After reading that opening sentence, you’ll probably think "what’s this dude talking about when he rated the book only 3.5/5 stars?”, let me enlighten you a bit on why and to do this, I'll have to compare my experience on Age of Myth with The Crown Conspiracy, the first book in Riyria Revelations series, because the differences in experience is like heaven and hell.
Coming into Age of Myth, I realized I will always be on the odd side of the fan base where I can’t bring myself to thoroughly love the first book of a series by Sullivan. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good book, I do have some problems with it that made me rolled my eyes but overall I really enjoyed my experience with it. One of the reasons for this is because this time, I started the book with the right expectation compared to when I started Riyria Revelations.
Back when I started Theft of Swords omnibus, everyone I know told me something like "Riyria Revelations is the most epic fantasy series with the best bromance ever". I strongly disagree with that notion on both accounts. First, there’s nothing epic about it, you won’t see any kind of huge war to save the world kind of events. Second, Royce and Hadrian do has a great friendship; I wouldn’t go so far as calling them the best because although I love Hadrian, my feeling towards Royce is just okay. The thing is, no one told me that the start of the series would be so underwhelming, unoriginal, boring and weak. I started Riyria Revelations with very high and wrong expectation, The Crown Conspiracy is in fact the worst first book to a series I’ve ever read. I’ve never rated a first book of a series with 2/5 stars except for it. However, enough about that, I’m not here to talk about Riyria Revelations, all you have to know is that I dislike Theft of Swords and yet, the last book of the series, Heir of Novron remained in my favorite shelves.
My point is, if you’re new to Sullivan’s work, I’m going to be an asshole and say, do not trust the fan base blindly, just come to this one with zero expectation. I’m sorry to say this but the fans love towards Royce and Hadrian is way too strong, if Sullivan writes something about Royce and Hadrian learning how to make Sushi, it will still receive a five stars rating from most of the fans I guarantee it. My experience towards this book has increased significantly because I truly know what I’m getting into, and you should too, or even better, be completely oblivious to it. Honestly though, I bought this book just because the cover was done by one of my favorite cover artist, Marc Simonetti, I mean.. look at it, it’s freaking gorgeous.
Anyway, on to the review itself (Yes, I’m just getting started.)
Age of Myth is the first book out of six on Sullivan’s newest series, The Legends of the First Empire, and judging from the first book only, this series already has the potential to be even better than Riyria Revelations. For those of you who don’t know, Sullivan’s publishing method is different to most authors. He wrote the entire series first before releasing it periodically, that way you don’t have to be scared of the series not being completed even if Sullivan himself were teleported to another dimension. For more details on this, just read the author’s note or just ask Sullivan himself, he will be happy to tell you why in detail. This method, however also means that the first book has the tendency to be the weakest out of the entire series, like the case with Riyria Revelations. The great thing is, if this series follows the same sense of progression in quality, then yes, this could be even better by Riyria Revelations by the end of it judging from how superior the first book is in comparison.
The plot started when Raithe, a Rhune (human) killed a Fhrey (Elf), which were worshiped as Gods during this era. This sparks the flame of rebellions and basically, Age of Myth revolves only around introducing the main characters and how the human gathered their army for the upcoming war. There aren’t a lot of things happening in the first book, the plot is super predictable, the villain in this book is laughable at best but that’s okay, because the plot this time flows really well. I finished reading the book within two days, it was addictive to read despite not a lot of things happening, the main reason for this is due to the lovable characters and prose.
Although I personally don’t care about Raithe, imo he’s really bland and unlikeable as the main character, Malcolm and as Sullivan’s trademark, the female characters are highly lovable. Sullivan’s main strength is writing realistic and compelling female characters without them being mega strong with swords or martial arts, it’s one of the thing I will always praise him for. Age of Myth showed a major improvement in Sullivan’s characterization, Riyria Revelations required four books to make me care about the characters, this time Sullivan did it in one. Malcolm, Persephone, Suri, and Minna (a white wolf) are definitely my favorite characters of the book so far. I don’t know if this is a coincidence or not but the resemblance between Suri and Minna with Princess Mononoke is uncanny, which is a plus because I love that anime.
Picture: How I envisioned Suri (Princess Mononoke fanart by muju on deviantArt)
Sullivan is really great at providing his series with lore and histories that lasted thousands of years; this series is in fact the dissection of legends told in Riyria Revelations, if you have read the series, you’ll find a lot of Easter Eggs to the series here. However, do know that if this is your first time diving into Sullivan’s work, it's okay for you to start from here and do know that you won’t find anything new in the world-building. It’s classic fantasy, with dwarfs, elves, and many more elements that’s been done repeatedly. Sullivan however made up for this lack of originality with his prose, which in my opinion has increased significantly in quality. I was never bored reading through the book, it’s easy to read, simple, vivid and highly addictive.
The rest of the problems I had with the book mostly lie within its convenience factor. The climax of this book book for instance, it lasted a full chapter of battle but it ended within two paragraphs after a character (you can probably guess who) which were there since the beginning of the climax section, decided to join. Not to mention that it was done so easily, I don’t think this character received a scratch throughout the whole book. Although the characters are lovable, Suri and Minna aside, the characters seems to be a carbon copy from Riyria Revelations with different name, specifically Raithe, Malcolm and Persephone. This of course has the potential to change when I progressed further into the series. Lastly, I may be being nit picky here but I find some of characters naming here to be completely out of place. There are some modern contemporary names like Sarah and Jason for example, this of course would be okay if everyone is named the same way but it’s not. It took my immersion away every time some modern names were mentioned in a high fantasy books. Can you imagine if Legolas were named Kevin? Or Aragorn were named Jim? Frodo named Daniel? Exactly.
Overall, I truly enjoyed reading Age of Myth despite the problems I had with it. It’s really well written that it made me overlook some problems that made me rolled my eyes. Considering that this is only the first book out of six, by Michael Sullivan, I have high hopes that the last book of the series will again be included in my favorite shelves. Recommended for anyone who love classic fantasy or looking into starting adult high fantasy for the first time.