Friday, March 2, 2012

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Publisher: Orbit

Date: November 23, 2011

Blurb (Amazon):

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles--until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom. 

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires in order to keep a secret too terrible for the world to know?

The Riyria Revelations series has become somewhat of a sensation over the last couple years, selling boatloads of copies. It's a true tale of self-publishing success, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. If you want to know more about how Michael J. Sullivan went from giving up on writing to selling more copies by himself than most published authors, then look no further than his blog.

Now, on to the actual review.

I will be completely honest with you. I went into these books not expecting to be wowed. And I wasn't, for the first little bit. These books aren't the kind of books that I typically read. I have never read a book with Elves in it until now, for instance. Yes, never read Tolkien, have no desire to. This is probably the single biggest thing that deterred me, initially. However, I have read plenty of bromances, and Royce and Hadrian are an epic bromance if I've ever seen one. I'll tell you now before I even finish the review that I'll be reading the other books in this series just to see what happens to Royce and Hadrian (though I've already got my theories).

Theft of Swords is an omnibus edition, so it's really two books in one. The first half of the book (originally called The Crown Conspiracy) had some little things that niggled me (that's not a racist word. Get a dictionary!), but I pushed on, knowing that things would get better.

And they did.

The second half of the book was faster, funnier, tighter plot-wise, and even had better action scenes (the action scenes were already good in the first half). I was just starting to complain that good guys never die in these books, and then one did (though his relative didn't really seem to mourn him, which I thought strange). Things are definitely looking up from part 1 to part 2.

So, should you run right out and buy all of these books? I don't know.

For me personally, it's CURRENTLY a no.

But the problem that I'm having writing this review is that I knew going into it that others had complained about certain parts of the story and that it wasn't the kind of novel I read on a day-to-day basis. In short, If I were on jury duty and this book were on trial, I would get kicked off by the defense before the case ever started. I was prejudiced.

For a lot of people, I think these books will be very fun and very enjoyable. I laughed out loud at several parts of the book, and breezed through the second half of the novel. I can only imagine that each book will get better, so people who read this style of fantasy day-to-day will go from liking Riyria to LOVING Riyria.

These are good books, well-written and enjoyable. They're just not for me
I loved

  • Hadrian and Royce. They're funny, they're extremely capable, and they're very good at getting into deeper crap at every turn.
  • That I didn't find myself hating elves and dwarves nearly as much as I thought I would.
 I hated

  • Lots of places that were "tell" when they should have been "show."
  • The monologues of the villain and dwarf in the first part
For a quick guide on who "those people" are (trying to decide if that sounds more racist or elitist), check out Staffer's Musings. His review has a pretty great checklist of whether or not he thinks you'll like this book. I know I didn't meet many of the checkmarks, and so it makes sense that I'm giving Theft of Swords 7/10. It's fun, funny and lighthearted, but it's just not quite my kind of book. Hopefully it will be yours, because Mr. Sullivan is a hell of a guy.

I'll be checking out books two and three of the omnibus edition down the road. I imagine that my reviews will be higher for each one, because unless something goes horribly off-track, everything about the second half of the book was better than the first and I'm assuming that trend will continue. Plus, I've gotta know what happens to Royce and Hadrian. :)