Thursday, July 27, 2017

New Release: "Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire #2)" by Michael J. Sullivan

Disclaimer: I was given a free advance ecopy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher, Random House/Ballantine Del Rey in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains as forthright as ever.

A review of the first book in the series, Age of Myth is here.

Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself, "I like this, but things are happening too easily"? That was my thought halfway through Age of Swords, and it haunted me as I read the final pages. This book has great characters, adventure, action, and new locations, but it doesn't have enough friction in the politics or between the characters to make it feel like something that could happen feasibly, even in a fantasy world, unless humans are suddenly without fierce convictions, grudges, and all suddenly decide on being agreeable. Sure, there is conflict, but mostly between races: if you've read a comment section on the internet (that wasn't on this blog) in the last ten years, you'll know that people are attached to their opinion, even in the face of facts. The humans of Age of Swords get along in a way that makes the bulk of us look like contrarians.

As I mentioned, there are new locations in this book, but some of those locations were a tad stereotypical for my complete enjoyment. I found the Fhrey side of the story much more interesting, which I hadn't expected given my love of Suri, Persephone, and Roan. Even on the Fhrey side of things, I found a few inconsistencies/annoyances of mine- a leader of a group kept saying the same phrase every time he popped up. It would've been okay, but the phrase was, "Am I right?"

Am I right, people?

Am I right?

Am I right?

Aren't you annoyed yet? And thinking of old television shows in which that catchphrase may have been more suitable? Instead of imagining Orlando Bloom in his Legolas role, winking slightly as he says, "Am I right?"

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?
'The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.'

One major negative for me was the focus on fleshing-out characters that had already had enough backstory attached to them. One character in particular is singled out for this, and I was reminded of the logic behind the song A Boy Named Sue. If you've heard the song, you'll know what I'm talking about- as a song, it's okay. But does that logic make much sense in real life, with real people?

I know I've done a thorough job listing the irritating qualities of this book, but I do believe this series is still well worth reading. The reason? Despite indulging in many tropes, there is a lot to enjoy here- a mystery surrounding some of the characters, characters that are enjoyable to read about (despite being too darn peaceable), and various political plots that move the book forward. However, if you're averse to traditional fantasy elements (elves and dwarves- need I say more?) you will want to find a different series.

Age of Swords isn't quite what I had hoped for- and it was on my list of most anticipated books for 2017. It still has the magic of the first book, but perhaps I've become a bit more immune to its charms after the extra pages in this one. Still, if you enjoy traditional fantasy with a wealth of female characters and without the traditional fantasy placement of said female characters, The Legends of the First Empire series may be for you.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great sequel that doesn't quite match the first book's magic.

Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for violence (that includes brutality against vulnerable people), prejudice, and a surplus of annoying catchphrases.

Page Count: 512 pages


  1. Only a squidge less liked than the first book, so that's good. Second books tend to be a little less engagihg, am I right? XD

    I am still on board for binge reading these when they are all out. Thanks for sharing your always well organized thoughts. :)

    1. No, you're not right fake Legolas! :P Well, I guess it depends on the series.

      I could see that being much easier- I had a bit of trouble getting back into this "world" and I only left it last year. Epic fantasy is a bit difficult to recall every detail of unless you reread the series each time a new book arrives.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, La La!
      ~Litha Nelle


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