Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Adult, Magic
It's Michael J. Sullivan.
It's Royce and Hadrian.
Of course it is phenomenal.
"Wait! What is it? What is Riyria? What does it mean?”
“It's elvish...for two.”
The Rose and the Thorn had been sitting on my bookshelf for months. Reading it was a physical need, but I kept postponing it because I knew that when I gave in, I would move one step closer to the end, and a point in my life when there wouldn't be any new adventures of my favorite thieves, and that was depressing. Two days ago, I finally caved in. And it was wonderful.
“I'll make a human being out of him yet.”
For those who haven't read Riyria Revelations, The Rose and the Thorn is the gripping story of two incredibly different men who became a team, a boy that was bullied but became a hero nonetheless and a conspiracy to get rid of the royal family that was uncovered by a young prostitute and led to great losses, violence and ashes. For those who have read Riyria Revelations, this is the story of how an awkward but brave young Hilfred saved Arista and became her guard, how Royce and Hadrian met their partner in crime, Albert, and established their reputation as creative problems solvers, and why Gwen named her tavern The Rose and The Thorn. Events that were mentioned in Revelations came in the spotlight and gave us a better understanding of how and why our beloved characters were made this way, we learned more about King Amrath and we witnessed the first attempts of the villains to shape the world to their liking.
“Even if you're doing it for selfish reasons, you're still helping to save his life. It just goes to show that good can come from helping a stranger, and it proves that the world isn't so bad after all.”
Returning to Melengar was bittersweet. I was content to revisit places and people that are now a part of me, but at the same time, knowing their fates and the suffering they would endure in the future made this experience painful, heartbreaking. I was overcome with melancholy and nostalgia, I wanted to spare them from all the ugly things and the hurt, but I was helpless. So I sat aside, and let Mr. Sullivan guide me, through dark alleys and dim-lighted corridors, stables and haunted towers. I let him show me how vulnerable Hilfred had been, and how Gwen wanted to protect Royce from the first moment she met him, how cruelty is a trait of poor and rich men and women alike, but so is kindness. I participated in swordfights and plots and hideous murders and I cheered for a noble swordsman and a cruel assassin that were unaware of their potential for greatness. And I could picture Michael Sullivan winking with mischief when a connection was made between the past and the present.
“I don't think you've lost enough blood that you'd be suffering delusions yet. You must just be confused. I'm not assaulting you. I'm murdering you.”
The dialogues were witty, as per usual, and sassiness and sarcasm were all over the place. Hadrian was a soft marshmallow, Royce the human equivalent of Grumpy Cat, which resulted in constant arguing and lessons, of humanity or cruelty, depending on the teacher. The things Royce did were disturbing, but I never believed he is soulless. He has a soul, but it's buried under thick layers of darkness, mistrust, anger, rejection and bitterness, and it needs patience and effort to dig though them and reveal what a great person he can be. And this person is Gwen. Her kindness was confusing to Royce, but she made him feel something good, something different that terrified him but also liberated him.
“One day you'll remember this moment. It will have faded to a mere wisp, a ghost of a long-forgotten past, but it will return to you.”
There is a chance I teared up a little (or a lot).
Michael J. Sullivan is indeed a master storyteller, and he created a vibrant world of action, adventure and friendship. Don't hesitate to give Royce and Hadrian a chance to steal your mind, your heart and your breath!