Sunday, September 2, 2018

Mount Toberead 16 - Rise of Empire by Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan didn't take the usual route to publishing success. His Ryria Revelations epic fantasy series was originally self published as 6 novels. When he was successful in that endeavour, a big publisher (Orbit) picked him up and reissued the books as 3 omnibuses.

The easiest way to describe The Riyria Revelations is to call them old fashioned epic fantasy, because that's exactly what they are. Sullivan's writing style or ability falls somewhere between David Eddings and Raymond Feist, he's probably closer to Eddings than Feist, although unlike Eddings he will allow bad things to happen to some of his characters, whereas Eddings was reluctant to let them get so much as a cut finger.

I read the first omnibus (Theft of Swords) some years ago and found it pleasant enough. Enough that I wanted to continue on at the time, hence Rise of Empire being on Mount Toberead. For various reasons I kept finding other things to read and this one kept being overlooked.

Remember how I said The Riyria Revelations is old fashioned epic fantasy? Boy, is it ever! To the point that this the middle part of the series is filled with the characters doing some of that pointless wandering about while the author gets all their ducks in a row (someone, somewhere must have told writers of epic fantasy that readers really love this, I don't know who it was, but they didn't do literature any services), the result being that Rise of Empire is incredibly boring and pointless.

It doesn't help that Sullivan prefers to write characters that are either clearly delineated as either good or bad, with very little in between. While this can be preferable to the multitude of morally ambiguous anti heroes that seem to populate epic fantasy these days, in the hands of some writers it can serve to create some very two dimensional characters that lack any depth whatsoever, and it's rather hard to develop much empathy or be particularly interested in them.

The only one I really liked much was the minor character of Amilia, unfortunately by the 2nd book of Rise of Empire, she too had lost much of her original interest.

I found this a real chore to get through, and while Sullivan is an adequate writer that's about as far as it goes. It may pick up in the next book and rise to a triumphant end, but I won't be seeing it.

Next up, I can't find a T or a U, so it will be straight to V.