Book Review: Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan - The Fantasy Review

Book Review: Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan

The Fantasy Review‘s review of Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan, volume two in The Riyria Revelations, which includes books three and four in this series, Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm.

Check out our review of Theft of Swords (book one in The Riyria Revelations) and our interview with Michael J. Sullivan!

Rise of Empire is an incredible sequel to Theft of Swords. While the latter was a fun, fantasy adventure, Rise of Empire raises the stakes and introduces new characters and plots that turned this low-stakes adventure into an epic tale of underdogs versus a seemingly unstoppable force.

The characters of Royce and Hadrian continue to be a delight to read, and even though I enjoyed all the POVs in Rise of Empire, their story was always the one I most looked forward to. 

It was so satisfying to learn more about their personal histories and see how far they had come over the years, especially since meeting one another. Hadrian’s honor becomes almost Ned Stark-like, creating an interesting tension between him and his best friend. Royce, the ex-assassin, is softened by the love of a woman, but requires a little more growth before he can come to terms with Hadrian’s morality.

Amilia is a new POV character to the series, introduced as the personal servant to the newly appointed Empress (no spoilers). I was delighted when it became quickly apparent that this storyline would be one of political intrigue and it did not disappoint! It was a tense, intriguing plot that felt fresh and exciting.

Arista returns as a main character in Rise of Empire and she might have the most interesting and satisfying character development of all the returning cast. Her story is one of mystery, uprising, tragic loss, and self-belief. I am excited to see where her character arc will go in the next volume, Heir of Novron.

I won’t spoil anything, but within Rise of Empire there is a seafaring plot that came out of nowhere and was incredible! Perhaps the highlight of the novel, this ship-bound adventure will have you anxiously turning to the next page every step of the way.

Overall, Rise of Empire outgrows the almost cozy fantasy feel of Theft of Swords and creates a darker atmosphere for the beginnings of what I can only assume will be a truly epic finale in Heir of Novron. It surpasses Theft of Swords for enjoyment for me, and I rated that book 5/5 on Goodreads! Definitely keep on reading this series if you are at all hesitant about opening book two.

Related to Our Review of Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan

Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

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