The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Riyria Chronicles (Book #3)
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Published: 3rd November 2015 by Riyria Enterprises (self-published)
It should come as no surprise that I absolutely loved The Death of Dulgath, which was just as good if not even better upon reread.
Aside from Sanderson, I have one other major fictional addiction, and that is Riyria. I could never get enough of reading about the duo of Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn, and have read The Riyria Revelations and the first two books of The Riyria Chronicles three times.
The first time I read The Death of Dulgath was before I’ve read The Legends of the Empire series and Nolyn, the first book of the latest Rise and Fall trilogy. Rereading this book after the aforementioned, made it even better because Sullivan seeded so many references and Easter eggs to the chronologically earlier works.
This is what I found so incredible about reading and rereading these books, particular in the order which I did it. The way Sullivan weaved the myths and history of Elan across such a vast expanse of time (we’re talking 3000 years here between the first book of Legends to the ending of Revelations) was truly remarkable and made for the most engaging read. As a reader who has followed all the books in publication order, I felt that I was given this special privilege access to the inside story of the real events and people who changed the world.
That alone made the stories fascinating. However, what made the journey truly compelling were the characters that fronted these stories. I’ve said it time and again, Sullivan is a master of characterisation and his characters make up the true beating heart of his stories. And his best creations are undoubtedly, Hadrian and Royce.
The Death of Dulgath was yet another prequel done right. As with all the prequel novels in Chronicles, these books have more focussed plotline and fewer POVs, which means loads more of my favourite fantasy duo. In fact, this title was the first true stand-alone prequel book in the Chronicles series, as first two books collectively formed the origins story of how Riyria came to be.
The relationship between Hadrian and Royce had settled down a bit more, but their opposite personalities were still relatively untempered by each other, as compared to when we met them in Revelations. As such, it was really fascinating to see the changes slowly taking shape, especially in Royce – the one half of the duo that was kept at an arm’s length for most of the Riyria books. If you’ve always wanted to know more about Royce, this book will offer lots of insights into this complex and grey character. It’s also especially endearing to see how protective Royce was over Hadrian. Speaking of the loveable, talkative and gullible Hadrian, who wears his heart on this sleeve, how I adore him.
As a huge fan of these two characters, any story of them was sure to please. However, what made this book even better was that Sullivan managed to introduce new characters that were also captivating in their own right, as well as a villain that was one of the most detestable I’ve encountered. What made it even more amazing was that he managed to do all that in a book that was less than 500 pages long – a tightly plotted story that gave us great and consistent character development in Hadrian and Royce, as well as fleshing out new compelling character in one utterly enjoyable package.
I’ll repeat my heartfelt request to Michael J Sullivan – put me down for ‘More, please!”
P/S: Cover art by the amazing Marc Simonetti. Just look at the stunning full wrap-around artwork.