Rating : 7.5/10
Riyria is without a doubt one of my favorite series. So unsurprisingly, when two of my besties decided to give it a try last January, I couldn’t resist and I jumped at the chance to re-read it!
I think I can safely say that Riyria is definitely the kind of series that gets better with each book! I thought that the first time I read it and I completely agree with my younger self on that 🙂
Theft of Swords is divided into 2 books: The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha.
1. The Crown Conspiracy may be seen as a long prologue that lays the foundation to the main story. The landscape is defined and the main political and religious powers are introduced. Nevertheless, the story is quite simple and unlike most high Fantasy series I read, there is no big villain to overthrow, no impending doom that threatens the realms (yet ?). Even if that’s kinda refreshing, my biggest complaint about this first part is that it totally lacked the complexity and epic tropes I usually seek in Fantasy! Yes, there is magic and a fabled wizard, yes there is talk about gods and an epic fallen empire, about elves and dwarves… But mostly, it’s just that : talk and myths and History.
The first time I read this, I just closed the book and thought: “Okay… Hum… That wasn’t very impressive. Shall I continue?” And man ! I’m so glad I did! Because, though lacking “epicness” (well I know it’s not a real word, but it should be!!), this book (and the series as a whole) introduced me to an awesome palette of great and lovable characters ! Hadrian and Royce form an improbable duo. They are fundamentally different, both carry mysterious pasts and they can’t stop bantering ! I loved them since the beginning (even when we didn’t know much about them) because I sensed there was much more to them than what Michael hinted at this point. And then there is dear, dear Myron, one of the most adorable and naive and endearing characters ever written in Fantasy! He was so cute, marveling at everything and raving alone with no one to comment at his observations! XD
“There,” Hadrian told Royce, “we’ve got Maribor on our side. Now you can relax.” “Actually,” Myron said sheepishly, “I was praying for the horses. But I will pray for you as well,” he added hastily.
Something I also loved about this read too was Michael’s prose and humor. The writing was really fluid and I enjoyed the easy read and laughed so hard at some of the dialogues and situations.
2. Avempartha, the second book of the omnibus, improved a lot in terms of plot and characterization in my opinion! In this part, myths are taking more shape and the scope of the story is broadened, as more is at stake and interesting Fantasy elements are introduced ! We get to know more about Hadrian and Royce as they encounter new faces (Thrace, for example, is such a great female addition!) and meet again with some of the first book’s characters. I understand some of my friends complaints though, as the story and actions are quite soft at this point. We keep hearing a lot about the lead duo’s “badassery” (in the past) but we really don’t see much of it, for now ! 😉
Anyway, this second book was more engaging and hinted at a grander and more complex story. I was enthralled to see more facets of Royce in this one! While Hadrian is genuinely kindhearted, caring and looking for a noble purpose in life (imagine him like a giant teddy bear ! Well a teddy bear carrying 3 swords, that is!), Royce is sinister, somber, grumpy, clever and sarcastic and I absolutely love the contrast between the two partners!
Royce. Source: DeviantArt
Theft of swords can be seen as a long introduction to the series. The plot is very simple and the characters are well outlined but lack depth, background and introspection at this point. I know this first book can be disappointing (I wasn’t completely thrilled at first, even if I overall enjoyed the read) but if I may give an advice: please carry on with the whole series ! Because only at the last page of the last book will you see the whole big picture and all the elements of the puzzle will fall into place! And believe me, it will be worth the journey !
Review by Haïfa.
Re-read in January, 2017.