Sunday, January 1, 2017

Age of Myth Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Legends of the First Empire Book One
Pages: 432

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The Fhrey are Gods of the world they live in, but when a human named Raithe kills one of them, the Fhrey's power is called into question. As human settlements now face the wrath of the people they've called Gods, a chieftain's wife, Persephone, seeks help wherever she can find it, even if it means working with the bizarre seer, Suri.

I've wanted to read Michael Sullivan's Riyria series, but I haven't gotten around to it, so I figured I would give his new project a shot. Sullivan' story definitely resembles the more traditional epic fantasy you would find along the likes of Tolkien, Jordan, and Sanderson. Unlike the last two authors, his magic system is no where near as elaborate. Magic that does occur is oftentimes very powerful, but it takes some more mysterious aspects to its actual workings.

Where Sullivan is strongest is with plotting and making likeable protagonists for you to root for. I may not like Raithe's name, but it's hard not sympathize with his situation as a God killer. His companion Malcolm has a number of comic relief moments even though I wouldn't describe his personality as the comical type. Suri is a young seer that's raised by a witch in the woods, so naturally she has a number of peculiar eccentricities. She also has an intelligent wolf companion named Minna. Persephone is this story's voice of reason, but being a strong woman with ideas is never easy in a patriarchal society. All of the characters are engaged in interesting conflicts, and have a set of staple fantasy strengths. Raithe is a great warrior, Peresphone is a skilled diplomat, and Suri has great magic potential.

On the other side of the story, but with significantly less narration time, are the Fhrey. Arion is a Fhrey that belongs to the Miralyith, the most powerful and magically enhanced sub-group of her race. She is the tutor to the emperor's son Maywndule, who is an impatient student of the "Art." Arion's portions of the story show magic at its most powerful, as well as introduce a number of Fhrey who are interested in using the Miralyith's strengths to obtain and keep power for themselves instead of sharing their knowledge of it with there fellow Fhrey and humans.

Good and bad exist on both human and Fhrey sides, and it allows Sullivan to craft an interesting plot, that even packs in a few surprises. Pacing is quick, and there isn't too many pages between one interesting world reveal or another intense fighting sequence. Where Sullivan struggles with most, and it's what I'm guessing prevented a number of publishers from picking up his books, is the prose. It's not the worst I've come across, but it definitely is the weakest aspect of this story.

If you're able to get past the prose, and you like a more traditional styled epic fantasy, than Age of Myth is a great entry point. It takes place in the same Riyria world, but it doesn't spoil any of those books. As the first entry out of a planned five, I look forward to seeing how this story progresses.

Score: 6.9

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