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Friday, April 2, 2010

"The Emerald Storm" by Michael Sullivan (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman and Liviu Suciu)

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

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. In my 2009 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.

"Nyphron Rising"
started the epic part of the series which had
a lot of ground prepared in The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha which were mostly standalone adventures, but here in "The Emerald Storm" the series ramps up considerably and "Wintertide" became of of my top five titles of the second part of the year.

"The Emerald Storm" stands at about 400 pages divided into 26 named chapters that mainly follow our four main POV's: Royce, Hadrian, Arista and Thrace aka Modina, alternating between the adventures of Royce and Hadrian and the ones of Arista and Thrace. The novel starts with two detailed maps of the world and ends with a chapter that by itself shows how the series evolved to fulfill its early promise.

While "Nyphron Rising" started getting into the heart of the main story of the series, here the plot thickens, the world expands and we have action from the high seas, to the jungle, to the den of a barbarian warlord with allies in unexpected places and of course to the palace of the "Empress" where the main movers and shakers plot their takeover.

When setting out to write a series as Michael Sullivan has it can be quite an undertaking. The ability to keep the momentum going and not lose interest in the process can be very hard. Luckily Sullivan has done just that. In the fourth installment of the Riyria Revelations, the series is still running strong, possibly stronger now then when it first started.

When I read Crown Conspiracy I was amazed at this debut novel. Readers are now on the fourth title, and Sullivan still knows how to amaze readers with every twist and turn of the series. Every element that makes up an epic series is manifesting itself within these novels. After reading Nyphron Rising which gave everyone a bit more background and fleshed out the characters I was prepared to jump into Emerald Storm.

Emerald Storm has the gripping qualities that made me first enjoy this series. It's quick moving, action packed, but also character driven. There's a hard balance between action and character development, but Sullivan finds out to balance the two and not drag down the novel with lengthy paragraphs or time consuming character development. The main appeal to this whole series is just how natural the characters are developing, and really how each character grows as the series moves on. The bit of a darker approach to some of the aspects in the series was a nice touch. All threads that have been developing in the past 2 books are starting to really form and take shape, and that it what makes Emerald Storm so spectacular.

Every time I finish a book in this series it makes me want the next one instantly. As stated in Nyphron Rising review, the novels could be read as each individual book really doesn't properly show the whole picture without reading the series together. Emerald Storm would be a rough read if one didn't know the background, not an impossible read but it'd be a bit rough if you hadn't read the other books.

For those that are veteran readers of fantasy there is a little plot twist that will spice up a bit of the novels and makes the next novel something that readers will be waiting in anticipation for.

Michael Sullivan shows that he isn't just a one book wonder, or that his other novels were random hits. His Riyria Revelations series is taking shape very nicely, and it'll be amazing to watch where he takes the other novels after this because with each novel there is a new surprise or approach to his writing.

"The Emerald Storm" was awesome and it finally realizes the strong potential of the Ryria series; it also made me reconsider Nyphron Rising which sets this one up and reads much more fulfilling once we can continue the story started there.

The part cliffhanger ending makes Wintertide a big asap, but "The Emerald Storm" sits well on its own and lots of things happen, while we have great, great stuff in opening more the world and exploring stranger parts of it, duels, magic, suspense and even the weaker Modina thread started getting much better; the super-twist at the end left me stunned since I really did not see it coming; also the novel is considerably darker than the rest and while it's no spoiler to know that the main characters (Royce, Arista, Hadrian) survive, the body count including secondary but interesting characters is rising.

"The Emerald Storm" is an A++ and a top fantasy of 2010.


Unknown said...

I enjoyed the book as well. You nailed it on the head, soon as you finish the book you are ready to jump in and read the next one. An amazing tale that gets better with each installment. Wintertide could not come sooner.


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