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Theft Of Swords: The Riyria Revelations Paperback – 3 Nov 2011
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One of the best traditional epic fantasies currently being published (FantasyBookCritic)
Well-written and enjoyable (SFSite.com)
I couldn't put it down ... This book is that good (SpeculativeFictionJunkie.com)
A swashbuckling fantasy; action, adventure and intrigue are its strong suits (FantasyLiterature.com)
A fast-paced tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.See all Product description
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The main protagonists are Royce and Hadrain; an expert thief and warrior respectively and they are a dynamic duo for hire operating independently from local Guilds and are known for being the best at what they do. And it's during one of these jobs that everything goes wrong and the full story kicks into gear.
They deal with Knights, Princesses, Kings, Dwarfs, Monks, Wizards, Towers along the way and end up in more crazy adventures as the story progresses.
There's nothing ground breaking here - deliberately so - Michael J Sullivan has created a series using traditional fantasy tropes and he makes no apologies for it. None are needed because he has created an amazing world that I cannot wait to jump back into. The world building, characters and story arc are all excellent but I have to single out the prose and dialogue for stellar praise. The back and forth between the characters is a joy; funny, realistic and organic. The prose is unfussy and clean; helping to push the story along well. The pacing is perfect.
Another triumph is the fact that the author has created a story arc that (so far) will stretch for two entire series but at the same time each novel is a story that has a beginning, middle and end; that is such a great skill and gives the reader the enjoyment of a resolution and conclusion each time whilst also teasing us with what is to come. There will be a sentence or throw away comment that is important later; I love that. Who are the good guys and who can be trusted and how will it all link together....? I don't know but I can't wait to find out.
But worst of all is the amount of cliches. For some reason the book is promoted as subverting tropes, but this isn't true at all. There is a host of the usual cliches you've read in so many other fantasy novels. Secret heir, rescuing the princess (twice), evil schemes for world domination, poor damsels in distress, dwarves who work with stone and elves who live long lives in the forest, basically the same medieval Europe world-building in all other fantasy.
The depiction of women is particularly lazy, they basically don't do anything in the story except look pretty (in fact their only characteristic is their beauty) and get rescued by men. I was sick of Thrace constantly doing nothing except crying for her Daddy and the completely unnecessary rape scene (that is immediately forgotten because it served no purpose) was stupid. What was the point of Arista, especially in the second book? She sat around, acted like an idiot and then got rescued. Rescuing the princess is a lazy cliche, even worse when it's done twice.
An example would be Hadrian walking into the nationalist camp and ordering Parker around and then suddenly finding himself in chains, again. I mean, wasn't he told the nationalists would blame Arista for the disapperance of Gaunt? Yes, he was but for some reason was utterly surprised when this happened. Its a bit ridiculous. I think Hadrian and Royce end up in prison/chains several times each novel, which isn't really all that cred worthy for two legendary thieves.