Read an early copy of the ebook as a Kickstarter backer
Artwork by Marc Simonetti
Esrahaddon by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Series: The Rise and Fall (Book 3 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy, classic fantasy
Publication date: 15th August 2023 (ebook) and 5th December 2023 (hardcover) by Riyria Enterprises, LLC.
Esrahaddon was the stunning final piece in the puzzle that masterfully connected all the stories that had been told in the world of Elan.
If you’ve been following my reviews for awhile, you might be aware that I’m a huge and ardent fan of Sullivan’s books, with Riyria Revelations being one of my all-time favourite series. I’ve read all of these stories set in the world of Elan in order of publication. I think there are pros and cons between starting with Riyria Revelations or Riyria Chronicles first, with highly character-focussed readers likely to find reading the first two books of Chronicles helping tremendously in getting themselves invested in the two main characters. However, I absolutely believe that The Legends of the First Empire (“Legends”) and The Rise and Fall series need to be read in order of publication for the optimum reading experience and enjoyment.
Esrahaddon was the most highly anticipated bridge book that was supposed to connect what had come before and that which came after in all the published works set in the world of Elan. And not only did it managed to succeed in doing so, it did so magnificently. A lot of the revelations and truths that came forth were astounding. I can honestly and easily call this my favourite non-Riyria book. This was the biggest single book that Sullivan has written, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I even wanted it to be longer, because I couldn’t bear to finish and part with such beloved characters. Plus, on top of that, the dreaded ending that I knew was coming. Fortunately, what happened next, albeit not for another 900 years, was already written (and read).
Esrahaddon as the eponymous character was intriguing and fun as I hoped he would be. His backstory was enlightening, as we finally got to know more about that one race that was least understood in this world. It was also unexpectedly more emotional than my first impressions would have allowed me. Then we have Jerish and Nevrik, whose introductions got me incredibly excited, and their characterisations were so great that I fell in love with them from the moment they appeared.
It is hard for me to write much more because it would spoil both or either of those who have not read Legends or Riyria. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? This is classic fantasy told in a modern voice that is one of the best out there right now. It’s so accessible, with unlikely heroes and redemption being the biggest themes represented across the storytelling narrative. I loved all these books so much because there’s just so much heart in it. As an emotional reader, they’re immensely satisfying, as well as heartbreaking when it’s time to leave at the end.
The entire arc revealed at this point highlighted Sullivan’s impressive plotting skills. It’s so difficult for me to actually mentioned about the core overarching premise across all these books without spoilers. I would say that what was at stake in the background was more epic that one could have realised by just reading either one of the series mentioned above. If you’ve read most of Sullivan’s books, you would know that singularly most fascinating character that always made an appearance. Even though we got to know more of and about him in Legends,this book gave us even more insights into what he is really trying to do. And that is all I can say without giving too much away (in fact, I’m a bit worried that I’ve already said too much).
However, the key strength of Sullivan’s books has been, and will always be, his characters. I’ve never failed to love, or despise (where appropriate), the characters in his stories. I’ve never failed to feel at a loss when I had to part with them. And I’ve never failed to feel like I was coming home when I reread his books. These fictional people will forever have a place in my heart, and I’ve kept returning and rereading these books mainly because of them. Armed with the insights that I have now after Esrahaddon, I know that rereading Riyria is going to be a different experience, and I’m so looking forward to doing so. Yes, even though I’ve already read that series four times now!