Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Heir of Novron is without a doubt one of the most emotional and rewarding re-reads I’ve ever had the chance to experience. But most of all, it’s a book that put together all the things I love about Fantasy and about reading in general: Magic, legends and myths, unforgettable characters, duel scenes, chivalrous and heroic moments and emotions. Lots of emotions.
Just take a moment to look at the book’s dedication…
This book is entirely dedicated to my wife, Robin Sullivan. Some have asked how it is I write such strong women without resorting to putting swords in their hands. It is because of her.
She is Arista
She is Thrace
She is Modina
She is Amilia
And she is my Gwen.
This series has been a tribute to her.
I won’t lie, I read through tears on several occasions. MJS knows how to strike a chord! Despite waving a simple, rather classic Fantasy tale, somewhere along the road, he made you care and ache for his amazing characters so much so every slight, every setback, every failure, every wound and every death felt raw and personal.
Riyria Revelations’ characters will always be the most memorable element of this series for me. I have a fondness for them I rarely felt for other fictional characters. All of them felt real. Strong and vulnerable at the same time. Inspiring, too.
‘More valuable than gold, more precious than life, is mercy bestowed upon he who hast not known its soft kiss.’
Hadrian is still one of my absolute favorite male characters of all times. My humble, kindhearted, fiercely loyal, idealistic and oblivious knight! Or rather what a knight is supposed to be. And let’s not forget “badass” when the situation demands it! Royce, on the other hand, grew slower on me. Probably because I couldn’t understand the way he thought or why he acted the way he did at first. But Michael gave him much depth and his friendship with Hadrian made him into something more than just the brooding, ruthless and broken assassin he was when they first met.
I might have said that the leading duo was the highlight of the series in terms of characterization had I only read the first omnibus. However the female characters and the secondary characters would have soon proved me wrong. If they shone in Rise of Empire, they simply transcended their early development in Heir of Novron. From the kind and gruff palace cook, to the haughty and bratty noble, to the exuberant lady Rochelle, to the famished orphan boys… Every character had room to grow (and did) and every one had something to contribute. I can’t praise MJS enough for his spotless characterization and great, often intense or hilarious character interactions.
“When you expect nothing from the world— not the light of the sun, the wet of water, nor the air to breathe— everything is a wonder and every moment a gift.”
MJS teaches us that no matter where you start, whether you are a street urchin, a mercenary, a thief, a servant, a farmer, a spoiled noble or a mighty, honorable knight, you can always get a second chance and you can always make a difference. And that’s something I will always cherish in Michael’s stories: the positivity, hope, levity and morality he infuses his tales with despite the few dark themes (death, despair, regret, prejudice, genocide…) he handled. I guess it’s in great part due to the presence of Myron who might be one of the most adorable and kind characters I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Every time Myron spoke, or merely appeared, he trailed light and warmth in his wake! <3
“What is the advantage of fear, or the benefit of regret, or the bonus of granting misery a foothold even if death is embracing you? My old abbot used to say, ‘Life is only precious if you wish it to be.’ I look at it like the last bite of a wonderful meal— do you enjoy it, or does the knowledge that there is no more to follow make it so bitter that you would ruin the experience?” […] I’ve learned that the last bite is often the sweetest.”
Before I conclude this already long review, I think it’s important to mention that Heir of Novron’s awesomeness isn’t only tied to its characters. The plot in both Wintertide and Percepliquis was engaging, fast-paced and filled with inspired and inspiring speeches, court intrigues, dangerous creatures and magic, cleverly woven myths, history and a few wondrous places (the starry cavern, the underground water, a forgotten city…). Some of my friends even described Percepliquis as being evocative of the Fellowship of the Ring and I think the analogy is totally fitting.
“Happiness comes from moving toward something. When you run away, ofttimes you bring your misery with you.”
I could drone on and on about how amazing this book is but I’ll just tell you that perseverance is so worth the effort with this series. If you weren’t impressed with Theft of Swords, then please don’t let that deter you from finishing the series! Give Rise of Empire a try and you won’t regret it. Every book is so exquisitely better than its predecessor. True, Riyria is a pretty simple and classic Fantasy tale and all fantasy elements are small variations of classical ones. And yet, it’s a delight to read because MJS claimed them and gave them a modern tone, and lots of humor and heart.