The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan and why it is the BEST fantasy series EVER!

Riyria Revelations book covers
Riyria Revelations book covers

Let us start with the two main characters, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater. Both are the best sort of characters one might ever wish to come across in a fantasy series.

Royce, a former member of the Black Diamond and Assassin, is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle surrounded by dead people who looked like they might one day be in the way. Or because they breathed, looked like they were up to something, or for any reason really. Royce has issues about not killing people.

Hadrian, on the other hand, is a open book who just might kill you. But unlike Royce he will feel bad about it afterwards and maybe even say sorry. The son of a small town’s Blacksmith, Hadrian is a Swordsman of great skill and in certain parts of Calis a rather famous one. He and Royce in the beginning somehow manage to not kill each other and one day become what one could even call friends. Although like all people they get on each others nerves once in a while.

There is a continual banter between them and it brings a feeling of being in  a group of old friends telling stories and having a good time. This feeling endeared me as a reader to the characters even in their unlikable moments. Which is something that, as a reader, I can’t always say. While the back and forth banter (and I just have to say this, some of the best lines I have read in a series for a long time) is a major part of why this series works, it is not the best part.

The best part is the plot. Now most of the time with fantasy series you know what is going to happen… We all know the chosen one will save the day! Or in some cases, when the author feels like thinking out of the box, dies.

But while this series is classic high fantasy with lost heirs and ancient empires there was something new about how it was told. It isn’t just the same old story of the poor boy who finds out he really is the chosen one, but it is the story of two lost peoples lives as they try their best to make some sense of it all an just happen to be the the hero’s of the tale. This, I think, is one of the things that changes it from being the same old thing. How the characters are portrayed, they are not the forced flawed of really unlikable characters (The Broken Empire) nor the simple simplicity of a farm lad thrown into a to big a world (Wheel of Time) they are simple two people who have had a lot of bad things happen and are now making there flawed and criminally angled away through life.

It all starts when they are framed for the death of the king. Which is funny as it is about the only crime they haven’t committed (although they were there because they were hired to steal something). After being framed the Princess Arista frees them and hires them to kidnap her brother, the new king of Melengar, as his life is also in danger. This sets them on a path to discovering who actually killed the king and a plot that has been centuries in the making.

Not to spoil anything, but I think I can safely say that secrets are uncovered about a true heir to the throne of Novron, they discover stuff about their own pasts, they battle ancient enemies and a few new ones and many other exciting things that as I said I can’t really talk about. This is a tale of history, of two guys just trying to not get killed and some really bad people who just can’t let go of the past. Or power. I think it is more about the power…


But Sullivan did more than just write one of the greatest epic fantasy series in years he did something with this series that was different and what many series fail to do. He managed to surprise me with the ending. This is harder to do than you might know, but he did it. Right until the last chapter I thought the story was going in one direction, and just like that, out of the blue, there was a plot twist that I just did not see coming. And it was not like some last minute plot twists you sometimes see that doesn’t make sense; no, as soon as the last chapter came around the whole series just clicked into place. It was like that moment when you are doing a puzzle and suddenly you can see what the picture is.

It was the moment that took a great series into the halls of Fantasy Fame. If you love a good series that has some great banter between characters as well as just some really kick-ass fight scenes then this is the series for you!

The Revelations series consists of:

  1. Theft of Swords (contains The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha)
  2. Rise of Empire (contains Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm)
  3. Heir of Novron (contains Wintertide and Percepliquis)

There are now three prequels as well, and surprisingly they are are just as good as the original series!

  1. The Crown Tower
  2. The Rose and the Thorn
  3. The Death of Dulgath


Review Series

6 thoughts on “The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan and why it is the BEST fantasy series EVER!

  1. This is really interesting. Looking forward to read it while waiting for Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin. One question, to what degree is magic involved in the story? And mythological beings e.g. dragons, sphinxes etc.? On a scale of 0-10 how would you rate the magical involvement in plot?

    • It is very low fantasy with there being only a few none human races, the elves, and a few others but they don’t ever actually use magic or have any magic (long life is it and they have no say in that) and they are not really active within the plot. The plot is very much just about the events that transpire after the death of the king and what was behind it and the part that Royce and Hadrian have it all of it.

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