Avempartha by Michael Sullivan is the second book in the Riyria Revelation series. It is a follow up to The Crown Conspiracy, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Avempartha is a decent followup but it can no way compare to the first. This book just didn’t have the “oomph” compared to the first and didn’t quite have that magic to hold me over until the very last page. However, as with the first, the writing is excellent. The author truly has a gift in this field of work. While he can’t be compared to other epic fantasy authors in the field, his easy writing and dialogue, although shallow at a few times, can still hold its own. The Riyria series consists of six books with each being a stand alone story on its own (yet some major events carry over to the next). “When a destitute young woman hires Royce and Hadrian to help save her remote village from nocturnal attacks, they are once more drawn into the schemes of the wizard Esrahaddon. While Royce struggles to breech the secrets of an ancient elven tower, Hadrian attempts to rally the villagers to defend themselves against the unseen killer. Once more, what begins with the simple theft of a sword places the two thieves at the center of a firestorm — but this time the outcome could change the future of Elan.”
In the first book, we were introduced to awesome characters such as Royce, Hadrian, Myron, and Prince Alric. Here, in Avempartha, the band is more or less split and we are introduced to Thrace Wood, a young girl who is desperately seeking the help of the two thieves to steal a sword hidden in a mysterious tower in hopes to defeat a creature laying waste on their tiny remote village. We are also introduced to other characters such as Thrace’s father and other members of Dahlgreen village but sadly, many of them are flat and hardly interesting. We do get a little more insight into Saldur but nothing prominent enough to label him a major character yet. I was a little disappointed after reading that the original band has disbanded. Myron especially was an interesting character. However, Royce and Hadrian have instead teamed up with a special dwarf and it will be interesting to see how their relationship will progress in the future. The book also puts a heavy focus on Princess Arista. Let’s just say she’s not that interesting as well. In the first book, she had some intrigue in the beginning because you didn’t know if she was evil or not but afterwards, her character just got stale. She just doesn’t do anything exciting. With Eshrahaddon, I’m sure many readers are just patiently waiting to see just how powerful this wizard is. We do get a glimpse of that power here in Avempartha but I’m sure many are hoping for the wizard to return back to his glory days. Just exactly how is the question.
Story wise, Avempartha takes a major turn from The Crown Conspiracy. Whereas in the first book had the characters traveling from unique destination to destination, here in Avempartha they are rooted down in the remote village of Dahlgreen. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, I thought the author could have used Hadrian and Royce in a better way. They’re suppose to be thieves but I somehow didn’t really get that picture here. Readers who skipped The Crown Conspiracy will also have trouble realizing that fact about them. Although at first I thought the whole thing about slaying a beast with a magical sword was kind of cheap, things do get a bit more interesting once Eshrahaddon entered the picture. While Avempartha can be considered a stand-alone story in its own right, there are still some pieces that fit together in the overall Riyria series. For example, the two surprises you’ll find in the later half of the book concerning Royce and Hadrian sets things rolling for future books of the series.
I like the author’s writing style, especially how he plays out the fight scenes. He doesn’t drag them on for too long and he doesn’t really try anything too flashy or fancy. Everything seems just right for me. Although I have made it clear here that many of the characters are pretty stale, I still haven’t found myself sighing or skipping pages whenever the story reverts back to Princess Arista. Many readers will no doubt find the author’s writing ability a bit shallow but I think it actually works well with this series. I don’t ever think the author intended for the Riyria series to be of epic proportions. What I believe he meant it to be is a short and fun read for readers of all genres. One of the things I mentioned in the first book was the lack of history details concerning both Royce and Hadrian. Here in Avempartha, the author goes into a bit more detail with Royce’s past. We’ll have to wait for Hadrian’s turn.
While I am slightly ever so disappointed with Avempartha, I still believe this is a great fantasy series and I will not stop until I have read all six books. While each book is a stand-alone, I still want the author to at least explain a bit more about Riyria. He does mention what the word means but we don’t actually know much else about it. Hadrian and Royce are a team but we don’t know exactly how it is they ended up together and decided to do what they do. No matter the case though, you can bet I’ll be devouring the next book as soon as I publish this review.
The Riyria Revelation series is actually re-packaged into three books, with each book consisting of two books in the series. Avempartha is actually now called Theft of Swords, which includes that book along with the previous book in the series, The Crown Conspiracy.