Age Of Myth (book one of The Legends Of the First Empire) by Michael J. Sullivan (book review).

January 26, 2018 | By | Reply More

The author Michael J Sullivan has built a successful career out of the ‘Riyaria’ fantasy series of books, nine books in total, but with the opening part of his latest trilogy, ‘Age Of Myth’, Sullivan has elected to travel three thousand years back into the past. It’s a delightful and balanced story of what happens in one little village, events that will have an impact across the land.

Sullivan is quick to establish the ‘mythic’ credentials of the story as a young lad called Raithe witnesses the death of his father at the hands of a god, better recognised by the reader as an elf in the haughty and superior Tolkien tradition. With the help of Malcolm, a slave that senses an opportunity, Raithe manages instead to defeat the god and immediately takes on the mantle of ‘the God-Killer’. Given that the Fhrey, the Elves have subjugated the Rhune, the land’s human population, for years, the arrival of the ‘God-Killer’ gives them cause for concern.

Meanwhile, in the village of Dahl Rehn, a modest Iron Age location, the old chieftain is dead, slain by a gigantic killer bear called Grin that roams the forest murdering anything and everything. His widow, Persephone, is worried that the Fhrey are starting to raise Rhune towns and villages in retaliation for the actions of the God-Killer. When a young girl with mystical and magical powers emerges from the forest and tells her that there are definite bad times ahead, Persephone resolves to do something about it, regardless of no longer being in a position of power within the town.

Reflecting the political and prophesy-addled problems of Dahl Rehn is the Fhrey land of Erivan, ruled over by the Fane, leader of a new, ruling elite of elves who have mastered magic to consolidate power. Facing criticism from non-magical factions within their cities and the Fhrey stationed in their borderline outposts, this magical ruling class is both feared and despised. As the events in Dahl Rehn begin to unfold and the Fhrey start their brutal retaliation, Persephone brings together a gang of warriors and wizards who just might be able to survive the oncoming storm, even if their first decisive action is to go and talk to a tree.

This was my first encounter with Sullivan’s world of Riyaria and I thoroughly enjoyed making my way through a story that manages to combine action, warmth, humour and reflective character moments in an effective way. The prose was never over-written, nor lacking in depth. Rather it conveyed a sense of adventure, menace and scale, with the tiny Dahl Rehn pitched against the might of the Fhrey oppressors. In short, it was a page-turner and it’s been a while since a new fantasy series grabbed me like that. Pleasingly, it actually told a complete story, too, so while you will know want to know what happens next, character arcs and plot points are resolved satisfyingly.

One small point concerning some of the phraseology. I did get a little lost with some of the many new terms in the book, though there is a glossary to help you. Also, not Sullivan’s fault as an American writer, but he can’t have realised how amusing it would be for a UK audience when the central deity of your fantasy world is called ‘Wogan’. Personally, I think it is only right that Sir Terry is remembered in this way.

Overall, ‘Age Of Myth’ is a satisfying fantasy read, a great start to a new series and great start to the new year.

John Rivers

January 2018

(pub: Orbit, 2016. 781 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 26.00 (UK), $ 35.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-101-96533-7)

check out websites: www.orbitbooks.net and www.michaelsullivan-author.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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