Age of Legend by Michael J Sullivan

(8.0/10)

As Michael J Sullivan continues to make his way through his increasingly expansive prequel series to the much loved Riyria Revelations and the Riyria Chronicles, we as readers are invited inside the evolution of a story alongside the author as he discovers the many trails and hidden stops along the journey.

Originally intended to be only a trilogy, the series has now expanded to six books – and a subsequent trilogy has been announced that is apparently intended to bridge part of the gap. In Age of Legend, the fourth book of six, we are returned to the lives and fortunes and fate of Rhune and Fhrey and Dherg. The series’ main cast of characters return, for the most part, and secondary characters through the series up to this point begin to take on a greater responsibility.

And through it all is the underlying and pervasive contrast between history as it is being written and history as it is remembered. This has been an integral part of The Legends of the First Empire series – the idea of how historical reality can be twisted by the winners and by time. What Royce and Hadrian “know” as myth and legend and history sometimes bears only little resemblance to the reality of what actually takes place for Persephone, Suri, and Gifford.

I will highlight just two points that detract from this book being on the same plane of excellence as Sullivan’s other books: Firstly, for some reason, I have tremendous difficulty getting into these books. I read a lot, and I read widely, and when I return to a Sullivan book I always feel as if the tone and style of the prose is … lesser than I would wish from a bestselling fantasy author. The flip side of this, however, is that by the third or fourth chapter I’ve left my concerns behind and find myself hooked, line and sinker.

My second critique is a lot less subjective and has to do with what appears to be the stretch marks (so to speak) evident in Age of Legend, resulting from the series morphing from three books into six. In a book with 456 numbered pages, 74 pages consist of bonus material. When you reach the final page, you are not aware of it until you flip the page to find a note from the author. That’s 15% of the book lost.

And it shows. This book, more than any others that I have read by Sullivan, felt lacking – as if an entire storyline was erased, or in this case, a novella-length story which has been dragged, kicking and screaming, into a full length book. To borrow a well-loved quote, it feels “all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” (The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien)

But even though Age of Legend felt a little on the thin side, it was nevertheless a wonderful addition to the series. The story that it presages relies heavily on the work done here, and there are tremendously beautiful nuggets throughout the book. The nuance of Tressa’s character, the burgeoning maturity of Mawyndulë, and the continued maturing of Suri serve as character defining (or potentially defining) themes which tantalise the mind for the final two books of the series.

The mythological scale of what is on the horizon similarly heralds exciting reading ahead, and the subtle religious undertones that have hovered underneath the series so far reach a full-scale revelation as the story comes to a close.

So while I may have minor qualms, they are just that – minor. And maybe, in the same way, that no author is able to maintain a perfect reputation, so too do I think that maybe neither does each new entry in a series have to yield the same heights and depth and intricacy. Stretched and thin, maybe, Age of Legend is nevertheless tremendously compelling, and a continued reminder of Michael J. Sullivan’s breathtaking imagination. 

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Our interview with Michael J Sullivan

Michael J. Sullivan is a full time author whose self published series, The Riyria Revelations, hit the big time selling more than 70,000 copies in a very short time. Picked up by Orbit in the middle of last year just after th [...]

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Age of Legend reader reviews

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All reviews for Michael J Sullivan's Legends of the First Empire series

Age of Myth

Legends of the First Empire #1 written by Michael J Sullivan

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god f [...]

Published: 2016

Our rating: 8.0 | positive reader reviews

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Age of Swords

Legends of the First Empire #2 written by Michael J Sullivan

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co [...]

Published: 2017

Our rating: 8.0 | positive reader reviews

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Age of War

Legends of the First Empire #3 written by Michael J Sullivan

The alliance of humans and renegade Fhrey is fragile - and about to be tested as never before. Persephone keeps the human clans from turning on one another through her iron [...]

Published: 2018

Our rating: 10.0 | positive reader reviews

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Age of Legend

Legends of the First Empire #4 written by Michael J Sullivan

After years of warfare, humanity has gained the upper hand and has pushed the Fhrey to the edge of their homeland but no farther. Now comes the pivotal moment. Persephone&r [...]

Published: 2019

Our rating: 8.0 | positive reader reviews

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More Michael J Sullivan reviews

Theft of Swords

by Michael J Sullivan

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles--until they [...]

Series: The Riyria Revelations #1
Published: 2012

Score: 93

Our rating: 9.0 | 3 positive reader reviews

12+

Rise of Empire

by Michael J Sullivan

War has come to Melengar and once more Royce and Hadrian are hired to make a desperate gamble and form an alliance with the Nationalists whom are fighting the Imperialists [...]

Series: The Riyria Revelations #2
Published: 2014

Score: 72

Our rating: 7.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

Heir of Novron

by Michael J Sullivan

The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists with a day that will never be forgotten. On the high holiday of Wintertide, they plan to execute two t [...]

Series: The Riyria Revelations #3
Published: 0000

Score: 81

Our rating: 8.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

The Crown Tower

by Michael J Sullivan

Two men who hate each other. One impossible mission. A legend in the making. Hadrian, a warrior with nothing to fight for, is paired with Royce, a thieving assassin with no [...]

Series: The Ryria Chronicles #1
Published: 0000

Score: 85

Our rating: 8.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

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The Rose and the Thorn

by Michael J Sullivan

A dear friend is brutally beaten. Two thieves want answers. Riyria is born. One year earlier, two thieves were saved from certain death by the compassion of a stranger. Una [...]

Series: The Ryria Chronicles #2
Published: 0000

Score: 86

Our rating: 8.5 | 1 positive reader reviews

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The Death of Dulgath

by Michael J Sullivan

Three times they tried to kill her. Then a professional was hired. So was Riyria. When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Ri [...]

Series: The Ryria Chronicles #3
Published: 2015

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter

by Michael J Sullivan

A daughter vanishes. Two rogues are paid a fortune to find her. It isn't enough. When Gabriel Winter's daughter mysteriously disappears and is presumed dead, the we [...]

Series: The Ryria Chronicles #4
Published: 2017

Score: 80

Our rating: 8.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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