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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2017)
A Goodreads Choice Award Nomination for Best Fantasy Novel of 2017

The gods have been proven mortal and new heroes will arise as the battle continues in the sequel to Age of Myth--from the author of the Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles series.

In Age of Myth, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan launched readers on an epic journey of magic and adventure, heroism and betrayal, love and loss. Now the thrilling saga continues as the human uprising is threatened by powerful enemies from without--and bitter rivalries from within.

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess renders them indistinguishable from gods?

The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feel nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid--a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits, as fearsome as it is deadly.

496 pages, Hardcover

First published July 25, 2017

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About the author

Michael J. Sullivan

110 books92.6k followers
Esrahaddon, the last book in the Rise and Fall trilogy, is almost done. Just finished the recording of the audiobook, and the layout. Will pass it by Gamma readers for one last quality check then it's off to the printers!

In other news, Farilane, hit #1 on Amazon's Bestselling Epic Fantasy list! The ebook and audiobook are already released, and the hardcover will release on May 16th.

Thanks for visiting my page! Here are other sites where you can contact me.

I'm a New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestselling author with 9 Goodreads Choice Award Nominations.

I first opened the door to my imagination with typewriter keys while playing hide and seek and finding a black behemoth when I just ten years old. Serious writing started in my twenties, but after more than a decade trying to publish (and getting nowhere), I quit altogether. I returned to writing in 2004, and published my first novel with a small press in 2008. If you had told me that I'd be a New York Times Bestselling author, have 85+ novels translated into 13 languages, and sold more than 2 million copies, I never would have believed you!

But now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you a bit about my books, which can be broken down into two main series.

THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE: The foundations of Elan are laid by an unlikely band of misfits.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer. Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom. And Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.

THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS & CHRONICLES: The strongest bonds of friendship are forged in blood.

They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.
There's no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they're framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it's too late.

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Profile Image for Michael.
Author 110 books92.6k followers
Want to read
August 29, 2018
Those who are familiar with me know I don't review my own books, but I do use this space as of a kind of a placeholder to let people keep up to date on its status.

08/29/2018 Update: The hardcover edition of Age of Swords is now officially out of print. Resellers have been charging $88 - $191 for copies of the book...outrageous! But no worries, with the help of a crowdfunding campaign, we've purchased the excess stock and you can get the books from us for just $28 ($22 if you buy the book via the IndieGoGo campaign, which runs through September 19th.

11/07/2017 Update: Age of Swords has been nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy of 2017! My thanks go out to all the people who did a write-in vote for it in the opening round. It now joins five other books in the semi-finals. Vote for your favorite here!

10/12/2017 Update: I've been so busy with Age of War and The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter that I've not been watching the reviews of Age of Swords from the blogging community. But a quote from this one caught my eye. "With every addition to this universe, Sullivan proves he is one of the most talented and captivating authors currently at work." - Fantasy Book Review. Wow, I'm speechless. Writing is its own reward, but comments like this surely brightens one day!

07/25/2017 Update:It's Release Day! Thanks everyone for the amazing pre-ordering support!

07/23/2017 Update:It's just 2 days until the big release. And I'm oh so excited. Nothing left to do now but wait, and I'm glad to see the early ARC reviews coming in so positively. Publisher's Weekly concluded their review thusly: "The unusual technological level and prevalence of thoughtful women as leading characters set this apart from other fantasies." I hope this is a sign of good things to come. The real proof will come when readers who don't have access to ARC's start weighing in...won't be long now.

05/26/2017 Update:I've been listening through the entire audio book as part of the proofing process. Found only a few minor things, which will be easy for Tim to re-record. But all in all it's a great production, and as always Tim has done a phenomenal job.

05/14/2017 Update:The book is now off to the printer! The proofer made some great catches and now the book is completely and utterly "locked down." Wont' be long now before we get "real" copies of the books as opposed to the ARC's. Exciting times!

02/14/2017 Update: Forgot to mention a pretty important update. The book is now FINISHED and in production for layout! This is a major milestone for any book and that means I can take my attention off of it as the story is "locked down" and really can't have any more changes. Yes, there will be a final review of the proof, which might adjust a comma or two, but other than really glaring errors, it's "in the can" as they say in the movie business. Very excited!!

02/12/2017 Update: The audiobook for Age of Swords is up for preorder!. I want to thank my publisher, Recorded Books for getting this posted sooner than they normally would. I keep getting so many questions about "When will the audio be released -- I think because people are concerned that it won't be available at the same time as the hardcover/ebook -- that this helps to offset those questions. I'm so glad people are excited for it.

01/28/2017 Update:We are in the final stretch. I have the copy edits back from Laura at Del Rey so the book will be "locked" as soon as I go through them. It's getting close now folks!!

01/26/2017 Update: Production on the book is moving at a nice pace. I already have copy edits from one of the copy editors and expect the second set from editor #2 later today. Also, we have the full-cover design in. Click on the image to see a higher resolution version

12/15/2016 Update
The book is officially submitted to the production side of the house at Del Rey, which means it's in the hands of the copy editors. I actually am using two different copy editors for this book - Linda Branam, who worked on The Death of Duglath and Age of Myth, and Laura Jorstad who worked on the same books as Linda but also Hollow World. Both are remarkably talented and will definitely make the book so much better than if I were left on my own.

The cover is now official and has been released to the public at large. Here's a slightly larger version than Goodreads has attached to the book.

Pre-order pages are up at all of the major sites such as Amazon | Barnes & Noble.

9/9/2016 Update
The book has been (a) sent to the publisher (b) my agent (c) a group of beta testers. So it's moving through the process. I've seen some rough sketches of the cover (once again the amazing Marc Simonetti will be doing it) and they are looking really good. The on sale date is tentatively set for 6/20/17 - assuming we can get a final book ready for copy editors in December, and I think that is doable.

6/3/2016 Update
We are at Phoenix Comic Con and Robin has started her official copy editing in preparation for running the beta read of this book in early July. If you would like to sign up to be a beta reader, you can at this link.

4/22/2016 Update
Took some time out of editing book #5 to come up with a bit of a description for book #2. You can read it in the description above. Beta should be starting "soonish" to sign up here is a link

2/21/2016 Update
The book has been written, alpha read by Robin, and edited based on her changes. Robin is going to be going through it one more time and doing some line/copy editing and then it will be ready for beta reading. At that time it will also be sent to my publisher for "official submission" so they'll provide their structural (content) editing comments so that I can incorporate both the publisher's and the beta reader's comments at the same time.

If you are interested in being involved in the beta read you can sign up here. Since this the second book in the series, some beta readers will receive the first book and some will be reading it without (so we can get feedback from both kinds of readers).
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,613 followers
December 26, 2018
UPDATE: In Audible US sale 12/26/18

FREAKING YES! NETGALLEY, YOU CAME THROUGH FOR ME AGAIN! Although, I already know I'm going to buy the hardback when the price lowers a little like I did the first book =)


Michael J. Sullivan is an amazing author. I love his books and I still have some of his books to finish. I'm really loving this series, but I did cry because I didn't like one thing that happened. =( Although, who knows what might happen next that will make me happy =)


I love pretty much every one in this book. The gang. There are so many of them. And this book starts out with a bang. It wastes no time in getting right down to business, which is an attack. I will keep said attack to myself but it's really sad and bad.

I mentioned how much I love these characters and there is a new little boy named Tesh that I love so much. He's going to be trained by Raithe and I can't wait to read more about him.

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.


Yes, Brin still has writings at the beginning of the chapters.

The group is on the move to stay somewhere else and try and get some things resolved.

The women and a couple of the boys have a big quest on their own. Those women and girls are so strong and I don't mean they are bad to the bone. I mean they can fight as much as they can, they take care of one another, they figure things out. They are just amazing. I love that there are so many in the book.

Anyway, I'm very happy with this second book in the series. It's pretty much amazeballs!

I have always worshipped heroes in stories. I had no idea I was surrounded by them.


*Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for a digital copy of this book.*

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Nicole.
731 reviews1,829 followers
April 29, 2021
Welcome to the fastest evolution ever. From the discovery of pockets and wheels to writing (that’s not even half of it but I lost track eventually), these few weeks changed the course of history.

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

Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
September 17, 2022
Age of Swords is another win (with one issue) from Michael J. Sullivan.

“There always seemed to be a better way, except when it came to people. Once broken, people couldn't be repaired.”

As stated in my Age of Myth review, I first started Legends of the First Empire in early 2017. I liked it. But I didn’t continue with the series for five years. Three months ago, I reread Age of Myth, and now, I finally finished reading Age of Swords, the second book in The Legends of the First Empire series by Michael J. Sullivan. When I speak about Michael J. Sullivan, one of his main strengths as an author, from my analysis, is that he is an author with a series with each new installment better than the previous. Or, at least, almost always the case. This was my experience with The Riyria Revelations and also The Riyria Chronicles. I did find The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter to be the weakest book (it's still a great book) in The Riyria Chronicles, but my point stands. And for now, the trend continues as I personally think Age of Swords is better compared to Age of Myth. But was it MUCH better? Well, I will elaborate on that later.

“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”

One of the premises of Age of Myth deals with the shattering of a myth that the Fhrey—Elves—are gods, and they were impossible to be killed by humans. Until a human, Raithe, killed one of the elves. Both humans and elves had to deal with the repercussion and new truth caused by this event. That's the long story short for Age of Myth, without spoilers. Age of Swords continued from where Age of Myth ended. And it, just like the title stated, mainly revolves around our group of humans preparing for war with elves. One of the most important things they need to do first is to attain swords and weapons that could match the Elves' arsenal of weaponry, skills, and magic. In hindsight, Age of Swords is a book about preparations and inventions. However, this is not to say the novel was unimportant or lacking in its revelation and character development.

Picture: Age of Swords by Marc Simonetti

The Sullivans stated that Age of Swords is their favorite installment in the entire six-books series, mainly due to one reason: this is where the supporting characters started to become someone irreplaceably important. Age of Myth mainly centers around Raithe, Suri, Arion, and Persephone. In Age of Swords, we are blessed with more POV characters to follow. Mostly from supporting characters of the series, and I think this is what made Age of Swords stronger. This installment is very much needed to develop the supporting characters, and I have no doubt each of them will play a major role in future books of the series. For example, Gifford. Gifford was no one in Age of Myth, but he has more of a role here. Within a relatively few brief appearances, Sullivan did a wonderful job in showing Gifford's strong mental fortitude, and I had so much empathy for him. Physically disabled and constantly hurt by many individuals, Gifford never relented his kindness in favor of hatred. And his kindness and selfless attitude towards Roan, in particular, made him a character that I love to support.

“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.”

On the other hand, Raithe remains unlikable, even more than how he was in Age of Myth. In Age of Myth, he was a character that I felt indifferent about, but now, he has turned into someone I completely disliked. I mean, Raithe is a type of character that constantly shouts negativity and despair while infuriatingly begging the woman he loves to be with him non-stop. This has been going on for two books now. But here's the thing. From my experience with reading Sullivan's books for the first time, Sullivan is an author that needs some time to develop his male characters. Whether intentionally or not, his male characters did not get better or likable until later installments. Remember, it took me five books to like Royce in The Riyria Revelations, and now Royce has somehow become one of my favorite characters. So all hope is not lost yet. But patience might be required to go through Raithe's POV chapters. And hey, one of the new characters Raithe met in his POV might play a major role in future books. Those who've read The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles will know who I'm talking about.

“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.”

Fortunately, there were plenty of other main characters other than Raithe to like. And yes, I'm talking about the women in the series. I will always repeat this statement, only a few fantasy authors (especially men) can write women characters as good as Sullivan. I feel like Sullivan knows how to tackle writing women who didn't need to rely on their physical or magical strengths to be valued. I'm not saying there aren't any women in his series that cannot use magic powerfully. However, Sullivan managed to make sure the capability to use magic isn't the only memorable trait of the characters. Like Suri in this series. Suri is my favorite character in the series so far, and she is one of the main characters that developed the most in Age of Swords. Suri may be talented in Art (magic), but when I hear the name Suri, I don't just remember her blossoming talent as an Artist. I also remember her kindness, loyalty, and relationship with her animal companion: Minna.

Picture: Suri and Minna by Sylvia Han

And this strong development and personality distinction aren't exclusive to Suri. Persephone showed the meaning of leadership; Moya displayed genuine bravery; Arion portrayed the importance of mentorship; Brin and Roan demonstrated how stories and inventions matter a LOT to the progress of civilization and cultures. In other words, these ladies played to their respective strengths and roles. And every single one of them was immensely likable. I loved reading about their character development, and I look forward to reading about what will happen to them next.

“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.”

With all these praises, what was the issue I had then? Well, Sullivan may have gone a bit overboard in giving the spotlight to the women of the series. What do I mean by this? Millenniums of evolutions and inventions in our world happened in a few weeks. Yes, in Age of Swords, Brin and Roan continuously crafted new invention non-stop. Wheels, carts, writing, storytelling, sword-making, armor-making, bow, arrows, and many more. All these inventions were found and happened in a few weeks. Brin and Roan seem to JUST KNOW what to do with literally everything they found. Remember, these are characters in the primitive age. Even in a fantasy world, there should still be a level of believability in world-building. Otherwise, well, it does not work. So in the primitive age, these revolutionary inventions were found and invented non-stop in a few weeks, then what logically would happen in a few thousand years? By the time The Riyria Revelations story happens, which takes place 3000 years after the end of this series, there should've been at the very least a spaceship, robocop, or even Gundam. These were distracting to my reading immersion. Although I still enjoyed Age of Swords more than Age of Myth, a huge level of suspension in belief was unleashed.

“It's easier to believe the most outlandish lie that confirms what you suspect than the most obvious truth that denies it.”

Speaking of world-building, before I close this review, I will mention that your experience of reading this series will be completely different depending on whether you've read The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles first or not. As for me, I definitely recommend you to read Royce and Hadrian's story first. There were some scenes and names in Age of Swords that left an impact on me, but they wouldn't mean a thing if I haven't read The Riyria Revelations first. But overall, regardless of your circumstances, Age of Swords is a superb preparation volume filled with crucial character developments. All of these and the concluding intense and emotional action-packed chapters certainly make me want to jump into the next book, Age of War, as soon as possible.

“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.”

You can order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Andrew W, Amanda, Annabeth, Casey, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Elias, Ellen, Ellis, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jesse, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Kristina, Lana, Leigh, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Michael, Mike, Miracle, Nanette, Neeraja, Nicholas, Reno, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Shawn, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,433 reviews828 followers
May 6, 2022
5+stars. LOVED it! I thought this was even better than Age of Myth, but as I've already given that 5 stars, there's nowhere higher to go with the rating.. Michael J Sullivan is the man with a Plan- each book has its own arc within the series arc and it shows. MIchael has said that he writes a whole series before he publishes the first one so that the whole story works well and has no inconsistencies- and it works!
This story is rousing and will make you feel good.

'they were just an insignificant band of misfits: an inexperienced chieftain, a teenage Keeper, an insecure ex-slave, a troublesome beauty, a crazy mystic, and an outcast Fhrey'

It is about the underdog, about not giving up even when there seems to be no chance of success, of love, loyalty, courage, coming of age, on the one hand and betrayal and deception on the other. Dragons, demons, elves and dwarves.
There are funny touches (many inventions and discoveries) and sad moments; this book is written by someone who understands both the human heart and psyche.
Fans of Michael J Sullivan could not and will not be disappointed. Recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,165 reviews98.2k followers
July 26, 2017
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

1.) Age of Myth ★★★★★

“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.”

It hurts my heart, but I didn't love this one as much as I loved Age of Myth! It was still a really solid addition to an epic fantasy series that I know is going to continue to be one of my favorites. And this book still follows some of my favorite characters of all time, while also introducing us to some new faces and even new races! Be still, my dwarf loving heart.

This series is set 3,000 years before Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria Revelations, but this series is meant to be read separately and there will be no spoilers if you haven't completed it or even started it. I'm guessing it will only add to the reading experience, but you won't be hindered going in blind, like me.

Age of Myth is the book that starts this epic tale, where we get to see many different characters, with their own perspectives and paths, be woven together because of a war that shouldn't be happening in the first place. We have a recently dead Chieftain's wife of one of the Rhunes (humans) clans, who is now forced into the role, even though other men want to constantly fight her for it, yet she is without a doubt the best person to lead. We get to see a young girl and her sidekick pet wolf, who have grown up in the magical forests in this world and has more power than she even knows. We learn about the Fhrey (elf) clans, who believe themselves Gods, and we get to see their inner turmoil and we also get to focus in on one unbelievably strong woman who is forced to make tough choice after tough choice. Lastly, we get to follow a poor Rhune man, who hasn't had the easiest of lives, forced into choosing between running forever or saving the very people who have stripped him of his faith in humanity all his life.

“Losing leaves a bitter taste that lingers long after the sweetness of victory has been forgotten.”

Yet, in Age of Swords we get to see these characters develop more, while also seeing a few side characters shine just as brightly. As I said above, we learn about Dwarves, or Dhergs, or Belgriclungreians, who are nothing short of amazing. We get to see disabled representation, and the way that uncivilized human clans, and some of the world leaders we have today, treat those individuals. We also have representation of a surviving girl, coping with her pain and grief, unable to be touched by others, becoming one of the most important Rhunes in existence with her craft. We get to see the primal beauty of a girl learning to craft a written language so her, her clan, and her family's stories are never forgotten. We get to see a woman who was only valued for her beauty, become the warrior she has always wanted to be. And lastly, we get to see a young Fhrey boy coming to terms with the power he holds, while also being given the choice of what kind of leader he wants to be. Oh, and we get giants and demons and dragons and old gods, too!

Have I sold you yet? Because Michael J. Sullivan truly crafts some completely unforgettable characters. The magical girl with the wolf sidekick, Suri, is one of my favorite characters in all of literature. She is written expertly and impossible not to love. This series is worth a try just for the privilege of meeting her alone. I don't mean to gush about Suri, but she is so important to me and it's downright impossible to not gush about her! And in general, Michael J. Sullivan writes some amazing and strong female representation that is sometimes hard to find in high fantasy.

But besides Suri, this book is about winning smaller battles to eventually try to win a much larger war that seems pretty impossible to win. This book is about how we segregate people who are different than us. This book is about hope, and having faith in the darkest of times. This book is about found families and how you should surround yourself with people who will love you unconditionally and without question or reward. This book is about love and the reckless and desperate things we will do to find or keep it.

“Funny how things that shouldn’t matter actually meant so much and how things as permanent as homes moved.”

I feel like I can't say too much without giving away spoilers, but my favorite scenes in Age of Swords were, hands down, the ones with the quest inside the mountain. They were so amazing, and I felt like I was right there and a part of the adventure. I also felt so many Hobbit feels and I was completely living for this entire journey.

I also love the message about how the Fhrey and Rhune clans are divided. See, the Rhunes are split up into seven clans because they live in different regions, but the Fhrey are split into seven clans completely based on power and privilege. The Fhrey honestly have a working class at the bottom and a class that believes themselves Gods at the top. There is a huge discussion in this book about how the highest clan wants to keep the lower clans down, and it is a really important message that I think many people could see parallels in to our actual world today. I really appreciated it, and I loved reading about it.

“The gathering that changed the course of human history was nothing more than a circle of chairs filled mainly with stupid, vain men.”

Speaking of the Fhrey people, Michael J. Sullivan is going to torment me until book six about the mysterious door, isn't he?

This world is huge in this book, which means there is a lot of world building, and I completely understand the necessity of making this story cohesive, but I just felt myself not as invested in some of the other storylines as I would have liked. Again, Suri's storyline is my favorite, and I also really enjoy Persephone's, but the rest just fell a little flat for me.

I loved seeing a new language being created. I loved the new characters and races. I loved seeing sacrifice, even though I felt like my heart was being shattered in a million pieces. I loved seeing so many characters faced with moral dilemmas that brought about the constant question of what is the right thing to do. And I loved seeing these characters slowly, but surely, realize that past torment and pain does not make you broken.

Yet, even with all of this being said, not that much happened in this book. There were very few exciting moments, but for the most part this book just felt mostly boring to me. I simply couldn't put down Age of Myth, but I mostly made myself pick up Age of Swords. I know this book was setting up important ground work for the rest of the series, which I wholeheartedly appreciate, but it's ultimately the reason I have to give this a lower rating.

I still completely recommend this series, and I truly believe with my whole heart that this is going to be a series I carry with me forever. The characters, the messages, the greater picture at hand, all of these things are building up into something unforgettable, and I can't wait to get my hands on Age of War!

“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.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,606 reviews1,480 followers
August 18, 2017
★✩A solid 4 ‘call me Fhreyhyndia’ stars✩★

I loved Age of Myth. It was on my top 5 fantasy reads of 2016 (I read over 150 fantasy books so that is an accomplishment.). This is a really good story and I enjoyed most of it, even the parts that broke my heart a little or a lot, but I didn’t love it quite as much as the first book of the series. That isn’t to say it wasn’t still a fantastic follow up to Age of Myth. It would have been really difficult to top that book for me.
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.

Heroes can come from unexpected places and Age of Swords was full of them. The best part for me is that most end up being women. I love the MJS has a cast full of strong female characters that all heroic in their own ways:

ஐ - Persephone always trying to everything possible to save her people no matter the cost to herself.


ஐ - Moya proving to everyone that she is braver in the face of danger than any man. I love her so much. She is fearless and pushes the boundaries of everything. She flirts with the Elves, fights with tradition and proves that just because you are beautiful and could have any man you don’t necessarily need one to save you.

ஐ - Brin who loses so much in this book but in the face of it all looks for how she can best keep the history of a people alive for eternity. She will walk into any danger to be able to chronicle these moments for the future.

ஐ -Roan who is brilliant but broken. I think I might love her the most just because she needs it more than any other character in the book. She survived beatings and slavery and thrived into becoming a mechanical genius. I ship her and Gifford so hard and they better get a little happiness eventually since each completely deserves it.

ஐ - Then there is Suri…well she sacrificed more than I wanted her to and showed us what the cost was to change from a caterpillar into a butterfly.
There’s always a cost. And I can’t imagine those pretty wings come cheap. Nothing has so far.”

Age of Myth was an introduction into this world and Age of Swords shows how the Rhunic people are evolving, Once they were roaming families that later settled and became clans. Now they need to become even more if they are going to go to war with the Fhrey and that means that all of them must come together as a people if they are going to stand a chance.

I always love the story arcs with the women and even Raithe’s arc was really good. This time the Fane’s young son Mawyndulë had a PoV which was the readers inside as to what was happening within the Fhrey. That was the hardest PoV to read as he is really more like a petulant child. He is incredibly young for an Elf and has been sheltered most of his life so his sense of entitlement and superiority were a bit too much at times that I just ended up being angry at him. Still the machinations in the heart of the Fhrey lands are great and maybe even a little more twisted than I originally thought. These were really the only parts of the book that read slow for me.

I did like getting to visit the Dwarven lands and meeting a few decent dwarves. The Dherg were not quite what I was expecting but I think Nyphron was closer than I thought he’d be.
“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.

The world and the cultures become even richer with every chapter in this series. I like that things are laid out for us slowly so that even those who read MJS’s other series have new peoples and places introduced all the time.

For those of you who have read The RIyera books I think that there are lots of little Easter eggs in here for you as well. For me I think learning that what they believe 3000 years from now has been much skewed from the events that actually took place. I really like how well MJS is playing with this idea. The only author who I think did it just as well or better is Brandon Sanderson when he took the Mistborn world of books 1-3 and then skipped ahead 300+ years with Mistborn 4-6 and you could see how history was remembered.

Nyphron, well I’m not quite sure what I think of that guy. I definitely get his motivations and since I’ve read the other series I know a little of the lore behind him. I honestly can’t wait to learn the truth behind the story that became Nyphron and Persephone. Especially since I’m shipping her with someone that isn’t Nyphron.

This is currently one of my favorite fantasy series and even though Age of Myth was a bit stronger for me I like the direction of the story and LOVED the twists at the end. I was actually pretty surprised in those last chapters and so into everything that was happening and then it was over….and now we wait.

Thank you to Netgalley and Del Rey publishing for the ARC

Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
August 8, 2017

Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Storm clouds have been gathering since the events of Age of Myth, the first book in Michael J. Sullivan‘s new epic fantasy series, LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE. The Fhrey (elves) have been feeling threatened by the Rhunes (humans) ever since the Rhunes shifted from a nomadic lifestyle to a more settled one, with crops and flocks of animals as well as hunting. Their population started exploding, and the Rhunes now outnumber the long-lived Fhrey by a factor of twenty to one (one million Rhunes vs. fifty thousand Fhrey). The killing of two Fhrey by Raithe, a Rhune warrior, provided the final impetus for a Fhrey attack.

As Age of Swords (2017) begins, a few months after the end of Age of Myth, trouble arrives for the inhabitants of Dahl Rhen with a literal bang. A magical lightning storm, mixed with apple-sized chunks of hail, destroys their village and the surrounding forest. As the storm ends, a gang of giants attacks what’s left of the village and its people.

Persephone, the recently-named chieftain of Dahl Rhen, calls on her people to gather all the belongings and supplies they can carry, and travel to Tirre, a Rhune town by the sea. She’s sent runners to all ten other clans to convene a summit there to unite all of the Rhune people to fight against the Fhrey, and to appoint a single “keenig” to lead all of the Rhune. While the chieftains argue over who should be the keenig, Raithe, Persephone’s nominee for the job, refuses, arguing that with the Fhrey’s far-superior bronze swords, not to mention their magical powers, humans don’t stand a chance.

One possible answer lies with the Dherg or, as they call themselves, Belgriclungreians (nevermind, dwarves), whose technological capabilities exceed even those of the Fhrey. Three exiled dwarves propose a deal to Persephone and Arion, the magically gifted Fhrey who has been living with the Rhune and training young Suri in the use of her magical Art. If Arion will help take care of a “giant” problem in the dwarves’ ancient city of Neith, they will help Persephone deal with the dwarves’ to try to get the humans better weapons … even better than bronze! So Persephone, Arion, Roan (an ex-slave who is a mechanical genius) and several other women leave the Rhune summit on their own quest, with no idea of the danger that awaits them in the land of the dwarves.

In his Author’s Note at the beginning of Age of Swords, Sullivan calls this book his “favorite book of this series,” but I thought it was slightly weaker than Age of Myth. The pacing dragged at times, especially in the chapters dealing with Mawyndulë, the immature and selfish son of the Fhrey ruler. Mawyndulë is in the running for the fictional character with the most breathtaking combination of sheer uselessness and an overinflated sense of self-importance, ever.

Readers who like novels with a strong theme of woman empowerment will find much to love in Age of Swords. It was good to see this happen in a relatively primitive society, although it did strike me as unlikely that, in a Neolithic era clan, a group of women would take off on a dangerous trip without taking any men along (other than some dwarves of debatable usefulness).

I also found Roan’s level of inventive genius over the top, not to mention suspiciously convenient at several key plot points. She was particularly busy in this book; her inventions included and more. Leonardo da Vinci has nothing on Roan! At the same time, Roan is a sympathetic woman, given some depth of character, as she tries to overcome the deep psychological scars inflicted by her old master. Nursing a near-hopeless love for Roan is Gifford, a gifted potter with crippling birth defects, whose outward injuries are a counterpoint to Roan’s inner ones. Through another character’s recollections, Sullivan offers some deeply intriguing comments about Gifford’s future role, shedding some new light on that character.

Overall, Age of Swords is compelling reading. Several characters develop in intriguing ways, rising to the occasion when trouble comes. And it ends very strongly, with a few twists and turns that really increased the reading pleasure. It left me ― and, I think it’s safe to predict, will leave most readers ― anxious for Age of War, the next novel in this series, scheduled for publication in April 2018.

I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher and NetGalley for review. Thank you!

Initial comments: I was approved for this on NetGalley! - YAY!

I haven't read the first book yet. - Oops.

I had to go buy a copy of the first book. - BAD Tadiana!! Go stand in the corner and think about what you've done.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
699 reviews868 followers
February 4, 2023
4.5 stars.

Age of Swords is a great sequel in developing the characters that I've grown to love in Age of Myth.

I could appreciate why the author named this as his favourite book of the series, even at this early stage. Every author should be fond of the characters that they have created, and writing that one book that brought most growth had to be the most fulfilling.

Age of Swords demonstrated what usually occurs when the bonds of subjugation start to fray. Prior to the events in the Age of Myth, the Fhreys were viewed to be gods and the Rhunes primitive beings. With the co-mingling of the outcast Fhrey amongst the Rhunes and a chance meeting with Dhergs or dwarves, the sharing of ideas and technology enabled the more 'primitive' race to advance at an exponential level. The discovery of the reclusive and covetous Dherg, and their know-how played a significant role in this novel. I have to say that some of these advancements did occur almost all too expediently or conveniently. Regardless, it didn't really bother me as the superb character development completely overshadowed this minor issue.

I think we've just witnessed the world shift, and I doubt it'll ever be the same again.

As before in Age of Myth, there wasn't a tremendous amount of plot progression in this book. The material sought to give the reader a better appreciation of the key characters and why they are so important to the story. What happens is that the pacing slows down and we get a lot of conversations taking place. This is important for me, though. The Legends of the First Empire is a prequel series for me in its truest sense as I have read all of the Riyria Revelations and Chronicles' books. As such, I can say I already have some knowledge of the final outcome, and the journey becomes more important to me; i.e. the story of what actually happened vs what became "legend" millennia later. There was just so much fun and delight in discovering the linkages and references to the Riyria series. My heart did a little dance whenever something or someone caused me to exclaim "Oh my gosh, is it..." or "Is that...?"

One thing's for sure, if you are looking for well-written female characters no look further than in Michael J Sullivan's books.

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.

The female characters in this series are astounding. They are smart, courageous, resilient, compassionate and strong without once compromising what makes them women. Be it Persephone, Moya, Roan, Brin or Suri, all their stories truly shine. There is no better word to describe the character development of this stellar cast, on which a lot of time was spent.

This is in stark contrast to the men, who seemed to be stubbornly irritating. Well, except for one outright star which I will come to later. I was especially annoyed with Raithe and Mawyndule. Raithe's arc seemed to take a step backwards in here with his reluctance to act and pessimism leading to an almost cowardly course of action. I definitely wished to see more of Malcolm to temper his insufferable whining. Mawyndule's POV was completely unlikable as it served to drive the point of how the Miralyth believed themselves to be above all other Fhreys and deserved to be within the pantheon of the gods itself. It was, unfortunately, a necessary evil to shape the narrative of the larger story at hand.

The saving grace amongst the men was no other than Gifford. I was delighted that he actually received a fair bit of page-time in here. Damaged as he was, his strength of will, determination and courage was extraordinary. His relationship with Roan was especially beautiful, bittersweet, heart-wrenching and sad at the same time. An outwardly crippled man who does not view himself as such, and a brilliant woman who is broken inside.

Most people pitied Gifford and a few even despised him. He never understood either.

Another favourite aspect of this book is, finally, the explanation of the Art. Oh my gosh, it was so beautiful and I truly understand now why it is called the Art. The power of creation that exists in almost everything in the world; the threads and the chords and how it can be altered, manipulated by an Artist. Arising out of this particular narrative was an emotionally powerful sequence of scenes, definitely the most memorable for me from this book.

As much as I loved a whole lot of Age of Swords, it pained me that there are parts which I did not enjoy, namely Mawyndule's and the Miralyth arc. As necessary as it was, it was a bit longer than I would have liked it to be.

All in all, though, this is another really solid instalment into The Legends of the First Empire. Hopefully, with most of the key characters being established and judging from the ending of Age of Swords, we will finally be getting more action in the subsequent book, Age of War.

You can order this book from: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide)

You can also find this, and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
283 reviews786 followers
August 4, 2017
We all know that one person who is kind, good-looking, talented, socially skilled, just has everything. And we want to love that person and be happy for him/her, because he/she is perfect and flawless. We try - but a twinge of envy gets in the way and we end up half-admiring, half-sulking in his/her company.

Age of Swords is that person to me. The characters work so well together, the plot is planned out so perfectly, the story fits together seamlessly. As a result of MJS writing the full series before publishing, everything just works out perfectly. I should love it; instead it left me slightly annoyed.

But in the interest of being objective, Age of Swords still gets four stars. I shouldn't bring down the book's lovely average rating just because I'm a jealous meanie. Besides, the heroines really rocked this time, I love how MJS makes their strengths shine.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
July 30, 2017
*** 4.65 ***

A buddy read with my Fantasy Friends @ BB&B! Because we love awesome Fantasy:):):)

The thing about this series is that once you read the first book, you know you have entered a magical world and you don't want to leave it! No, it is not that everyone there lives happily ever after, or that all is rainbows and chocolate ice-cream with strawberries. Quite the opposite. The world is beautiful, but harsh and the lives of the Humans, called Rhunes. is primitive and full of sorrows. It doesn't help that the Fhrey (or Elves) of this world have done everything possible to make them feel like unworthy less-than-people, constantly encouraging wars between the Clans in order to "cull their flocks", controlling the population by strife and constant mortal conflict. These long term grudges also help the Fhrey to control the Rhunes by not letting them ever achieve their full potential and if ever there is peace or possibility of uniting the clans, agents of the Fhrey build up the fires of hatred among them once again.

"..."There are many lies spoken during a war, even more before one. That is how they start."..."

In the first book of the series, Age of Myth, Raithe, a young Rhune, killed one of the Fhrey, which apparently had never happened before, and was dubbed The G-d Killer! Rhunes think of Fhrey as G-ds mostly because they are so very long lived, about 3 000 years each, and in the eyes of the humans this seems as if they are immortal. They also have weapons and many of them can whiled the Art, which is this world's Magic. Having no other frame of reference, they call the Fhrey G-ds, and unfortunately, the Fhrey believe themselves to be such, while thinking of the Humans as pack animals... However, having one of them killed by a human angers the Fhrey and they take action to impose their power once again, showing who is the boss. The Fhrey are also divided in Clans and the warriors from the Border Guard under the leadership of Nyphron are also at odds with the ruling class. Raithe and the people he settles down with, a small clan lead by Persephone, decide that they are not going to take all of this retribution laying down and together with Nyphrons' warriors call all the Rhune Clans to meet and talk about uniting and choosing a King in order to stand against the Elves... Persephone thinks Raithe would make a great leader, but neither him nor the other leaders seem agreeable. Nothing goes as planned and nothing comes easy...

"..."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.”..."

Raithe, the God Killer, refuses to lead anyway, stating they do not have the appropriate weapons to enter into a war. So, the ever brave and decisive, not necessarily smart, gang of ladies, headed by Persephone as a chieftain, Moya as her sassy shield, Brin as the wide-eyed historian, Roan as the solver of logistical problems, and the group of the Mystic Suri, her Fhrey tutor and her best friend, Minna, the wisest Wolf Ever, go with three Dherg (the Dwarves) to their lands. They have been promised weapons in return for the Mystics killing a Giant who is tormenting their lands. Once again, nothing goes as planned, much of it having to do with the innate treachery of the Dherg...

"...“The Dherg are notoriously untrustworthy. Deceit is their first language and selfishness their creed, so they expect the same from others.”..."

I love this gang of ladies!!! To me they make the whole book and I am addicted to their personal stories. I can't get enough. They are strong, each in their own way, but they are all also wounded in various manner and their vulnerabilities make them even stronger for having to overcome them every day!!! Not one of the ladies is the same as the other and in my personal opinion, in the creation of them as a group is where MJS's genius lies.

As I said earlier, the life of the humans is very primitive, kept so on purpose, and both the Fhrey and the Dwarves are far ahead of them in technology, culture and everyday comforts. The place where many of my GR friends seem to have an issue is with couple of ladies from that group, in matter on months, "discover" the wheel, the pocket, the bow and arrows, writing and are able to decipher old languages, as well as understand them. Those readers find it very implausible for that to happen and it does not sit well with them, for some reason. I have no idea why!!! This is Fantasy, and in all of our Fantasy or Urban Fantasy, we have all come to take it for granted that there is magic, there is shape-shifting, there are Dragons, there are Witches and Wizards, Elemental Assassins, men who can fight with heavy swards and shields for days with no break, G-ds who talk to people, different races of beings and so much more.... None of this seems to faze us, since we have taken all of those things as staples for our Fantasy worlds. And here come two smart, inquisitive young women, two wonderful characters, and we all have difficult time accepting that they can be smart enough to discover some human truths and Arkhanic human experiences, just because they do it seemingly so easily and fast? Or do we have such a hard time accepting, even in our Fantasy, that women can be that smart?? We can accept strength of character, decisiveness, even imagine that a woman warrior can match physical prowess with her male counterparts, but we feel discomforted by Fantastical smart women??? This really shows how far we all still are from breaking the stereotypes so deeply installed in our society by the patriarchal traditions, that even in a world we should let our imagination go, we cannot let it go as far as accepting that women can be as smart or smarter than some men... If the crippled potter had come up with all of those discoveries, I bet none of the readers would feel as uncomfortable with the "unreality" of either the time nor the plausibility of them... MJS, I do love you!!!

"...“It's easier to believe the most outlandish lie that confirms what you suspect than the most obvious truth that denies it.”..."

The pacing of the book is a bit slower, but it does feel like a set-up book for the developments to follow. The Clans are trying to organize, the Fhrey are having some internal issues, the Dwarves civilization is introduced, and many of the characters are going through some internal conflicts, deciding what they are going to do and who they are going to try to be... So yes, it is slower, but if you love character development and the political set-up for the overall arc as much as I do, you would enjoy it! The way MJS is able to present some of the hardest and most difficult episodes of the plot with gravity, debt and understanding, as well as with a shade of humor always present, is what makes his writing so easy to read without finding ourselves overwhelmed by depression or grief. Not once did I think, this is to much for me to continue... When emotions were to much, they were tempered by the overall picture, by the easy banter, by the natural storytelling the author is gifted with... There is a moment in the book when we lost a beloved character and my heart was broken, but it was essential for the growth of other characters and none of it felt as gratuitous cruelty... My only thought was " I need to know more! I can't waste time sleeping, I need to read on!!!"... So I did, and finished at 4:20 am today... I had a rough time getting up for work, I tell you that, but it was totally worth it:) Now, if only we could magically get the rest of the series right away:):):)!

"...“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.”..."

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you Always Find what you Need in the pages of a Good Book!!!
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
421 reviews466 followers
May 14, 2020
Age of Swords continues the journey MJS started us on with Age of Myth. As the second book in the series I was not sure what to expect and the few glances I spared at some early reviews did nothing to lessen my fears with calls of slow pacing and a lot of setting up of the story for future books.

Fortunately, I can happily say this was not the case for me at all. In fact, the book started off with a bang and I could not put it down. At least not until MJS broke my heart. More on that later.

Spoilers for book one.

Age of Myth ended with an attack from and also defeat of a very powerful Frey, and with various members of Clan Ren, the main characters of our story, being chosen to fulfill important new roles in the possible coming war against the Frey. At the start of Age of Swords, this possible war seems to be veering more into the region of inevitable than possible as a devastating attack is launched against the Rhunes on various fronts. As newly appointed chieftain of Clan Ren, Persephone takes it upon herself to gather the various clans in order to choose a keenig, who will unite the clans and lead them in the war against the Frey.

Choosing a leader is easier said than done though, as every clan chief thinks it should be himself, apart from Persephone who is backing Raithe and Raithe who is believes it is a pointless exercise backing anyone as they have no hope of beating the Frey. One of his main arguments though, is that Rhune weapons are vastly inferior to Frey weapons, and that there is no means of overcoming that disadvantage. As such, while the chiefs squabble over the leadership issue, Persephone devises a plan to obtain similar or even better weapons and sets off on a hopeful quest to acquire them together with a small band of people from her clan. This part of the book, the quest, forms the backbone of this story. Our team is put through the wringer more than once and we get to see some tremendous character growth courtesy of this adventure, but it also comes with the added weight of loss. Right. Here we go.

I had to put it down for more than a day at that point and struggled to pick it up again. I am happy that I did, as the story was worth it, but in all honesty I did not enjoy it as much as I would have without the death of .

It was a dagger to my heart.

🗡️ Necessary? I suppose so.
🗡️ Avoidable? Probably not.
🗡️ F****d up? YES.
🗡️ Will I ever get over it? NO.

And because of that, this book will never be one I love, even though it would have been without that one incident. I want to deduct two or even three damn stars for that, but that’s probably a bit harsh and also feels unfair toward an author who is such an amazing person and who you can feel always puts everything of himself into his work. Looking back at other books where I lost characters I loved, I tend to subtract only ¼ of a star to 1 star at the most. Slightly inconsistent, but that’s emotion for you, and the emotion on this one was right up there, and makes this a very hard rating for me. Some people get over book character deaths easily, some don't. I do not really know into which category I fall, because thinking back to the Mistborn Trilogy, I was able to get over so many deaths in that series and still love it. My girlfriend, on the other end of the spectrum, loved it until those deaths, now she hates it. Maybe I just need some time, but I cannot imagine it so. Book death spoiler

I am still excited to see where the series is going. So much of the history that we read of in Riyria seems to be very different from what we have been told, especially regarding Novron/Nyphron & Persephone, at least up to the current timeline of the prequels. It is always interesting reading about what such mythological figures were actually like in comparison to how history remembers them and vice versa. I love it. Very Sanderson-like Mr Sullivan.

This is a great book notwithstanding my personal issues with it. MJS is definitely growing as an author and it makes really happy that this is only book two of five, in what is shaping up to be possibly, his best work so far.


Arion fanart by Sabrina A. Salazar
Profile Image for Haïfa.
185 reviews179 followers
July 10, 2017
Actual rating : 3.5 stars

ARC provided by the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Note 1: The quotes in this review are taken from the ARC edition and may change in the published edition.

Note 2: I'm definitely on the unpopular opinion side here. So if you don't agree with me, you can drop a comment and we can discuss it :)

Note 3: I just realized that the title was PERFECT ! It couldn't have been more appropriate :')

“Losing leaves a bitter taste that lingers long after the sweetness of victory has been forgotten.”

Damn, this is a very hard book to review for me!

Mostly because Michael J Sullivan is one of my favorite authors. I love his writing! I love his characters, his humor and the way he tells his stories. Unfortunately, that is also precisely why this book didn't work as much as I hoped, for me. I found his storytelling in AoS different from what I’m used to. It's more forced and somehow, deliberate, with little room for unexpected turns of events. Michael knew exactly where his story was going (the 6 books are written already, with different editing stages), so he dropped a lot of the necessary cornerstones for his characters and the bigger picture’s further development. To the point where this book felt like a huge introduction! If this was the first book of the series, it would have been understandable but this is the second installment and I was bored during half of the book :'(

AoS is rather character-driven. The plot doesn't move much (most of the interesting actions for me took place in the last 15% of the book) and you can see most of them coming from far away. Often because of the excerpts from the book of Brin, at the beginning of each chapter.

I have nothing against character-driven stories, believe me ! One of my favorite series of all time is the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson and It’s certainly not fast-paced. But it is full of twists and revelations and amazing battle sequences. I didn't get much of neither in AoS. Don't get me wrong, there were beautiful, touching and heart-wrenching moments but they were scarce imo. MJS explained in his Author’s Note how all his characters were very important for the future turns of events (there were a few hints throughout the narrative too), and that it was necessary to give each of them enough space to grow into their full potential. Retrospectively, he was successful. What seemed like idle conversations and very long introspection parts, were justified at the end of the book. However, those parts often felt unnecessary, lengthy or boring to read.

Another element that slowed the pace and wasn't very realistic, was the contrast between how primitive and backward humans were in this series and how ONE particularly gifted character invented devices on a daily basis, to suit every situation (the axe and the pottery table in AoM were only the beginning). So Michael kinda packed millennia of humanity's early technological progress in a few days. It was unsettling and despite the edge these inventions gave to our characters, there were too much of them to be believable.

“I think we’ve just witnessed the world shift, and I doubt it’ll ever be the same again.”

Please don't let these points talk you out of trying this book (and the series). They are a matter of personal preference and there is a lot to love in the story Michael is telling in The Legends of the First Empire :

1. Michael has a gift for writing amazing female characters! Ordinary women and girls who refuse to sit idly and settle for the modest roles men assigned to them. They are both strong and fragile and most of them are touching in different ways. Most importantly, all of them are determined to write a piece of History! My favorites are definitely Suri and Moya! Both were hilarious, endearing, loyal and brave in their own way <3 Male characters on the other hand didn’t shine much in AoS ! XD Seriously, I wanted to strangle them in more than a dozen occasions!

2. The expansion of the world building! The story extended far beyond Dahl Rhen and Erivan’s capital to new villages and « foreign » lands. One place in particular had a distinct Fellowship of the Ring feel to it and I kept expecting a Balrog to emerge from the depths of the city and attack the party!

3. The references to the Riyria series were priceless!! OMG, it was extremely fun and rewarding to make connections to “future” events and legendary characters, creatures and places!

4. The Art is finally explained! After 8 books in the world of Elan, I’m glad Michael provided details about its requirements and it’s connection to the elements, to nature and to Life itself. And damn, it’s pretty complex ! XD There are a lot of (definitely necessary) details and subtleties, so be prepared ! ;)

5. Michael’s prose has a simple beauty! It’s very accessible and suited for every reader. His writing is generous, funny, touching, punctuated by beautiful metaphors, hilarious dialogues sometimes and touching and heroic moments. You can always be certain to find unbreakable friendships, loyalty and sacrifices, and a lot of beautiful characters who’ll eventually blossom out into unexpected heroes in your read!

There are many lies spoken during a war, even more before one. That is how they start.

I was so sad I enjoyed this book much less than I anticipated. Despite a very exciting beginning, the story was extremely simple (once again) and I definitely expected more. It took me a while to write these few thoughts because while I was bored during a major part of the book, there was a tremendous characters' growth and many pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall in place. I'm definitely intrigued to see where this story is going!!

You can find this review and more at Booksprens.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
August 11, 2017
This one definitely picks up better than the first of the Legends, in my opinion. There was something about the characters that drew me in more than before. In fact, it's basically the characters that drive everything here. :)

The basic story of rebellion, arming for war, training for war, and just getting the tools they need to do a good job of it is pretty much omnipresent. As a standard fantasy fare, it's full of the elves, the dwarves, and the regular old ignorant humans, but it's not these elements that should excite anyone.
It's the magic and the discovery of *old* warfare in this deep fantasy past that should do it.

Oh, and also the lies in the old text and comparing the other series revelations with what REALLY happened. :) That was pretty damn fun. Oh, and the baddies.

My only complaint, if I had any for real, was that the whole amazing surprise bits about metallurgy and bows. It felt a bit too yokelish and even the big surprise about reading was a bit too... um... basic. But I can forgive that as long as I had fun, and I had fun!

460 reviews396 followers
May 17, 2017
If you liked Riyria Chronicles/Revelations, if youve read and enjoyed Age of Myth you absolutely have to get Age of Swords. This book wont be available until July 25th, but the lovely and generous u/michaeljsullivan sent me the ebook in advance! This book starts off with a bang, right away in the first few pages shit is going down. This is not a "slow start" or "slow burn" kind of book, so if youre looking for a book to catch you from the first chapter this is it.
The author is getting better and better at his craft, and this book is just amazing. Many people think that Riyria Revelations is good at the start, and great by the end. This series started off great with Age of Myth, and is turning into one of my top favorite series Ive read. Hes in the Sanderson/GRRM teir at this point for me - I can not wait to see where this story is going.
We meet the DHERG! WHATS UP DWARVES? We got hints of them in Age of Myth but never met them, now we get a trio of dwarves and we even get to see their city which is a huge stone city carved into the face of a cliff on the seaside. We get some background on their ancestry and legends, and go way down into their cave system.
Other new places include Tirre, a neighboring Dahl (town). Theres a call for unification of the tribes to help with the war the Fhrey (Elves) are waging against the Rhunes (humans). We meet new cheiftans and new characters and insights into how the different cultures and gods of the different clans and its all fascinating. We also get to see giants!
Theres also an inner rebellion amongst the elves, with one faction considering themselves a race above the others because of their ability to use the Art (magic). We get to watch as the smug and totally unlikeable (but interesting POV) join a secret order of Artists planning to overpower the other factions. This book like the last one is multi POV, and I love all of the POVs, Im never disappointed by a switch.
Suri is still reigning as my favorite character, she reminds me in some ways of Auri from King Killer Chronicles - who is my favorite character from that series. Shes mysterious and sweet, young but not naive. She also talks to things and loves things the way Auri does - but instead of inanimate objects that talk to her, its nature. Shes talks to the trees, and animals and has relationships with them - the forest is alive amd she brings it alive for you. I cant say Ive ever grown attached to a tree in a book before, but you become attached to them through her relationshionships with them. I was taken by surprise by my own attachment to a tree. She also is taking a larger role in this book as she developes her abilities to use the Art, and its so much fun.
Two equally fascinating characters named Brin and Roan are inventing things and making remarkable strides forward for the human race that will be crucial in the war against the Fhrey, and for civilization in general. They are creating things we all consider mundane, but we wouldnt be who we are without them. I cant go much into that without giving things away, but suffice it to say that watching them invent things has been one of the highlights of the book.
This book has amazingly well written female characters, if thats a thing you look for in books, this book is full of them. Roan, Persephone, Brin, Arion and Suri are all brilliantly written and all unique adding their own perspectives to the world youre reading about. Whats best about them is they feel real, and not forced to be "strongly written female characters", it feels completely natural. I started and finished this book within the same day, and only took breaks to eat. I literally could not stop reading this book, impossible to put down. The pacing in the book leaves you needing to keep reading, there are no slogs or slow parts to the book, from beginning to end I was floored by the amount of stuff that was going on and how fast paced it was.
The tone is also remains lighter than many books revolving around an impending war. Its not exactly "cheery", but its not doom and gloom and despair. Ill read grim dark books and enjoy them, shit I just got done with IT which is a messed up and twisted book - but I think I prefer reading things that dont leave me saying "wtf". Although there are serious parts of the book, and very sad moments, the overall tone isnt dark.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
May 26, 2020
*** 4.44 ***

I am too emotional to write a review right now.... Michael wrote a great story about some really strong women 💪, who do some amazing, and some quite implausible things, surrounded by some remarkable men, but the heart of the story is the way the characters relate to each other and the price you are willing to pay in order to keep those whom you care for safe, as well as can you and those same people you do extraordinary things for, live with the consequences of pulling them off. I don't know how some of the characters were able to go as far as they did, because I am not sure I ever could... This is not a judgement on the characters, this is just what the book made me think about. 💔💔💔 As painful as some of it is, I am very glad I got to read it and am really looking forward to seeing where Michael will take us from here. I have to trust that we, the readers, are in good hands and we will survive the series with more strength in our souls! 🙂

Now I wish you all happy reading and may you always find what you need in the pages of a good book!
Profile Image for Philip.
498 reviews672 followers
April 23, 2018
4.25ish stars.

In a lot of ways this has so many of the same "traditional" elements shared by other traditional fantasy novels, it would be easy for it to seem derivative. However, in a lot of ways, it's written so solidly it still manages to justify its existence. It's kind of cool that it's set in such a primitive age, even with the silly, implausible anachronisms used for the sake of character and plot development. I mean it's cool that Roan conveniently discovers some of civilization's most important inventions within a couple days of each other (even with the help of those dwarfs), but really?

What really sets this story apart is the character work, particularly with the female characters. This novel, much more than Age of Myth, hinges on its great and varied women. Raithe, The God Killer, hardly even makes an appearance! And it isn't even a big deal. I mean he and Malcolm are great, but it was even greater to go on that adventure into the misty mountains. That dragon. So cool, yet so tragic.

I'm sure there are lots of rewarding easter eggs that tie into the Ryria Revelations, but I was not of fan of the first book in that series and can't bring myself to try again, sorry not sorry. Good work to MJS because he's obviously come a long way as an author since then. This is a truly enjoyable series- cool characters, deeply layered, interesting plot, lots of potential, and c'mon the covers are awesome! Recommended.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Michael Britt.
171 reviews1,997 followers
July 29, 2017
EDIT: Find this review and more like it here.

Wow! I really, really enjoyed this book. But part of that had to do, I think, with knowing exactly what to expect. So even though this is a 5 star book to me, I will be addressing some things that I felt were valid complaints. Despite these "complaints", I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Well, there's not really much I can say about the plot without spoilers, so I'll say this: this is basically a book where everything gets invented, in a very short time, and where they go on a quest to get, you guessed it, swords.

Firstly, I want to address some things that I've seen others say that took away from their enjoyment. Because they're actually very valid points that they brought up. I just happened to not be bothered much by these things. So i think everyone will be different. The humans in this book went from their greatest inventions being fire and stone tipped spears, to inventing the wheel, pockets, bows and arrows, learning to write and many other things. All being invented by pretty much one person. While it did feel a tad rushed, I didn't mind so much. Also, this is a very character development heavy book. It focuses less on events and more on developing characters and introducing inventions. Those are pretty much the most common negative comments I've seen. I feel like seeing these things addressed actually helped me enjoy the book more, so I felt it important to include them. I included them first because I wanted to end on a happy note. So, let's get into it. Shall we?

I couldn't have been more happy with this book. Sure, it was slow, but I just loved getting to see some of our minor characters develop and show their strengths. Characters like Roan, Gifford, Moya, and Brin really got to shine. Gifford and Moya might just be my most favorite characters in all of Sullivan's works. I would state why, but too many spoilers. And all of our big characters from Age of Myth are back. Suri and Minna constantly being awesome as well. I love that duo! But I think this is what makes Sullivan's books so awesome; his characters are always so much fun! I also loved how huge of a part the women played, as this is such a rare thing to find in the genre. Or it is in my experience, at least. Maybe I'm just not as well read as I thought, who knows?

The plot really didn't have all that much going on, but as I said above, I didn't really mind this since I had such a fun time going and growing with the characters. If you're familiar with Sullivan's books, then you're familiar with his prose; the easy to read, non-flowery, surprisingly vivid prose. This is another thing that's made me love reading books by MJS. I know that I won't be bogged down by 2 pages of flowery descriptions of a single room. He's able to set a scene so vivid and with no more words than are necessary.

While not much happens to further the plot (something big does happen, so don't fear that it's a slog), this sets up what truly feels like is going to be a series that's going to top Riyria Revelations. The ending has seen to that. There's something about knowing how the history was written that is making me excited to see what has actually happened. I think that that's where a lot of the appeal comes from, for me. I mean, history is written by the victor, right?
Profile Image for Benjamin Thomas.
1,953 reviews271 followers
April 8, 2017
Wow! And I thought Book One was good. I just turned the last page on this second book of the “Legends of the First Empire” series and feel blown away! It’s the best feeling I’ve had when finishing an epic fantasy novel in quite some time. Of course, this series is a prequel series to the much-loved Riyria books (Revelations and Chronicles), set 3000 years before those. To quote the author’s blog about book one, ”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.” Age of Swords most definitely launches that epic tale in full force.

I will resist spewing out a plot summary because I would never do it justice and it would come out sounding like many other fantasy books written over the past 30 years or so. However, I will say that it picks up shortly after the events of “Age of Myth” with the same major characters and revolves around the need for the human clans to become more practical in order to deal with the very real threat from the long-lived and magic-wielding Fhrey (elves). Along the way, other major characters are introduced as well as the dwarven race (properly called “Belgriclungreians), whose impact on events cannot be overstated.

The author’s world building is once again in evidence but now is solidifying more. I have a much greater understanding of the political situation, especially the Fhrey due to several very engrossing chapters about what is happening concurrently in their part of the world. What seemed vast in the first book now seems more concrete, with each of the clans displaying unique personalities, much like the characters themselves. Normally I tend to shy away from books with lots of characters; they seem to blend together so often and I lose track of who is doing what to whom. But here, the author really shows his writing chops. Every character, even the minor ones, are distinctive and personalized, all of which led to my own sinking completely in to the story.

I also enjoyed watching our main characters learn from the other races, achieving great advancements quickly such as learning about the wheel, developing carts, wagons, baskets, barrels, and discovering writing as well as the bow and arrow. And of course, since this is the “Age of Swords” they advance from simple copper weapons to bronze, iron, and what appears to be steel. Perhaps the most satisfying parts of the story are how they use their brains to leverage this information and techniques to achieve what was previously thought impossible, making heroes out of some and chumps out of others. I would be remiss to not also show some love for Suri and her remarkable transformation in the use of magic (the "Art"). I foresee great things coming from her.

This is, indeed, a complex world but Mr. Sullivan has a way of making it all completely understandable and relatable. He balances the earthiness and texture of the human clans with the political intrigue and royal factions of the advanced race of Fhrey and tosses in the engineering skills and comic relief of the dwarves. The ending of this book was emotional and extremely satisfying and certainly sets a high mark for the following novels in the series still to come.

Highest recommendation!

Note: I recieved an ARC of this book through the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews602 followers
March 11, 2021
“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."

I love it when books improve as there progresses, this book did just that, there are improvements in all angles. I'll start with the writing, it was somewhat amateurish in book 1 but now it's slightly above average, the depictions were well done so were the fight scenes. They are more POVs in this, and switching between each POV was well done.

Everyone thinks their adversary has an easier time than they do. They believe that all their opponent’s schemes work out exactly as expected, while their own plans constantly suffer setbacks. It is a funny notion, especially since you can’t have an adversary without being one.

The plot is finally progressing albeit slowly, two major things happened in this book, the Rhunes I.e is the humans have finally gotten weapons and humans are now united against a common enemy. Some things of import also happened in the land of the Fae. The female characters had more pages space in this, I say good riddance.

You treat hatred like a fine wine, believing it gets better with age, never expires, doesn’t go bad. But 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.

Mawyndulë the Fae prince and heir is the worst character in this book, he is such an idiot and so vain, the above quote is about him.

Raithe is the only character that didn't improve in my opinion, he is still one dimensional.

Persephone is my favourite character, she is brave and courageous, willing to take necessary risks to help her people, she is a true leader.

Suri and Arion's relationship is the best, I love how close they are now.

Moya surprised me most in this book, she is so much more than a pretty face.

Brin overcame her grief and did lots of important things while Roan made history with her inventions.

As for the Fae, Tekchin is my favourite, Novron is just a manipulative bastard.
Profile Image for Audrey.
1,027 reviews163 followers
May 11, 2023
I won an early copy of this book, post arc-status.

This is a really solid continuation of the story begun in Age of Myth. So if you enjoyed the first one, you'll easily enjoy this one. If you did not like the first one, then you may not care for this, either.

The book starts with a bang, which leaves the humans recognizing the need to unite in a fight against the elves. These are very primitive people who have been living in small tribes. They are going to select a "keenig" (Old English for "king" if I'm remembering right) to rule all of them. It was fun watching the humans discover and invent new things even if a bit quaint.

They meet some dwarfs and strike a you-help-us-we-help-you kind of deal with the humans. They're just not very clear on what their problem is. The story switches viewpoints between these two major groups. There is also a third, less major viewpoint that shows the elvish prince and what's going on with the elves. He is such a total git, but it's fun to watch him squirm.

A rather large ensemble cast was introduced in the first one, and now each characters gets more time and more depth added to them. There are a lot of "strong women" here, but I don't get the sense that the author one day said, "Hey, I'm going to write a bunch of strong women because that's cool now." They're just strong people who happen to be women.

It's a pleasant, easy read -- not too light, not too heavy; it reminds you why you like reading in the first place. You've probably seen elves and dwarves and giants and monsters and dudes with swords before, but it doesn't make the story any less interesting.
Profile Image for Jenna Kathleen.
117 reviews120 followers
August 13, 2017
Michael J. Sullivan's stories get better and better with each book he writes. 5 fantastic stars for Age of Swords. One of the things I love about MJS and his books is that he releases them in a very timely manner. While I don't hold a grudge against authors who release books every 5 years or more (I have plenty to read anyway), I love when an author sticks to their release schedule as closely as possible and lets their fans know what is going on with their editing/publishing timeline. Because of this, Age of Myth was still fresh in my mind when I read Age of Swords and I could immediately get back into the wonderful world of Elan.

In this installment of The Legends of the First Empire, we look further into Elan and finally get a chance to explore Dherg, the land of the dwarves. It was so cool to be able to see the mysterious people's home as dwarves have shown up in both Legends and Riyria. In general, there were a lot of awesome Easter eggs in this book for readers of MJS' first series and while it's not necessary to read Riyria first, it was a special treat that I enjoyed.

One thing I always rave about when I talk about MJS' books is his women characters. Sure, the men are great too; I still like Raithe, Mawyndule and while I can't say I like them, Nyphron and Malcolm are a puzzle to figure out. Even though they are good characters, MJS writes such fantastic women that, in some ways, set his books apart from other fantasy series. Sure, there are lots of women characters in fantasy, but Age of Swords has a large number of intriguing women who are both essential to the plot and diverse in their personalities. They are unique and powerful, but they have realistic weaknesses and worries that so many series with a "strong female lead" just don't have. It's something that is really great to see and it is really showcased in this book with the group of 5 women (plus wolf) on their quest.

This is the second book in the series so really what I'm trying to do here is sell you on trying to read a book by Michael J. Sullivan. You won't be disappointed!
Profile Image for Connor.
686 reviews1,656 followers
November 22, 2019
My Video Review:

I think I preferred Age of Myth slightly over this installment. Super happy that I picked this one back up after randomly stopping after 125 pages though. After spending some time away from Mawyndulë, I'm less annoyed by his ignorance.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
August 19, 2017

You know going into an MJS book that it's going to be character driven not action but still I thought after reading book one that book two the story would pick up it's pace. His writing style allowed me to enjoy this book but at times I would think why did we just spend two paragraphs talking about a character's love of twine or something else benign. I get the author wanting you to know the characters intimately and that's his strength but there's a point of overload.

For me there were two character story lines that outshined the rest to the point of eclipse.

The first was Suri. The hardships and tough choices of a 14 year old girl with that type of spirit was heart wrenching. I loved her development and didn't find anything in her story superfluous.

The second was Mawyndulë whose story was intriguing from the start especially if you've read revelations. MJS did a good job of blending his faults and successes along with his naivete.

To a lesser degree I like Moya's story and Nyphron. Nyphron didn't get nearly enough page time. He definitely nothing like the view through Riyria's time.

Looking forward to book 3.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,323 reviews153 followers
July 25, 2017
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?

The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind.

In Age of Myth the story revolved around Raithe the god killer but in Age of Swords the men, although still present, take a bit of a back seat. But I'm sure they will be back more fully in future books. It's Persephone's turn to shine here, along with most of the women in the book. I love that Persephone is the one that sets out to solve the problem of how to win a war against the Fhrey. This time around we meet the Dherg when Persephone, Moya, Brin, Roan, and Arian travel to their homeland, and they find out the Dherg are a tricky bunch; pretty despicable actually. That was the point where I felt like the book got really good. There were so many brilliant ideas and solutions in this book that Persephone, Roan, Brin, and Moya come up with. Once again Michael J. Sullivan does a lovely job of portraying the women in the story. They are always so believable as well. Except for the bit of magic that is used they are not doing superhuman things. They are doing things that any real woman could do, and that makes them so very relatable.

There were several passages in this book that I loved, some of which I found quite amusing. One of my favorite chapters in the book was the one that included the exchanges between Padera and Gifford when he is on the mend from the attack on him. Not only did these make me chuckle, but they are also a good example of how the characters really jump off the page in this book. I love the way they are described. I also love that the many supporting characters still very much contribute to the story. There are a lot of them, but most of them were given a good amount of attention. I love these characters so much! My heart is really aching for a choice one of the characters had to make, and for one of the losses.

Not only do we revisit the Rhune and discover the Dherg in this book, but we also get chapters from the Fhrey as well, namely Mawyndule. I have to say that I did not love him, but I'm hoping that he is starting to mature after what took place among the Fhrey. I'm very curious to find out what he will end up doing. Other things that I'm very impatient to find out about are, how things end up between Persephone and Raithe and this whole thing with Nyphron that's thrown in there, and how things will end up with the healing that Suri is trying to do at the end of the book.

This book has adventure, heartache, self discovery, and loss. All things that make a story great and I can't wait to read Age of War!

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for giving me an advance copy of this book.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,036 reviews668 followers
July 27, 2017
Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

Screaming trees, murderous lightning, fearsome giants and giant killers. Metal-clad dwarfs. Terrifying face-eating raows. A vast cavern across the sea plays host to monsters and secrets. The dirty unkempt individual who stares fixedly at The Door - is it true wisdom he imparts or merely inane prattle? Vows versus promises. Who can be trusted and who will betray?

There is no character, good or bad, major or minor, who isn't drawn with care and attention. This is the second book in the series and I'm all in. Ready for the third. The sooner, the better.
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
576 reviews213 followers
October 9, 2016
My review and rating are based on the beta version of this book; the final published edition will likely be changed a bit.

But that said, it doesn't really need a lot of changes. I'm looking forward to reading and comparing the final version, but this is pretty awesome right now on its own. Fans of Age of Myth have a treat coming out next summer. This book delivers more of what made the first one great, and moves it up a notch.

Favorite characters are further explored and developed. New characters are very intriguing, and supporting characters from the first book are promoted to the main cast. These books have a great developing plot and plenty of good action (and magic!) but to me their strength is character development.

If you like a good fantasy story with great worldbuilding and an interesting magic system that adds flavor to a character driven plot, this is the series for you. There are also other surprises in store, but I won't spoil the fun of discovery :)
Profile Image for Terence.
1,113 reviews345 followers
June 23, 2017
After the destruction of Dahl Rhen by the Fhrey, Persephone sets out to call a council of all Rhune Chieftains in order to appoint a keenig to lead them in the inevitable war with the Fhrey. When the council attempts to make Raithe the keenig he refuses. He believes the fight is unwinnable because of the Rhunes pitiful weapons. Persephone makes a pact with three Dwarves that's she's met to help them rid their home of a giant in exchange for Dherg swords and shields. Persephone and her party of women don't know the danger they've volunteered to defeat until they have no choice but to fight.

Age of Swords is the second book in The Legends of the First Empire series. If any fans of Riyria were worried they wouldn't like it, I'd have to say there is no reason for concern. Michael J. Sullivan tells a fresh tale about the heroes of that age while having many subtle tie-ins to the original series. The strength of storytelling along with the excellent characters make this story quite strong. Age of Swords is also much more of an ensemble cast lead by Persephone and Raithe while the original series revolved around Royce, Hadrian, and Arista. The book also utilizes a number of point of views characters.

The story is massive with multiple storylines going on with an overarching goal of trying to defeat the Fhrey in war. The task seems immense, but Persephone would die before she gives up. Persephone really takes charge and felt like the central character in Age of Swords. Her determination is truly remarkable.

There is so much I'd like to say about Age of Swords, but unfortunately there isn't much I can reveal with spoiling the story for others. Suffice to say Age of Swords is a strong sequel to Age of Myth.

4 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,493 reviews959 followers
June 19, 2020

Persephone scowled. “First it’s a giant, then a demon, now we face an ancient fiend summoned by a being older than the gods?”

And now for something [not] completely different, let’s go for a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl. Because what we have here is epic fantasy, and there’s comfort and joy in exploring these familiar dark caverns lit by bioluminescent fungus and populated with scary monsters that seem to have crawled out of a Dungeon & Dragons manual.

The second novel in the “First Empire” series is an improvement over the opening gambit, just like fans of the author predicted. It also manages to remain firmly anchored in the traditional Tolkien mould, with elves, dwarfs, goblins and eventually even while bringing into the equation enough modern elements to soothe even the most ardent militant for social justice.

I made a particular note of this trend, because it plays an important role in the economy of this second episode and because it is a deliberate step on the part of the author in his desire to redress some glaring Tolkien shortcomings in the portrayal of women as a primary focus and social emancipation as a secondary theme.

I think it’s not much of a spoiler to reveal that the questing party is made entirely of women. Persephone, the Rhen clan chief, leaves the standard hulking swordman Raithe behind to guard the home fires and sulk while she picks teenager Suri and her wolf, injured Fhrey wizard Arion, sharp tongued temptress Moya and autistic genius Roan as her team that will set sail from Rhulyn territory towards Neith - the ancient underground metropolis built by the Belgriclungreians. Oh, and they don’t like to be called Dherg, but might accept the appellation of dwarfs. Their mission: to acquire modern weaponry, mostly swords from the dwarfs in exchange for getting rid of the giant that lives in the underground passages of Neith.

The novel moves along at a brisk pace, with occasional detours into character development. The foundation laid in the first book regarding these characters and the expanded worldbuilding makes this second outing easier to follow, and you can hardly fault the members on the team for acting heroic and learning valuable life lessons along the way.

I did have some minor nigglings, but not enough to make me hesitate to pick the next book in the series. Mostly, these doubts are related to the chapters in the Fhrey capital city, dealing mostly with internal power games among the Miralyth tribe. The bad guy of the equation is about as stupid and as boringly conventional as the one in the first book. I believe the series deserves better adversaries, but there is still enough time to develop one, even based on such flimsy initial offerings. There’s also something fishy about the Fhrey society as a whole, since we are only presented with the high end political perspective, but with very little information about the economic viability of their advanced society. (This criticism could also be directed at Tolkien’s elves). On the plus side, there is some progress regarding the mysterious person who hangs out in front of the magic portal in the center of the sacred grove.

Speaking of technology, I’m getting fed up with the insistence of re-creating several millennia of technological development in the space of several weeks, and all by the hand of one person. From pottery wheel to heavy load carts, from stone tipped lances to metal working, archery, weaving, on and on, it appears all you need is a single Leonardo da Vinci clone to bring your whole society out of the stone age in the blink of an eye. (In her defense, Roan has some inputs from the more advanced dwarfs for some of her ‘inventions’)

In general, I’ve been a fan of the prose ever since the first Riyria books, and these First Empire novels are in many ways similar in style. The jokes may be a little more forced, and the uplifting discourses starting to get preachy, but at the end of the day, I come to classic fantasy for fun adventures in exotic lands, and I’m sure I will come back to Persephone and her friends soon enough.
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