The Rose and the Thorn by Michael J. Sullivan – Review

Cover- The Rose and the Thorn

Rating: 4.0/5.0


For more than a year Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner Hadrian Blackwater from certain death. Unable to get her out of his mind, the two thieves return to Medford but receive a very different reception — Gwen refuses to see them. The victim of abuse by a powerful noble, she suspects that Royce will ignore any danger in his desire for revenge. By turning the thieves away, Gwen hopes to once more protect them. What she doesn’t realize is what the two are capable of — but she’s about to find out.

The Rose and the Thorn is the second book in the Riyria Chronicles series and follows the adventures Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn. Whereas in The Crown Tower the duo is at odds, in the second novel they’ve clearly become accustomed to one another and have reached a balanced relationship. They aren’t best friends forever or anything, but at least they’re no longer trying to kill one another.

The storyline in The Rose and the Thorn becomes a personal vendetta, which is vastly different from the first novel, where they were on a business mission. This is largely due to Royce’s feelings (yes, feelings) toward Gwen DeLancy, the lady of Medford House. If you hadn’t fit the pieces together, Royce and Hadrian come back to the city of Medford and get into great deals of trouble and Royce is generally threatening. We the readers are introduced to some additional characters, which helps to expand the breadth of the story and gives an inside perspective of the royal family and their sycophants.

There was a great deal of foreshadowing of events that will likely take place in the main trilogy, the Riyria Revelations. I haven’t read the Revelations yet, but intend to in the near-ish future. I suppose they’ll fit in my TBR pile somewhere, but seriously, Fall and Winter are busy times of year for book nerds.

To be honest, I don’t have much to say about this book- it was pretty good and fun to read, but it didn’t leave me brooding about the ending for days, rock my world, or leave me stunned and utterly speechless for thirty seconds or more. Yeah, I would definitely recommend this series, but it’s no game changer in modern fantasy writing.


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