This is the start, just the turning of leaves. Winter is still on its way.
Michael J. Sullivan is one of the authors on my auto-buy list. Ever since I’ve finished his Riyria series (both Revelations and Chronicles), I’ve been recommending them to my family and friends either as a gateway to fantasy or as a breath of fresh air amidst all the grimdark fantasy. And in just a short space of a year, I’ve reread all of Riyria and was hungry for more of his stories. Age of Myth was more than up to the task of satisfying my longing. Set in the same world 3,000 years ago, the Legends of the First Empire series is the actual account of the historical events that will eventually lead to the story of our two favourite thieves.
To take a quote from Michael J Sullivan’s recent blog post:
“Age of Myth is a small story that will launch an epic tale that will lay the foundations for a world where in three thousand years two thieves will uncover much of what was lost, but so many more revelations remain to be discovered.”
True to his words, reading about and meeting these heroes and legends that shaped the Elan we know of in Riyria Revelations felt significant even though the story at this point was small in scale. And it all started when two Rhunes dared to venture across the Bern River into the forbidden lands of the Fhrey, leading into events which will change the world forever.
The first one-third of the book had slower pacing as the author took some time to introduce the reader to a more primitive rendition of Elan. However, his improved writing skills made the journey really enjoyable and strangely comforting. There’s a fluidity in how the story was built up with the introduction of key characters with the last third of the book picking up in pace before the book concluded with a gripping climactic scene.
The story was written in a limited third-person perspective of a few main characters. As with the Riyria series, the characters in this book are those you want to know better and with whom you would happily spend lots of your time. The author has this gift of creating compelling and relatable personalities; whether they are likeable or not is a different question. Being able to create realistic and truly odious villains is also an art.
I will like to again commend MJS for his ability to write some of the most amazing female characters ever to grace the pages of any fantasy book. Persephone is the epitome of a woman who is smart, courageous, and yet extremely graceful in her portrayal of such attributes (bear in mind, as the human race was still pretty primitive at that time official female leadership was non-existent). And then there is Arion of the Fhrey, a female Miraliyth who also demonstrated wisdom and quiet inner strength. Last but not least, we have the wild, mystical child, Suri and her wolf, wonderfully wise yet naive at the same time.
Tip: The Death of Dulgath contained an ‘Easter egg’ linked to the characters that we finally meet in this book.
All that said, the best part about reading Age of Myth as a prequel was in identifying the characters that history has since bestowed a legendary status, and learning about their true stories. I loved this book and look forward eagerly to its sequel, Age of Swords.
Review originally written in July 2016.