Book 1 in The Legends of the First Empire series
First published June 28, 2016
My rating: 4 out of 5
Image from Goodreads
Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!
The Short of It:
This readable fantasy novel was a bit slow to start, but eventually I was totally sucked in and couldn't put it down!
The Long of It:
I requested an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley on a total whim because I'd been craving some fantasy and I'd seen it on a couple other blogs. I had no idea what to expect, being completely new to this author and fairly new to the epic fantasy genre, but I was pleasantly surprised.
"Age of Myth" is a tale of four strangers whose paths are on a crash course that will ultimately change the world. In the land of Elan, the Fhrey are considered by humans to be gods who cannot be killed. But in a moment of righteous rage during a chance encounter, a man named Raithe proves that the gods are not immortal after all -- unwittingly igniting the spark that will result in a war between the humans and the Fhrey.
Then there's bold, brave and kind Persephone, a clan chieftain's widow who's hell bent on doing whatever's necessary to secure safety for her people. Suri, my favorite character, is a 14-year-old mystic who feels most at home barefoot in the woods and whose best friend is her pet wolf. And Arion is from the other side of the game: she's a powerful Fhrey, one of the few who can wield the Art -- what we humans think of as magic. Her chapters give readers a look at life on the other side of the border, in wealthy, technologically advanced and luxurious Erivan, where the prevailing belief is that humans are primitive animals, though most Fhrey have never actually set sight on a "rhune." Raithe, Persephone and Suri, all misfits in their own way, must band together against the Fhrey in the battle for the fate of humankind. And on which side will Arion's allegiance fall?
It took some time for me to get oriented in this unfamiliar world, learn new terms and mythical creatures, and figure out who the characters were. The book gets off to a bit of a slow start, but about halfway through I was hooked. Sullivan's worldbuilding is excellent, with rich atmosphere and detailed descriptions, and I'm excited to get back to Elan in the second book.
And now that we've gotten to know our protagonists and the stage is set for action, I expect that the following books will be much faster-paced and more adrenaline-filled page-turners. I was a little worried the writing in a high fantasy novel like this might be slow, complicated or pretentious, but it was utterly readable; I almost wished for a little more beauty or flourish in the writing. It was a fairly long book, but it was a quick read for its size.
This is the first time I've read anything by Michael J. Sullivan, but fantasy fans might like to know this is a prequel to his popular Riyria Revelations series (though no knowledge of Riyria is necessary to enjoy "Age of Myth"). And readers who've already been introduced to the author will know that he has a unique writing process: he composes the entire series before the first book is published, so there's no wondering when the next book will come out or fretting about some catastrophe that prevents the author from penning the conclusion of the saga. There are four more books to come in the Legends of the First Empire series, with the next installment set to release exactly a year from now -- and I will most definitely be reading it!
P.S. There's a very helpful glossary in the back of the book!