The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicle by Michael J Sullivan

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The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicle by Michael J Sullivan

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Buy The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicle by Michael J Sullivan at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The Riyria (fantasy's Cassidy and Sundance) are back with what could be the first of 12 self-contained prequels. It doesn't seem the same at the start, but give it a mo and the old magic flows. Welcome back lads – you've been missed!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: August 2013
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356502274

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Hadrian Blackwater (ex-soldier, ex-lots-of-things) and Royce Melborn (exemplary thief and grump) are summoned to Melengar by Professor Arcadius. The duo may not know each other and arrive separately, but as they meet and begin the Professor's mission together a legend is born: The Riyria. (That's elvish for two by the way.) Meanwhile a prostitute named Gwen escapes to save her life. Across the road (ok... she didn't run far) she goes into business leading her to a place in fantasy novel history.

I vividly remember the Jubilee weekend commemorating the Queen's 60th anniversary here in Britain. Not because of the TV coverage (I didn't watch any) nor the pageantry up and down the country (I stayed in) but because that was the weekend I chose to read the final novel of Michael J Sullivan's Riyria Revelations. I also remember bawling over a particular death (still in therapy over that one, Michael) and the thought that this may have been the last we saw of the wise-cracking, swashbuckling Hadrian and Royce.

I (and possibly one or two others) needn't have worried. Due to popular demand and a lit-crush between the author's wife and Mr Blackwater, they're back in a series of potentially 12 prequels, each Riyria Chronicle representing a year. (They 'met' 12 years before the first Revelations novel. By the way, for those wondering about tales including prostitutes, there are no graphic (or even ungraphic), canoodling scenes here so, apart from you possibly having to explain what a prostitute is, it should be safe in the hands of young teens.

The idea of 12 Chronicles is flexible as Michael will drop it if our appetites dwindle, which isn't surprising as MJS is one of the most reader-in-touch novelists I've encountered. He's also rather clever in other areas: each of Chronicle will be devoid of spoilers for the Revelations and vice versa allowing readers to jump in at any stage. So enough of the background; after reading Chronicle #1, do we want more? Yes, big please, thank you!

There is a detectable difference in that, being self-contained, The Crown Tower hasn't the complexity and character-web of the Revelations which I missed till I got used to it. (Those of you unaware of what's gone before probably won't notice.) Also we drift into the novel rather than falling into the action that aficionados are used to, but we don't have to wait long. Michael writes in a specific style for Riyria, deleting anything literary that will slow the momentum, wanting us to remember the action rather than the words and, oh gosh, we do! Hadrian is quickly embroiled in a murder mystery that comes back to be one of the novel's big twists.

Both newbies and we Riyria veteran readers will experience the same frisson of excitement but ours also has a discovery factor as pre-Revelation moments fall into the larger jigsaw, making us want to go back and re-read the trilogy/sextet (depending on your version). There are a couple of in-jokes and nods to reward those of us who have read the lot, as though a greater reward was required. Indeed, The Crown Tower is very good, sliding into excellence once the alliance is formed, albeit formed grudgingly.

Hopefully in time Michael can write some literary offerings as well. I mean, imaging the Beatles forced to keep recreating the early 60s… no Long and Winding Road for a start. However for now we just say ta very much and bring on The Rose and the Thorn (due September 2013). However best have a tissue ready; knowing an author only kills for a reason doesn't always help.

You can guess what our suggested further reading is going to be can't you? Yes, whether you're reading it for the first or the hundredth time, we heartily recommend Theft of Swords where it all began and Rise of Empire where it all got better still.

Buy The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicle by Michael J Sullivan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicle by Michael J Sullivan at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicle by Michael J Sullivan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicle by Michael J Sullivan at Amazon.com.

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