Review: Avempartha

avemparthaTitle: Avempartha (2009)
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Pages: 331
Series: The Riyria Revelations #2

Michael J. Sullivan’s books are fantasy comfort food  — likable characters, charming dialogue, clean plots, and unexpected twists all make for something infinitely enjoyable. Avempartha is no different. The second book of the Riyria Revelations series finds Hadrian and Royce, our intrepid rogues, tasked with breaking into yet another tower. This time they contend with a mythical flying reptile (not a dragon!) and the helpless villagers of a nearby town that have drawn the ire of the beast.

Despite hitting many of the same beats as the first novel, Avempartha charts some new territory — unforeseen information about the past of Hadrian and Royce is revealed, an unknown peasant girl rises to prominence, and the Church of Nyphron misuses their authority to further their (somewhat) noble aims.

I was disappointed that Myron, the naive monk from The Crown Conspiracy (see review), is nowhere to be found, but Esrahaddon, the 900-year-old wizard, is elevated into a supporting role, and his hidden maneuvering and prevarication makes him a compelling foil for Hadrian and Royce. The presence of princess Arista and peasant girl Thrace brings more visibility to the female characters of the world, but they are mostly used as the pawns of others and don’t have much of their own agency.

Sullivan has built a familiar, yet unique world that has deep mythical roots. Knowing that the lore is being fleshed out in his prequel series The Legends of the First Empire (see Age of Myth review) ensures that I don’t gloss over any passing mentions of the history of the world. I am more than happy to continue the Riyria journey in the present day and I look forward to moving on to Nyphron Rising.

★★★★ out of 5

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