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496 pages, Hardcover
First published July 25, 2017
We were the same age, but I do not recall seeing him in Tirre. I have been told that he was little more than an animal then, an abandoned boy surviving the aftermath in the shadows and tall grass. No one could have guessed what he would become. I know I did not.
--THE BOOK OF BRIN
I have always worshipped heroes in stories. I had no idea I was surrounded by them.
--THE BOOK OF BRIN
Sometimes you see a painting that is too polished, too perfect, to the point that it loses its essence. Have you ever read a book that felt this way? I know I’ve never read such a book before Age of Swords. It was too refined and I think that’s because Sullivan had already written the whole series. It felt flat. However, if I had to describe the book in one word, I’d simply say it’s boring. I haven’t read the Riyria series so I’m pretty sure this affected my reading experience a bit although Michael mentioned that it shouldn’t in the first book.
I have so many problems with this book to the extent that it’s hard to determine where to start. I read Age of Myth last year. Even though the book kept me interested enough to finish it in a short time –something this book terribly failed at- many things kept my expectations at bay for the next installment. The world wasn’t original, I’ve seen it all. Aside from a minor twist or two (mainly at the end and it wasn’t even handled well in AoS until the last chapter “inserting another twist”) it was predictable and fun, but not impressive. None of the characters were memorable and the whole book wasn’t. It just fell under the great shelf of meh. Entertaining but lacking.
Age of Swords picks up right after the last events of Age of Myth. After Raithe killed that strong Fhrey, Gryndal (whose name I’ve forgotten and had to recheck because it's not easy to memorize and I didn't care about him), they sent giants to kill them all in Rhen. After almost massacring everyone, they were defeated. However, the dahl wasn’t safe anymore and mostly damaged. They were forced to go to another Clan to try to gather all the Rhunes leaders to start a war.
I need to say this: please authors, using complicated names DOESN'T make your book more of a fantasy. It turns the readers’ attention away because they have no idea how to pronounce them, especially if ä, ë, or any other letter from outside the English language that most readers don't know how to pronounce it, is used. I mean sure, foreign names are cool and all, but sometimes, I just read the first few letters and skip the whole name. The Dherg's words are the worst... One would expect with all these long names, Michael would’ve chosen another name for Fhrey. I mean come on, it’s too close to fey. So original. It's just doesn't make sense when we have short words like Suri and Brin.
Back to AoS, it took me ages to finish it. I was bored 99% of the time. I considered dropping it a lot but forced myself to finish it. Was it worth it? Not really. However, this is an arc and I needed to review it. Plus, with all the 5 stars ratings, I thought there might be something more at the end. A mind-blowing twist or an important revelation but no, nothing. This book was so predictable. It offered no surprises at all. It’s also too long. 350 pages only, would’ve been much better. We had so little action. MJS said that he needed to develop his characters in this book. I think that’s the job of the first book but whatever. Sure character dev is always needed but a book focusing on nothing but them? And they’re nothing memorable/outstanding? Maybe if you deeply cared about the characters and lived you wouldn’t have minded. But I didn’t. Trying to develop the characters turned into very long descriptions and recycled thinking about the world and their destinies. Anyway, my favorite books are always more character-driven than anything else. Thus, I don’t mind slow books, not at all. However, this wasn’t just slow, it was painfully boring and tedious. Nothing was happening most of the time. Too many inner monologues and contemplations. I just skipped paragraphs to reach the dialogues which weren’t anything special. They were mostly awkward especially when it came to Raithe’s chapters. Not even the last chapters were exciting.
I was watching a video yesterday about what makes good villains. One word can summarize everything: nuance. It made me pay more attention to Mawyndulë’s, whom I’ll call from now on Mawy, actions. Saying I hated this brat is an understatement. He’s plain stupid and the twist that happened towards the end was so obvious and long foreseen that I wasn’t sure if we can call it a twist. He’s arrogant, shallow, and easily manipulated. Okay… so we have these people in real life. The video also mentioned that the little things that the villain cares about that are unrelated to his evilness makes us appreciate him. So when I saw Mawy contemplating the leaves and trying to be philosophical, I was delighted. Until I read that he felt better about himself, specifically wiser and more profound than most people because “he alone appreciated the value of a leaf drifting on a stream”. This ruined his character for me forever. His chapters were too long and too many. Useless and dull, I still tried to see why MJS wrote them. I know they serve the story but they could be summarized in few paragraphs (and I can do it in a few words).
I couldn’t find a thing to like about Raithe. Oh, we’re Dureyans and we suck. Oh, I can’t do anything so stop talking to me. Oh, Persephone marry me. Oh, I'm so weak. Oh, I’m so depressed and the world is hard. Oh, wait. He’s a Dureyan. The world is hard. PLEASE STOP THE MELODRAMA. He was like a teenage girl nagging for God’s sake. Also, he was the typical character in most fantasy books who refused to embrace his role but will come around eventually.
The first thing I mentioned in my review was the new inventions. I had no idea the Rhunes were so primitive in Age of Swords. If they live within the same world of a too advanced species, do you want me to believe that they didn’t learn anything from them? Not even fuckin buttons? Or fuckin WHEELS? They traded all the time!!! But it’s fine. This didn’t annoy me as much as the whole new stuff was invented by the same person. WITHIN A FEW WEEKS ONLY. Roan invented x and y but never before someone invented these very primitive stuff. Not that only, she was able to do it all at once. Then Brin created writing within a few days. SERIOUSLY? !
What surprised me the most is people who have never seen a bow use words like “sorta” and “kinda” and sentences like “where are you off to”. This speech indicates a very developed civilization. I’m sure they’ll stay the same in the final copy because they were also present in AoM and while I didn’t know that they were so behind, I didn’t like this style in high fantasy. Especially when used by a tough Durayen warrior. It makes things even worse.
All of this will make you wonder, why 2 stars and not 1? You see, with all the bad boring stuff, I applaud MJS for making decent female characters and giving them such importance and a big role in making history. Many male authors, even females, fail at creating likable women, especially in high fantasy. Even though I didn’t fall in love with them and that’s mainly the book’s fault (aka boredom and slow pacing) and not their character, Moya and Suri were my favorites. So yeah, that was the only redeeming quality in this book. I might drop my rating later, though. Who knows?
Briefly said, this book bored me to tears. It was dull and too long. The characters weren’t memorable and sometimes annoying but I appreciate the strong female characters. I don’t know if I’ll continue with this series. I don't think you need a book to just develop your characters while little else is going on. I've read enough books to know it doesn't work like this.The author shouldn't make excuses for his book. At this rate I'm gonna publish a book that is crap and say sorry I was really sick while writing this, please keep that in mind... My admiration would increase if I fell in love with the book and later learned it was written while the author was very sick. If he said this before I start the novel, he'd immediately lose points. MJS said in the author’s note (that was way too long in which the author congratulated himself that his books reached GR nominees, didn’t even win. This is always a bad sign) that this book is his favorite in this series. If that’s the case, I have no idea if I still want to continue with The Legends of the First Empire. Since everybody says that the Riyria Revelations is better, I’m going to give this author another chance. Hopefully, I’ll read the first book later this year but AoS wasn’t encouraging at all.
arc provided via NetGalley
“There always seemed to be a better way, except when it came to people. Once broken, people couldn't be repaired.”
“Every life is a journey filled with crossroads. And then there are the bridges, those truly frightening choices that span what always was, from what will forever be. Finding the courage, or stupidity, to cross such bridges changes everything”
“That's the thing about hatred, it can become rancid, and it'll turn into poison if you keep it bottled too long. Hatred will eat through any container and seep into the groundwater of a soul. Revenge is never enough to expel it because it keeps bubbling up anew. What you don't realize–can't really–is that by that time, it's all you are. You don't have the hate in you. The hate is you. When that wine is consumed, you won't ever be able to rid yourself of it. Can't vomit it up or spit it out. It'd be as impossible as escaping yourself.”
“I know nothing about war. But let me tell you what I believe. I think running from responsibility breeds self-loathing and despair. I think people can, and do, rise to the occasion, and even a single person can make an incredible difference. What they need are leaders who believe in them, a belief that gives birth to hope. With hope, people can do remarkable things, amazing things. Between hope and despair, I’ll take hope every time.”
“Although men were strong like rocks, any stone could crack. Women were more like water. They nurtured life and could shape the hardest granite through unrelenting determination.”
“It's easier to believe the most outlandish lie that confirms what you suspect than the most obvious truth that denies it.”
“A lot can be determined by the choices we make, even if the action is initiated by self-preservation. Many ... no, most ... of our choices are driven by fear: fear of death, fear of humiliation, fear of loneliness. But it's how we respond to fear that matters. It's what defines us. What makes us who we are. So maybe in your mind you acted selfishly, but I'm alive because of the choice you made. So I'll remember it as an act of kindness and yes, even bravery.”
“Every life is a journey filled with crossroads. And then there are the bridges, those truly frightening choices that span what always was, from what will forever be. Finding the courage, or stupidity, to cross such bridges changes everything.”
“Losing leaves a bitter taste that lingers long after the sweetness of victory has been forgotten.”
“Funny how things that shouldn’t matter actually meant so much and how things as permanent as homes moved.”
“The gathering that changed the course of human history was nothing more than a circle of chairs filled mainly with stupid, vain men.”
“Persephone had been so fixated on getting swords that she never considered the perils of where the path might lead, or what she’d need to suffer to travel it.”
ஓ Every life is a journey filled with crossroads. And then there are the bridges, those truly frightening choices that span what always was, from what will forever be. Finding the courage, or stupidity, to cross such bridges changes everything. ஓ
There’s always a cost. And I can’t imagine those pretty wings come cheap. Nothing has so far.”
“The Dherg are notoriously untrustworthy. Deceit is their first language and selfishness their creed, so they expect the same from others. They launched a war with my people because they thought we concealed a fruit that granted eternal life. When we told them no such fruit existed, they thought we were lying because it’s what they would have done. They’ll do anything to get what they want. Personally, I’d never broker a deal with them, but this is a good gamble.
I think we've just witnessed the world shift, and I doubt it'll ever be the same again.
Although men were strong like rocks, any stone could crack. Women were more like water. They nurtured life and could shape the hardest granite through unrelenting determination.
Most people pitied Gifford and a few even despised him. He never understood either.
“Losing leaves a bitter taste that lingers long after the sweetness of victory has been forgotten.”
“I think we’ve just witnessed the world shift, and I doubt it’ll ever be the same again.”
There are many lies spoken during a war, even more before one. That is how they start.