Book Review: Farilane (The Rise and Fall, #2) by Michael J. Sullivan

Book Review: Farilane (The Rise and Fall, #2) by Michael J. Sullivan

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Cover art illustrated by Marc Simonetti

Farilane by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Rise and Fall (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 440 pages (Hardcover edition)

Published: 7th June 2022 by Grim Oak Press (Self-published)

Farilane is a great sequel to Nolyn with guaranteed huge emotional ramifications if you’ve read every book in the world of Elan before reading this.

“Virgil… life is a gamble, my friend. The trick is to wager wisely, balancing risk against reward.”

This will probably be a shorter review than usual. Not because I did not like Farilane, but because this is a relatively short novel, and this is technically the eighteenth novel in the world of Elan. I have mentioned several times that none of the books in Legends of the First Empire, except Age of War, managed to reach the high quality of the best books in The Riyria series. But similar to Age of War, Farilane is pretty damn close. It is undoubtedly one of Michael J. Sullivan’s finest books, and I have read everything he wrote in the world of Elan, with the exception of the upcoming Esrahaddon. Yes, I have read all eighteen published books in Elan. It felt like I was struck by Bibliomania (a symptom of book madness in this book) when it came to reading Sullivan’s books. And it cannot be denied this is one of the most comfortable fantasy worlds to visit.

“The sad part is… the more we learn, the less magic there is in the world, and the less enchanting life becomes.”

Farilane is the second book in The Rise and Fall trilogy by Michael J. Sullivan. The story follows Farilane, an unwanted twin in the imperial line of succession who becomes a scholar, an adventurer, and—in a time when reading is forbidden—a hunter of books. Her singular obsession is finding the mythical Book of Brin, a tome not just lost but intentionally buried. Although she is respected and beloved by the Teshlor Knights, not even their legendary skills can protect her, for what she finds is more dangerous than what she sought.

Yes, The Book of Brin. If you have read my review of Nolyn, you know what I will say next, right? As always, although Farilane works as a standalone story, please do not start your journey in the world of Elan here. At the very least, as I said, read the six books in Legends of the First Empire first. I mentioned before that Nolyn, the first book in The Rise and Fall trilogy, essentially worked as a sequel to Age of Empyre. And Farilane proved this notion further. If you have read Legends of the First Empire, or even just the first book in that series, you will know what The Book of Brin is. Reading Farilane actually will spoil a LOT of major events in Legends of the First Empire as well. So I really can’t advise anyone to read The Rise and Fall trilogy without reading Legends of the First Empire first.

“Events must fall a certain way. Some of those incidents, like this one, need to unfold in a precise manner and at an exact time to prevent disaster. A series of awful things must occur to make way for a future good. Like a forest fire that clears old trees for new growth.”

I gave this suggestion isn’t merely for the sake of understanding everything going on in the interconnected world of Sullivan’s series. I believe that would require two or more read-through of all the books in the world of Elan. But it is to ensure you have the best first-time reading experience of Farilane as much as possible. This is an emotional story about sacrifice, legacy, passion, love, and leadership. And in Farilane, there were many nods and continuations to everything that happened in Legends of the First Empire and Nolyn. A LOT. Many of these events and crossings will lose their significance if you jump into Farilane as your first read. More importantly, I believe Sullivan delivered one of the most iconic and heavy scenes I’ve ever read out of all his books. There was a blizzard scene here, and it was insanely emotional and impactful if you get the meaning and symbolism behind that one scene. I am 100% confident the emotional impact of this chapter will be diminished if you haven’t read at least Legends of the First Empire. In fact, as Robin said at the end of the book, that blizzard scene would be so much more devastating if you have read The Riyria Revelations, too.

“She’d never known an adventure that started wonderfully to end the same way. She had a theory that the start of a journey was inversely proportionate to the outcome. The better it began, the worse it finished. Judging by the sky and the breeze, she could guess that this was going to be a nightmare.”

But I want to make it clear. These Easter Egg connections were not the only strong factor of Farilane. They are crucial but not the only magnificent points of the novel. To put it simply, Farilane is a wonderful character, and the relationships she formed with the few people she cared about, like Virgil, the Teshlor Knights, and Kile, were incredibly heartwarming to see. Speaking of Kile, he is one of the most important characters in the entire Elan universe. And you will know who he is if you have read either The Riyria Revelations or Legends of the First Empire. I was surprised to see how much substantial development and motivation were shed upon Kile in this book. This was one of the great things about this book. Farilane is a relatively small novel. The hardcover I read is less than 300 pages long, and the word count is about 110,000 words long, but many important topics and developments are packed into it. Farilane’s passion for literature and reading shined brightly; it was easy to like and relate to. And the way she tries to push the people she cares about from her to avoid the inevitable heartbreak that may come due to her longer age of living is empathizing. Although the name Farilane is not often mentioned in the world of Elan due to credible reasons in the narrative, her journey here will be one I remember for many years.

“There are reasons, of course, justifications that sound just and sensible when spoken, but the heart doesn’t understand arguments. Mine doesn’t. All I can offer is this: Don’t allow being a princess to become a burden or a chain. Forget being proper. Do what you like. Wait on nothing. Listen to no one. Go out into the world and live each day to the fullest. Be adventurous. Be reckless. Defy everyone. Then when your last day finally comes, you can take solace in a life well lived and regret nothing.”

I cannot say much more than this. I believe the rest should be experienced yourself for maximum rewards. I have only one more book left in The Rise and Fall trilogy to read, and so far, this trilogy has been giving me much joy and satisfaction. One of my criticisms of Age of Empyre was how the book felt inconclusive and anti-climactic as a final installment, especially coming from someone of Sullivan’s caliber. But Nolyn and Farilane have been giving some needed continuations and closure to the character’s arc in Legends of the First Empire. Many fans have said Farilane is one of Sullivan’s best works, and I cannot disagree. Emotional, impactful, and unforgettable. As I post this review, Farlane currently has a 4.59 average rating out of 2.7k ratings. It is impressive! It filled me with excitement, considering how much I enjoyed Farilane already, that many fans of the series further voiced that Esrahaddon topped Farilane and all the books in Legends of the First Empire. I will be reading Esrahaddon next month, and as a fan of The Riyria books, you can bet that I am extensively enthusiastic, more than all the other books in Legends of the First Empire and The Rise and Fall trilogy, to read it.

“There are moments in time that are incredibly cruel. The worst occur when true greatness begins to bud but is snuffed out before the blossom. You are the star allowed only to flicker briefly in the morning light, erased by the rising sun.”

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

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