Bane of Kings reviews the breathtaking final installment in the Riryia Revelations series by Michael J. Sullivan, which collects the novels Wintertide and Percepliquis, and is titled Heir of Novron. This omnibus is published by Orbit Books, but all of the Riryia novels were self published individually first. This Omnibus was released in January 2012.
“A wonderful, spectacular conclusion to a series which has seen Sullivan launch into competition with the likes of Brandon Sanderson and Joe Abercrombie. Strong characters, strong plot, strong pretty much everything - Heir of Novron and the Riryia series are novels that any true fantasy fan should read.” ~The Founding Fields
If you’ve read the first two novels in the Riryia Revelations series, then I’m pretty sure that you won’t need this review to convince you to buy the final installment, but I’m going to have a go anyway. Containing the novels Wintertide and Percepliquis, Heir of Novron is the strongest of the three Omnibus editions that contain Michael J. Sullivan’s epic, and proves that he is a fantasy author that all fantasy fans should be reading. I’m going to split this review into two halves, and talk about my experiences with Wintertide and Percepliquis in each of them. Obviously, I will be starting with Wintertide as it’s the first novel in the Omnibus.
A FORCED WEDDING. A DOUBLE EXECUTION. TWO THIEVES HAVE OTHER PLANS.
The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists with a day that will never be forgotten. On the high holiday of Wintertide the empress will be married and Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar will be publically executed. Then the empress will suffer a fatal accident leaving the empire in the hands of the new emperor. It will be a perfect day. There is only one problem–Royce and Hadrian have finally found the lost heir.
I was a little nervous going into the final Omnibus as I was wondering if Michael J. Sullivan would be able to keep up with everything that made Theft of Swords and Rise of Empire great, as well as include a satisfying conclusion to please all fans of the series. However, my doubts were put to a halt within the first few pages of Wintertide. Sullivan continues to enthrall, hook and entertain the reader in the same way that his previous novels have. You can tell that Wintertide is a Riryia Revelations novel, original, fun, entertaining, plot-twisting and action-packed, it’s a strong page-turner that whilst it may be shorter than Percepliquis, it is still a strong novel.
Royce and Hadrian’s characters continue to develop throughout the course of the novel and by the end, you can tell that both men are not the same when you met them first going into the series. If you’re looking to write character development well, then Michael J. Sullivan is an author to watch out for. As well as writing strong male characters such as Myron the Priest, the two aformentioned thieves and Mince to name a few, he also manages to write a strong female cast without making them 100% sarcastic all the time, or making them female warriors. Empress Modina and Arista are the strongest female characters in this book with the most page time, but Gwen, Royce’s love interest, is also a strong character even though she may not appear often. Arguably, the star of this book is Modina and for the first time in the series she manages to really show her own strengths in this novel.
Wintertide is the novel that is the most similar to those that came before, and bears all the recognisable aspects of a Riryia novel. It’s light humored in places, even with its dark ending, and the author manages to avoid dedicating the whole of the penultimate book in the series to set up something big for the final book. This was what let Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (the film) down for me, as I felt it was too busy setting the stage for Part 2, and I’m glad that Sullivan hasn’t fallen into this trap, and Wintertide is a novel that stands pretty much on its own, although the author does take some time to set the stage for the final book, but doesn’t do this excessively.
There are several plot twists in Wintertide and each help make the novel more and more appealing. Although people who haven’t read the series may find it tricky to work out what’s going on if they jump in here, there’s a reason why this is the fifth book in the series and not the first. The prose is excellent in this novel and Percipiquis, and the dialogue is another strength shown here by the author, with it being realistic and captivating.
Verdict for Wintertide: 4/5
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS…THE ELVES HAVE CROSSED THE NIDWALDEN. TWO THIEVES WILL DECIDE THE FUTURE.
Percepliquis is the final installment of the epic fantasy, The Riyria Revelations. In this saga that began with The Crown Conspiracy, two thieves caught in the wrong place at the right time were launched on a series of ever escalating adventures that have all lead to this moment. Three thousand years have passed and the time for Novron’s heir to act has arrived.
So, this is it. Percepliquis. The final installment in the epic six novel length series, that spanned all the way from The Crown Conspiracy right up until here. By the end of Wintertide, I knew that Sullivan couldn’t possibly disappoint with Percepliquis before I had even begun, and I was proved right. Everything that Sullivan does right in Wintertide, he does even better in Percepliquis. This is the novel that has become my favourite out of the series so far, and it is truly a fantastic conclusion and my only regret is that I should have discovered this series earlier when it was still self-published.
The pace is superb, and its fast, page-turning elements will keep you hooked all the way through. I couldn’t put Percepliquis down at all, that’s how much I love it. It only took me a couple of days to finish the final novel, whilst I’d taken longer with Wintertide (for reasons that were mostly my own fault, both books were amazing). Every plot thread that has been left hangling has been tangled up nicely in Percepliquis, and we’re not left any questions coming out of the book. Although it’s a shame there will be no more Riryia novels, it’s been a fantastic journey, and I can say that I will be re-reading it for sure in the future. There are several plot twists throughout the book and although the novel may be a bit less unpredictable than Wintertide, it still maintains that edge of suspense particularly during the search for Percepliquis itself.
The author manages to pull off a breathtaking conclusion to the series, and the characters develop even more than they had done by the end of Wintertide. Seeing Alric again just reminds me how far Arista has come as a character from her beginnings in The Crown Conspiracy, and the other characters that make appearances are just as enthralling. When the POV changes from one group to another, you never feel like skipping that chapter to see what happens to your preferred bunch of characters, and the story manages to be as entertaining as the previous books.
Every major character is back for one more journey, and we have several subplots and the main plot that are all resolved in the final volume. This is a much darker novel than it’s predecessors and there are several elements in this book that reminded me of the Fellowship of the Ring, when the Fellowship find themselves in Moria, including a fight with a being that is similar to the Balrog. However, that didn’t bother me that much - the way in the fight was resolved was different to Tolkien’s novel, and is still a really entertaining read.
The action is well written and the battle scenes are spectacular, with several memorable encounters and events that prove no character is safe as the novel draws to a close, despite the fact that you find yourself wanting certain characters to make it through. Although a large amount of characters do make it through to the end, there are a few significant characters that I didn’t see getting killed off until they actually were, which took me by surprise.
This is the most dramatic out of all the series, and the darkest as well as the best. Sullivan has stepped up and knocked the ball out of the park for his final novel in the Riryia series, and I hope that the author will continue to write more novels (that I will certainly be reading) in the future.
Verdict for Percepliquis: 5/5
Overall Verdict for Heir of Novron: 4.5/5
The Riryia Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan: The Crown Conspiracy, Avempartha, Nyphron Rising, The Emerald Storm, Wintertide, Percepliquis