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Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Nyphron Rising" by Michael Sullivan (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman and Liviu Suciu)

Official Michael Sullivan Website
Order "Nyphron Rising" HERE
Read FBC Review of The Crown Conspiracy
Read FBC Review of Avempartha

INTRODUCTION: In the space of a short year and a half, Michael Sullivan has moved from a small press debut author that featured in one of my first "Indie Spotlight Reviews" to a "name" in the fantasy field who sold-out his first novel and is getting both critical acclaim and fan appreciation.

So much so, that when I was doing my "2009 Remarkable Small Press Reads", I never even thought of including his superb novels there despite that they technically qualified. Instead in my end-of-the-year rankings, Avempartha went head to head against the "big names" and made both my Top 2009 Books list and Cindy's Top 2009 Book list, while The Crown Conspiracy made Mihir's Top 2009 Reads too. If you have not done so, read the series to date in order to see why, while Nyphron Rising is another great addition to it.

FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION: "Nyphron Rising" stands at about 350 pages divided into 17 named chapters that mainly follow our four main POV's: Royce, Hadrian, Arista and Thrace aka Modina. The novel starts with two detailed maps of the world and ends with a line that will only heighten the interest for what's next. While The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha were mostly standalone adventure, though they started putting in place the elements of the "big-picture", "Nyphron Rising" gets into the heart of the main story of the series, starting three main threads that presumably will converge later on.

After the more adventure-like first two installments, the series moves firmly into epic territory here and while the building block nature of the novel means that it will be fully appreciated only together with at least the next installment "The Emerald Storm",
"Nyphron Rising" moves the series toward the top-line of current fantasy offerings.

ANALYSIS/Cindy: Something about Michael Sullivan's writing has intrigued me from the start. I have been captivated with this series ever since the first two books came out. Nyphron Rising was something I was looking forward to for a while. I had really high expectations for this book, however it's a bit "out of the box" from the other two novels in this series.

Michael Sullivan is a masterful storyteller. The world and action that he has build up in his series is amazing. What's even more amazing is that it was done without having to make the book 600+ pages. Like all great storytellers at some point there has to be a step back from all the action and quest hopping to focus on a major key element in a series: the characters. Nyphron Rising is that book in the series that steps back and develops characterization in favor of a bunch of action sequences.

At first glance it might appear a bit odd that a middle novel would focus upon going back and looking at where the main characters come from and look further into the background that was hinted at within the first two novels, but it oddly fits with the series. If the series focused on non stop action there would be a lack of characterization. if characterization was focused on there would be a lack of action. It seems appropriate that after two up front novels there would be a calmer setting to the third book.

I look at Nyphron Rising almost like a bridge to the other novels to come in this series. It's a bit more toned down as far as action but very important to the series. It builds up the characters, yet at the same time starts paving the way for the future novels. While at first glance it might not seem important without it the series wouldn't hold up as well as it does without this type of novel.

Sullivan does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters from the information readers were presented with in the first two novels, yet is able to move the story along without it appearing the plot is growing stale. In a way this approach has made me even more attracted to this series as I can truly say this has all the elements to make it an epic fantasy series.

Although the Riyria Revelations is built up as a group of stand alone novels with common threads. It really is best to have read the first two novels as I don't feel a reader can fully appreciate what is going on or the build up for some of the plots. There are thread lines that have just started and are not resolved so in my eyes it's at the point where it could no longer be a stand alone.

Since the bar was set so high with the first two books it might appear as though Nyphron Rising doesn't match up to the previous two books, but that isn't the case at all. It just takes a different approach then the previous novels. This novel is still just as much of a page turner and attention grabbing as the other two. The events in this book have set me up to wait anxiously for the next book. I can't wait to see what happens and where Michael Sullivan will take his readers.

Liviu's short take
: In hindsight I realize that I failed to fully appreciate Nyphron Rising the first time because it took the series to a different place than I expected after Avempartha which now reads more like a standalone as The Crown Conspiracy was; Nyphron Rising finally starts the maneuvers at the heart of the big-picture in the series and on re-read, a lot is much clearer; while the Thrace/Modina thread is not fully formed and Royce and Hadrian have more of an exploratory/back-story role here, though of course they have an adventure or two, the one following Arista is just superb and the ending line of the novel is for the ages.


Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I do have to agree with you on this book. It really has taken the series to the next level and really kept me wanting to keep going. I found it hard to find a stopping point some times. I am excited for The Emerald Storm now.

As much as these books could be read as standalones, I think you get so much more from them by reading them in order.

Susan Parker said...

Just wanted to stop by and mention that the second book in the series ...Avempartha made it to round 2 of the Bookspot Central's annual tournamnet of books (A March Madness type of bracket where books face off one on one).

So if you read Avempartha and liked it please go to and vote.

And if you read it and also Finch by Jeff VanderMeer and liked Finch better ... forget I said anything ;-) -- just kidding - vote with your conscience.


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