The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter by Michael J Sullivan

(8.0/10) A fantastic tale told with the trademark class that only Michael J Sullivan brings to the table

Michael J Sullivan is, simply put, one of the best writers writing today. But his story is unlike so many others (and again, so very similar).

Sullivan wrote for years but got nowhere with agents. He then wrote six stories and self-published them. They were then picked up by a publisher and published as three books (each with two stories each). Then he wrote more, but these new stories were whole books, and set years before the original books. Then he wrote more books, but these were set thousands of years before the books he had already written.

Now he’s written a new book, and self-published it again, but this book is set back before the first three books (which were actually six stories) but after the next ones he wrote but which were set before the first three (six), and thousands of years after the next ones he wrote.
Needless to say, despite how much I love Sullivan, I found myself swimming in the deep end for a few chapters when I first started reading The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter. I couldn’t remember how old Royce and Hadrian were supposed to be in this book.

I quickly found my feet, however, and rejoiced in being reunited with two of my favourite characters (so much so that I’ve begun rereading Theft of Swords). This particular series (the Riyria Chronicles) are set in the early days of their partnership, Royce and Hadrian are therefore still in the “getting to know you” stage of their relationship and are coming to terms with one another’s eccentricities.

The story centres around the disappearance of a particular noble whose father wants revenge for her supposed death – lots and lots of revenge. Royce is obviously pleased about this possibility, but Hadrian holds out hope that it’s actually a rescue mission instead. Obviously, twists and turns quickly tip this story on its head and by the end of the book an entire city has been upended by Royce and Hadrian.

The interesting characters we meet along the way – some who may sound familiar, and others who will never appear again – are beautifully crafted and bring their own quirks and personalities to an already rich tapestry. The city of Rochelle is an odd place – but, then again, eerily similar to some of today’s societal trends. In this Sullivan doesn’t hit you over the head with subtle societal critiques, but rather uses today’s absurd treatment of one another as fodder for a fascinating city with its own unique currents and eddies.

The primary story was wonderfully fun, rollicking and fast-paced, tricky and clever. Sullivan has a knack for writing both wonderful characters – both large and small – but also for crafting a twisting and turning mystery that takes until the last chapters of the book to resolve. Sullivan should never give up writing Royce and Hadrian stories, for he has created two characters who, even if they were to spend an entire book bickering over the Medford aristocracy, are eminently and everlastingly entertaining and enjoyable.

I will say this, however. This is the first time that I thought Sullivan tried to fit too much into a book. It is a small thing, barely noticeable throughout the book, but enough that, by the time you close the final page, there are certain threads left hanging that seemed to be related but in fact, weren’t. A POV character simply disappears towards the end of the book, and a thread which Sullivan introduces for the potential of a future story only served to muddy the water of his main mystery. In the end, I wonder whether the confused ending was the result of trying to weave too many strands together.

That, however, is a minor point in the overall scheme of the book. The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter may not be as tight as The Death of Dulgath but it is nevertheless in good and close company. I can’t help but simply want more of Royce and Hadrian, and the world that Sullivan has painted leaves me ever intrigued by the various factions and intrigues. For Sullivan readers new and old, Winter’s Daughter is a fantastic tale told with the trademark class that only Michael J Sullivan brings to the table.

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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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All reviews for Michael J Sullivan's The Ryria Chronicles series

The Crown Tower

The Ryria Chronicles #1 written 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 [...]

Published: 0000

Our rating: 8.5 | positive reader reviews

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The Rose and the Thorn

The Ryria Chronicles #2 written 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 [...]

Published: 0000

Our rating: 8.5 | positive reader reviews

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The Death of Dulgath

The Ryria Chronicles #3 written 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 [...]

Published: 2015

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

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The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter

The Ryria Chronicles #4 written 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 [...]

Published: 2017

Our rating: 8.0 | positive reader reviews

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More Michael J Sullivan reviews

Age of Myth

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 [...]

Series: Legends of the First Empire #1
Published: 2016

Score: 80

Our rating: 8.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Age of Swords

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 [...]

Series: Legends of the First Empire #2
Published: 2017

Score: 80

Our rating: 8.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Age of War

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 [...]

Series: Legends of the First Empire #3
Published: 2018

Score: 100

Our rating: 10.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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Age of Legend

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 [...]

Series: Legends of the First Empire #4
Published: 2019

Score: -2

Our rating: 8.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

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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

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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

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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

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