Ever since I’ve finished his Riyria series (both Revelations and Chronicles), I’ve been recommending them to my family and friends either as a gateway to fantasy or as a breath of fresh air amidst all the grimdark of contemporary fantasy. And in just a short space of a year, I’ve reread all of Riyria and was hungry for more of his stories.
Age of Myth was more than up to task of satisfying my longing. Set in the same world 3,000 years ago, the Legends of the First Empire series is the actual account of the historical events that will eventually lead to the story of our two favourite thieves.
To take a quote from Michael J Sullivan’s recent blogpost:
”Age of Myth is a small story that will launch an epic tale that will lay the foundations for a world where in three thousand years two thieves will uncover much of what was lost, but so many more revelations remain to be discovered.”
True to his words, reading about and meeting these heroes and legends that shaped the Elan we know of in Riyria Revelations felt epic even though the story at this point was still relatively small in scale. And it all started when two Rhunes dared to venture across the Bern River into the forbidden lands of the Fhrey, leading into events which will change the world forever.
There were elements of worldbuilding to introduce the reader to a more primitive rendition of Elan and as such, the first one-third of the book had a slower pacing. However, MJS' improved writing skills made the journey really pleasant and... comforting (if such a word can be used to describe a reading experience). There's a real fluidity to how the story was built up with the introduction of key characters with the last third of the book really picking up in pace. The climax was superbly written, but nonetheless, the story has merely begun.
This is the start, just the turning of leaves. Winter is still on its way.
The narrative was told from a limited third person perspective of a few main characters which brings the reader closer to their development. I also really liked how each chapter was preceded by an excerpt from the in-world "The Book of Brin" that was thematically appropriate to what unfolded therein. Those who have read The Death of Dulgath will also appreciate an 'Easter egg' in that book that was linked to this Legends series.
As with the Riyria series, the characters in this book are those whom you want to know better and happily spend lots of time with. The author really has a gift in creating personalities which are relatable, whether they are likeable or not is a different question. Being able to create realistic and truly odious villains is also an art. I will like to again salute MJS for his ability to write the most amazing female characters to ever grace the pages of any fantasy book. Every time he introduces a new female character, she displaces an existing one on my top 10 list. And in the Age of Myth, there were more than one. Persephone is the epitome of a woman who is smart, strong, and yet extremely graceful in her portrayal of such attributes (bear in mind, the human race was still pretty primitive at that time and official female leadership was non-existent). And then there is Arion of the Fhrey, a female Miraliyth who also demonstrated wisdom and quiet strength, albeit not in reference to her powers, over her more arrogant male peers. Last but not least, the wild mystical child, Suri and her wolf, wonderfully wise yet naive at the same time.
As you can probably tell, I loved this book and am very eager for its sequel, Age of Swords.
Thanks Michael, for again sharing such a wonderful story of characters that we want to care about.