Published: December 14, 2011
Pages: 786 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A PUPPET IS CROWNED. THE TRUE HEIR REMAINS HIDDEN. A ROGUE’S SECRET COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING.
War has come to Melengar and once more Royce and Hadrian are hired to make a desperate gamble and form an alliance with the Nationalists whom are fighting the Imperialists in the south. As the power of the Nyphron Empire grows, so does Royce’s suspicion that the wizard Esrahaddon is using the thieves as pawns in his own grab for power. To find the truth, he must unravel the secret of Hadrian’s past–what he discovers may end their friendship and break Riyria in two.
Apologies in advance if this review seems a bit scattered. Much to my chagrin, I realized I didn’t finish writing this post two weeks ago and had to pick up where I left off!
Can I even express my love for these books enough? The answer is no, I can’t because they’re fantastic! Not only does the storyline get even more interesting with every passing page, but the characters also keep evolving and become more detailed and realistic. As with the previous book, I dedicated my time to Rise of Empire at every opportunity, no matter how short a time.
Rise of Empire begins with Hadrian trying to retire from Riyria because he feels that he’s done nothing meaningful with his life, while Royce is trying to convince him to go on one more job. The job happens to be one of utmost importance to the kingdom of Melengar and the pair set off with Arista Essendon the princess and ambassador to locate Degan Gaunt, leader of the nationalists. Of course nothing is easy – the empire is in control of most of the other kingdoms, there are lots of dangerous elements in play, and for Merebor’s sake, Royce and Hadrian are trying to find the Heir of Novron!
This installment introduces us to a few new characters that are extremely important, namely Amelia, Nimbus, and Merrick, but there’s also a ton of other characters that appear. It’s a busy book, with Royce and Hadrian travelling all from Medford to Hintendar to Ratibor and even hopping aboard a ship to Calais. I think they hit every major city that’s ever been mentioned in the books and it’s like a quick and dirty tour of the world. It’s probably the worst world tour ever (not at all a vacation) because people keep trying to kill Royce, Hadrian, and Arista at every turn, but it’s a great way to introduce parts of Elan that would otherwise only be shadowy names at the edge of your recollection.
Arista’s character development in Rise of Empire was part of what made this book so awesome. She went from a decent sketch to finely detailed drawing. I love that she gets an opportunity to really shine and she’s a spectacular fictional role model AND the best part is she’s intelligent, adaptable, and she doesn’t instantly fall in love with the most obvious choice! She’s entirely too busy being a “wizardess”, running a city, executing military operations, and lurking about as a scullery maid to have time to really fall in love with anyone for real.
Though I feel as if I’m repeating myself for the hundredth time, I will say it again – Michal J. Sullivan is an artist and these books are a masterpiece. Royce and Hadrian may have surpassed Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen as my favorite thieving duo of all time. I am anxiously awaiting my first opportunity to foist a book recommendation upon some unsuspecting friend because without a doubt this series will be one of the first to come to mind.