing to let on to, but one that has shaped him into a thief or world renowned skill. Hadrian is a veteran swordsman, having fought in countless battles, at the head of armies or in the back streets. The minor characters are also a joy, fully fleshed and breathing. They’re a joy to read about.

Sullivan writes with a simple yet speedy approach. It’s refreshing. The plot comes think and fast, the action sharp, the dialogue witty. The characters sold the stories to me, and how they exist and interact within the realm is a further testament to the immersion of the book(s). It’s nice to have a break from the ‘return of the ancient evil’ plot, or the ‘invasion of enemy forces’. Two friends, too many enemies, tonnes of adventure.

I have to say, I DEVOURED the series. I loved them. They were so easy to read, and I don’t doubt that I’ll re-read them before long. I smiled the entire way through, and they’re short and snappy enough to be read in furtive glances between stops on the London Underground train. There’s something for everyone with Riyria.

In a game of Hide and Seek, does a thief hide in the shadows, or seek the gold? Find out in ‘Theft of Swords’!

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