“The Crown Conspiracy” by Michael J. Sullivan is part one of his “Theft of Swords: Volume One of the Riyria Revelations”. Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn are a pair of entrepreneurs (or is that thieves?) known as the Riyria. Their reputation precedes them with some but others inexplicably see them as a pair of bumpkins to exploit. An irresistible lure to earn a hefty sum for a minimal expenditure of their skills results in a harrowing and life-threatening imprisonment which rapidly morphs into a charge to kidnap Alric, the newly elevated king of Melengar, and convey him to a legendary prison to speak with an incredibly long-lived wizard named Esrahaddon. Maneuverings by several factions within and without the kingdom may change the ruler before Alric can even be crowned but Hadrian and Royce are determined to honor the vow that they have made to Alric’s sister Arista. Unlikely allies are recruited including a monk with a photographic memory and commoners who have their own grudges against those in power but ultimately it will be their own wits and skills that will be the greatest assets utilized in the struggle for the throne of Melengar.
“Avempartha” is part two of the “Theft of Swords: Volume One of the Riyria Revelations. One of the revelations in this tale is that Riyria is elvish for ‘two’ and aptly describes the pair consisting of Hadrian and Royce. The two are not quite done with the princess Arista from Melengar and the revelations keep unfolding as they get involved in aiding a young girl named Thrace who desperately needs to get into an unassailable tower. Somehow, the pair become entangled in the struggle to save a beleaguered town which is being attacked by a vicious entity that is killing indiscriminately but inevitably they cross paths with both Princess Arista and the wizard Esrahaddon. The intrepid pair also run afoul of the Nyphron Church and its Sentinels who have an agenda that will redistribute power and control into channels that most people never suspect. Life may never be the same for any of them.
A fascinating fantasy tale filled with wonderful feats of heroism and chivalry juxtaposed with unlikely heroes who unabashedly proclaim themselves to be thieves and act accordingly. Royce is purportedly the more ruthless of the two yet fails to restrain his somewhat softhearted partner from performing self-appointed good deeds, no matter what difficulties result from his actions. The tale reads like an entertaining ‘choose your adventure’ story as it takes abrupt turns in action and roles get expanded and redefined but there is never a dull moment. Some of the characters seem to alter their behavior abruptly but hopefully subsequent revelations will justify their actions. Interesting twists and quirky characters keep the action moving in this enjoyable work, looking forward to more remarkable deeds perpetrated by this engaging pair. A very useful glossary in the back of this volume may need to be consulted in order to keep all of the characters and concepts clear.
THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.
Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles--until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.
Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires in order to keep a secret too terrible for the world to know?
And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.
Includes: The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha