Published: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Riyria Enterprises, LLC
Pages: 448 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start life as rogues-for-hire. Things have gone well enough until they’re asked to help prevent a murder. Now they must venture into an ancient corner of the world to save a mysterious woman who knows more about Royce than is safe and cares less about herself than is sane.
After taking a short break following my binge-listen of the Riyria Revelations series, I decided I couldn’t hold out any longer and got The Death of Dulgath. I can honestly say that I can NEVER get enough of Royce and Hadrian. They are consistently entertaining and I love reading about all these ridiculously adventurous adventures! The Death of Dulgath feels a little different than the other books in the series. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but eventually I realized that it seems like magic was more present in this one than the others. Sure, there are a couple magicians in the Revelations, but this has the air of unnoticed, taken for granted magic that permeates the land rather than just being wielded by a few individuals.
This installment was kind of a prelude to the events happening in the Riyria Revelations (RR for short) series- I’ll try not to spoil anything for those who haven’t read that yet, so here goes. The first thing is that Royce is part elf- this plays a big role in the plot of RR but I won’t reveal any of that here. It explains why he’s so stealthy and can see in the dark- characteristics which made him an excellent assassin and thief. There are some other reveals that will make more sense to those who’ve read Age of Myth, though will become more obvious with later installments of that series. The biggest prelude to RR is the machinations of the Church of Novron that are exposed here. The Novronians are worming their way into power across the countries- installing imperialists into high ranking positions to make things easier in the future- and Royce and Hadrian stumble upon it during this job. I love how tightly MJS has woven his stories together!
I’m not even going to tell you how much I love Royce and Hadrian because I’ve made that abundantly clear in my other reviews, so instead I’ll focus on a few other characters. Nissa Dulgath is the new Lady Dulgath following the passing of her father and someone is trying to assassinate her. Riyria are called in as consulting assassins to help shore up the defenses and inform the weasel Lord Fawkes how an assassin would try to do her in. Not suspicious or anything, right? Lord Fawkes is the church’s pawn and is in play to take over Dulgath once Nissa has been dealt with by the ‘assassin’. A painter is working on a portrait for Lady Dulgath and he’s madly in love with her- apparently he’s also a threat to Lord Fawkes and his dastardly plan. As a side note, the painter reminds me of the one in Guy Gavriel Kay’s book Children of Earth and Sky (just a little). Scarlet Dodge was my favorite second only to our favorite duo. Her previous associate with Royce in the Black Diamond, and her current life as an entertainer in Dulgath made her so intriguing! I thought perhaps she was the assassin sent to Dulgath, but I was wrong on that count.
MJS writes some of the best prequels in the world of SF/F and The Death of Dulgath is no different. The character development is stellar and each one of them adds heaps of detail to the world and further fleshes out those interesting references in RR. He doesn’t waste words or publish mediocre stuff just because he knows fans will buy it. Each of his books that I’ve read (and that’s all of them) has been excellent quality storytelling! I can’t recommend them enough!