Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

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There’s no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just unlikely heroes and classic adventure. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are two enterprising rogues who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the murder of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it’s too late.

This is the first book of Riyria Revelations and contains two stories to this great series. I loved the action, the writing, the character development, everything about this book is glorious. I totally see myself re-reading this in the future; multiple times.

I love Michael J. Sullivan’s writing. It’s the right amount of character development, with the right amount of story progression. Plus, the characters in this, Hadrian and Royce, have this special dynamic between the two and they are funny. Maybe not fall out of your chair laughing kind of funny, but you’ll be laughing, not just a little chuckle. Although there are a few chuckles in here too.

While these characters are first introduced in Crown Tower, book 1 of Riyria Chronicles, I would say, you don’t need to read Crown Tower before reading Theft of Swords. Start with whichever book you like. I myself started with Theft of Swords sometime in 2018, then backtracked finally last year and read Crown Tower.

The tension build starts relatively quickly. So buckle up, you’re not going to want to leave these characters for long. Hadrian is a trained warrior, but also has a basically positive view of people. Royce on the other hand has been kicked and beaten, in more ways than one, by anyone and everyone. For Royce, life has been hard. These two outlooks while opposite, lead to some interesting exchanges between the two; and they get into a lot of trouble.

In the first story in the book, Hadrian and Royce take a job to save a young noble from the King. The noble apparently looked at the Queen too long, without realizing it was the Queen he was looking at. The King is unbeatable in a dual, as long as he has his sword. They go to the place where the sword is supposed to be, but instead find the King, murdered. From there, things get crazy and fast.

In the second story, they help a little girl try to save her father. The rest of their family was eaten by a horrible monster who comes out at night. Her father is determined to kill it, except he’s just a farmer with no battle training. He has little hope of actually defeating the monster. His depression from the loss of most of his family has him ignoring his daughter, and he is consumed with the thought and goal to defeat the monster.

This whole thing is 5 stars for me. I loved it. Did not want to put it down. If you haven’t read a Michael J. Sullivan book, try either Crown Tower, or Theft of Swords. If you love epic fantasy, with adventure, some laughs, great dialogue and characters, you will love these books.