Theft of Swords was the first book I started in 2017. Between all of the new books and authors I stumbled across and became obsessed with, the rest of Riyria somehow got lost in the mix. But I’m so happy to be ending my reading year on such a high note; the wait feels worth it.
I loved Theft of Swords because it was fun and engaging and harkened back to some of the foundations of the fantasy genre. I loved the relationship between Hadrian and Royce, and I wanted to know more about who they are and the events that formed them. In this second omnibus, I got some of the information I sought, especially regarding Hadrian. I got more bromance and more moral conflict, which made me happy. Hadrian and Royce aren’t my absolute favorite bromance, because that title will always be reserved for Scott Lynch’s Locke and Jean, but they’re definitely in my top five. I love their development in Rise of Empire, and I can’t wait to see how they further develop in Heir of Novron.
Yet again, there is a cast of secondary characters that is absolutely wonderful. The book starts with the introduction of Amilia, a maid in the castle of the new Empress. Through a series of random events, she finds herself promoted from maid to secretary of the Empress, tasked with bringing Modina out of her shell and helping form her into the Empress the Empire believes she should be. Amilia is in over her head, but she is intelligent and diligent and, most importantly, fiercely loyal to her ward.
We also meet Wesley, a midshipman aboard the Emerald Storm. Wesley is incredibly straight-laced and can often appear stuck-up, but there’s much more to him. This nobleman turned sailor is the epitome of honor, loyal and honest and fair to a fault. Though his manners may be stilted, he never backs down from making the hard decision, even when it’s not in his personal best interest.
But my absolute favorite character in this book is one we met in Theft of Swords: Princess Arista. In Theft of Swords, Arista was interesting but definitely a background character. In Rise of Empire, Arista’s character develops dramatically, taking centerstage even over Hadrian and Royce. In my opinion, she’s the character with the most richness and depth in the entire series, and I can’t wait to see how she further develops in the last omnibus of the series. I’ve read a lot of fantasy, and I have no qualms about saying that Arista Essendon is one of the best developed female characters I’ve come across in the genre.
There was one character from the first omnibus who wasn’t present in the second and who I really missed: Myron. He’s the cutest, sweetest cinnamon roll of a man I’ve ever come across, and I wish there was an entire series just about him. However, I’ve been informed by reliable sources that he’ll be more present in Heir of Novron, and I’m thrilled at the prospect of seeing him again.
Again, I hate that I waited so long (almost a year!) between reading Theft of Swords and Rise of Empire, but I have no regrets. I was able to end the year with a book that I absolutely love, and I have what I’ve been told is an amazing conclusion to look forward to as my first read of 2018. It’s been a wonderful year, full of fantastic stories and friendships founded on a mutual love of books, and I’m excited to see what the new years brings. Happy New Year, everyone! May your 2018 be incredible, and stuffed to the brim with fabulous books!