Review: Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

In Age of Myth, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan launched readers on an epic journey of magic and adventure, heroism and betrayal, love and loss. Now the thrilling saga continues as the human uprising is threatened by powerful enemies from without—and bitter rivalries within.

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?

The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.

My feelings for Age of Swords in a nutshell: good, but not as good as Age of Myth, and that’s because all the myth is gone.

Let me explain: what made me love the first book was the mystical atmosphere that is so strong in it. I’m a big, big fan of fantasy books that don’t read as historical fiction set in another world. I love magic, magical creatures and magical events. I especially love those worlds where magic is slowly creeping back (like in Game of Thrones) or worlds where magic is more or less inexplicable and completely fascinating. I read fantasy for these worlds, for these little bits of worldbuilding that I find so interesting.

Age of Myth had a lot of that going on; with Magda the giant tree, with Suri and her wolf and the way she talked with the forest, etc, etc, etc. And well, most of that is gone in Age of Sword, that even opens with Magda the giant tree being torn to pieces by lightnings. The book is of course still interesting and some of that atmosphere is still present, but it was much more of a travel-quest fantasy book than of a mystery-fighting-magical fantasy, which is what Age of Myth was & what I wanted.

But I absolutely loved the female characters in this book, especially Persephone and Moya. I adore Moya, to be honest, and was so glad when she got the recognition she deserved in the ending. I do think the author could slow down with the rape culture-y comments from other characters about her, though. Just let Moya be, please.

I must confess that what’s keeping me really interested in this book is once more the hints of Sullivan’s other books, especially when it comes to what Nyphron is planning (he IS an asshole and I’m so mad that this piece of shit will be revered for thousands of years, let me tell you. If he marries Persephone – which will happen, because… yeah – I’ll be so annoyed. He doesn’t even get close to deserving her) and what is behind the damn door in the elven kingdom. I also love how Sullivan is playing with the whole “what really happened x what we will remember in three thousand years” theme. It is super interesting to see how the history we got in the Ryria books was wrong in many aspects and that only makes me more curious to find what really happened to give birth to the empire Royce and Hadrian live in.

In conclusion, there are so many cool/magical/Ren-kryptonite elements in this series and I really hope they become more relevant in the next books. That will make me enjoy them even more. But Age of Swords, while still good, was a bit of a letdown. 3.5 stars.

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