Book Review: Age of Death (The Legends of the First Empire, #5) by Michael J. Sullivan

Book Review: Age of Death (The Legends of the First Empire, #5) by Michael J. Sullivan

Cover art illustrated by Marc Simonetti

Age of Death by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Legends of the First Empire (Book #5 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic fantasy

Pages: 464 pages (Mass Market Paperback)

Published: 4th February 2020 by Grim Oak Press (Self-Published)

With twisted revelations and unpredictable story progression, Age of Death has prepared the big stage for the final book in the series.

“Education is never without cost; all the truly valuable lessons leave a scar.”

Age of Death is the penultimate installment in the Legends of the First Empire series by Michael J. Sullivan. And honestly speaking, this is not my favorite installment in the series. Similar to the previous books, the entirety of the narrative felt almost thoroughly compelling. Continuing from where the last cliffhanger in Age of Legend, almost the entirety of Age of Death takes place in two settings. If you can call it two, really. Seriously, writing a review for this book as spoiler-free as possible is actually annoying to do. Not only Age of Death did not progress much of the main storyline, but a myriad of events in this book is impossible to discuss without heavily spoiling the book. Even talking about the actual setting of the narrative itself is a spoiler. This is why my review for this book has been postponed for quite a while, unlike usual. So, there are only two ways to do this. One, to repeat what I said already in my review of the previous books like a broken record. And second, to shorten the length of this review. Look, if you’ve read this book, you will know why it is so hard to review this particular installment as spoiler-free as possible.

“Few can accept the value of something given, but something earned is cherished.”

If you have reached Age of Death, I think it is safe to assume that you will enjoy reading this book, too. The title of the book is aptly named. And it’s impressive how, with each book in the series, Sullivan continuously developed the characters effectively. Age of Death did not progress much of the main story, but characterizations and development-wise, there’s no shortage of them in this book. The facade and complexities of the characters I loved and hated are laid bare mercilessly. Despair, finding hope, trust, redemption, and sacrifice; these themes were constantly explored in the narrative. And it is easy for me to say the characters and their constant internal battle and struggle were my favorite parts of Age of Death. But there was a bonus, for me anyway. It is the revelations behind the truth of the lore and world-building of the Legends of the First Empire and also The Riyria books.

“Mawyndulë, the best chronicles are never true, not completely. But make no mistake, it is our stories that define us both as individuals and as a civilization. Long after we’re dead, people remember. And those memories form the building blocks of who we are, what we value, what we believe in, what we stand for, and what we fight against. Truth comes from how we view ourselves and how others see us. Our stories are the most important things we have. The better the tales, the greater the legacy we leave, and the more worthy a world we create.”

Some readers of The Riyria books have mentioned how they felt they were lied to completely, and the crucial world-building plus histories are a lie. And they’re not wrong on this. Based on what we get to read in this series, at least half of the world-building and lore we learned in The Riyria books are false. However, remember, this has always been one of the purposes of The Legends of the First Empire series. To show how stories and legends constantly change with each telling and the passage of time. Until they’re close to becoming unrecognizable from their first occurrence. I think Sullivan has nailed this, whether readers like it or not. Personally, I find them very interesting and believable. It is, however, unfortunate that many of these revelations were delivered in an info-dump manner. It was hard for them to stick in my brain.

That’s how life works. As you walk through it, you can’t see the big moments coming at you. Don’t notice them until they’ve gone by. We always see them from the back, never from the front, which presents a distorted perspective. Everything looks different from behind in that wonderful reflective afterglow. Afterward, things consistently appear bigger, more obvious, and we think, How could I not have seen that? But the moments that change our lives are indistinguishable from everything else because they aren’t significant—until they are. Do you understand?”

Though still good, Age of Death is one of my least favorite books in the series. Even though I found all the revelations incredibly interesting, I also felt the book (which is already really short) was longer than it should be. Not much of the main story moved forward, and it’s a bit of shame because Suri’s POV (which moves the story forward) was one of the best sections of the entire book. Once again, going back to the point I mentioned in Age of Legend review, I don’t see how it’s necessary to divide the second half into a trilogy. And yes, Age of Death ended on a massive cliffhanger once again. I think Age of Death was an intriguing penultimate volume in the series. I believe it is a necessary installment needed to make sure the last book could end up being the best of the series. And I have no doubt Sullivan will deliver on that front.

Picture: Age of Death by Marc Simonetti

You can order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Andrew W, Annabeth, Barbara, Casey, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Elias, Ellen, Ellis, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jesse, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Kristina, Lana, Leigh, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Michael, Miracle, Nanette, Neeraja, Nicholas, Radiah, Reno, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Shawn, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *