“Rise of Empire” by Michael J. Sullivan is the second of his two book volumes in the ‘Riyria Revelations’ series. In the first book of this volume, “Nyphron Rising”, Hadrian and Royce are being employed by the kingdom of Melengar to obtain information about the Empire and its plans which seem to include the annexation of Melengar. Hadrian is questioning his life and its purpose and Royce is risking their 12 years of partnership by withholding certain details from him. Gradual details about the Heir of Novron are being revealed and are difficult to interpret. The newly acclaimed Empress has been renamed Modina and the personality by which she was formerly known as Thrace has been completely subjugated. The church is freely making changes in the name of the Empress who is not only a figurehead but has become an apathetic figure incapable of defending herself. A new Empire is being sculpted and Melengar is the only kingdom of Avryn that is steadfastly refusing to join or be swallowed. A scullery maid named Amilia strives to find a way to improve Modina’s condition even as the princess named Arista finds herself failing at her own duties of being an ambassador for her brother the king of Melengar. Arista begins to explore the limits to her powers as Hadrian and Royce accept her company for her unsanctioned trip to Ratibor. Little does she realize the key role she is destined to fulfill. The world around her is changing but Arista has her own role to play in effecting some of those changes.
“The Emerald Storm” is the second book in this volume which finds Arista burdened with yet another impossible task even as she continues to refine her powers. The intrepid princess strikes out on her own journey which will take her deep into enemy territory yet again. Royce and Hadrian resume their partnership to follow up on clues that implicate a former colleague and enemy of Royce’s. Their journey takes them on a ship that travels to distant lands where even more of Hadrian’s past is revealed while Royce’s future is threatened. Allies and enemies surround them and it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. Startling events are sprinkled throughout the story which ends with quite a twist and continues to intrigue the reader with glimpses of the answers to various mysteries.
An entertaining addition to the tales of the intriguing pair of mercenaries with plenty of ‘Revelations’ about their backgrounds. The adventures get more fantastical even as they still continue the ongoing theme of the search for the fabled heir of Novron. There are quite a few unexpected twists which alter the direction of the story and characters appear and disappear in a sometimes frustrating manner. The author seems to delight in disrupting preconceived notions of where the story should travel which gives an entertaining freshness to the storyline. The books convey the suspense that used to be characteristic of the Saturday matinee cliffhangers which kept fans breathlessly waiting for the next chapter. A fun read that makes one want to read even more adventures of the intrepid pair known as Riyria.
Royce and Hadrian have been called upon to aid the struggling kingdom of Melengar as it alone stands in defiance against the newly formed empire. As war approaches a desperate gamble behind enemy lines is their only chance at forming an alliance with the Nationalists to the south.
But Royce has plans of his own and uses this opportunity to discover if an ancient wizard is using Riyria as pawns in his own bid for power. To find the truth, Royce must unravel Hadrian's hidden past. What he discovers will lead them to the end of the known world on a journey rife with treachery and intrigue.
And so continues the second tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.
Includes: Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm