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The Riyria Revelations #1

The Crown Conspiracy

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They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.

There is no ancient evil to defeat, no 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 make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to murder the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out...and so begins this tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

296 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Michael J. Sullivan

114 books92.7k followers
Audible Sale thourgh June 9th. Save 85% on all Elan books $3.04 - $6.29 each.

Esrahaddon, the last book in the Rise and Fall trilogy, is almost done. We've finished the recording of the audiobook and the layout. We are just doing one more typo check past our Gamma readers then it's off to the printers! The ebook and audiobook will release August 15th, with the hardcover coming as soon as it's in our hands.

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!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,270 reviews
Profile Image for Sandi.
510 reviews278 followers
February 20, 2009
I have a problem with fantasy. I do like the genre, but I can't stand multi-volume epics with 900+ pages per volume. I don't like spending 25 pages in a cave or 150 pages fighting a battle. I don't need a six-page description of a tavern. I don't like struggling to figure out how a name is pronounced. Since the fantasy genre seems to be dominated by what I don't like, I tend to approach it with extreme caution.

In my opinion, fantasy authors and publishers could take some lessons from Michael Sullivan's "The Crown Conspiracy." If we could give half stars, I'd give this 4-1/2. Sullivan does a fabulous job of creating a believable world and credible characters without using a ton of exposition. In one sentence, he manages to convey as much as many writers do in 50 pages. The story is fast-paced, unpredictable, and entertaining. It's clear that Sullivan has done his research. His battle scenes are realistically gruesome. I liked how the characters interconnected. I loved the subtly humorous touches.

To me, the best part is when the main characters go to see the wizard in the secret prison. The wizard has been locked up for 900 years and the way he communicates with the heroes is realistic and funny. How often do you ever think about the language barrier 900 years can cause?

I highly recommend "The Crown Conspiracy" for anyone who likes fantasy but doesn't want to get bogged down in an endless series. It is a done-in-one story that leaves plenty of opportunity for both author and reader to revisit that world at any time.
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
235 reviews3,103 followers
April 8, 2022
A fun, lighthearted fantasy book that should be read by any fantasy fan

Check out my new youtube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books seconds after I finish the book.

While certainly not a perfect book, The Crown Conspiracy is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. The two main characters have a wonderful dynamic between them, and I'm always a sucker for "buddy" fantasy duos so this was right up my alley. The plot was engaging and did a good job with some decent twists at the end of the book, and also sets up future books in an adequate way. It's a fast paced, light fantasy read that would serve as a good change-of-pace if you are into reading long, epic style fantasy. Think of it like a nice palate cleanser.

I did have a couple of concerns however. The dialogue felt a bit forced and slightly awkward, and unfortunately it led to the tension of the book completely disappearing. If the main characters aren't worried about things, neither is the reader. And while in some ways the fact this is a light read was good, it also feels a little shallow and doesn't give you that fantastic sense of worldbuilding that many other books give you. The magic is also extremely light, and reads more as a medieval style book with some slight fantasy elements.

Still, it's a fun read and I look forward to continuing the series. In terms of introductory books, Michael J. Sullivan did a very good job here.
Profile Image for Nicole.
731 reviews1,837 followers
June 26, 2021
I wanted to read this series and give Michael Sullivan a second chance not having liked the first two books of the legends of the first empire.

The Crown Conspiracy was fun, however it lacked depth. The characters weren’t developed properly, we barely know anything about their character beyond the obvious. Although Arista’s chapters were few, I was able to learn more about her as a person more than the rest (and I don’t mean it in a good way, like the rest are more mysterious, but they are kinda lacking? The monk wasn’t bad and even Alric, mostly Royce and Hadrian who are supposed to be the main characters). I didn’t hate them for sure just hoped to learn more about their motives or their personality at least.

Just like legends of the first empire we have new names from our world, it makes less sense now having these names 1000 years ago too. At least he could’ve written them differently, like vyctor instead of Victor..

I’ll definitely be continuing this series, I hope it gets better. The premise is already more interesting than that of Legends of the First Empire. The books are short too and not heavy. The writing style is engaging and even the humor isn’t bad.
Profile Image for Overhaul.
272 reviews611 followers
March 15, 2022
"Asesinaron al rey. Buscaron a dos tipos para echarles la culpa. No eligieron bien.."

Este libro no trata de un antiquísimo mal que debe ser destruido, de un pobre niño huérfano que llegará a ser el héroe que salve al mundo. Con su espada mágica y su marca de héroe cumpliendo así una profecía..

Esta es la historia de dos malhechores que están en el lugar equivocado, en el momento equivocado. Royce Melborn, un hábil ladrón, y su compañero, el antiguo mercenario, Hadrian Blackwater, se ganan la vida haciendo trabajos sucios para los nobles. Hasta el día en que alguien les convierte en el chivo expiatorio del asesinato del rey. Condenados a muerte, sólo les queda una salida: desenmascarar al verdadero culpable de la conspiración.

Sullivan hace un trabajo fabuloso al crear un mundo creíble y personajes creíbles sin usar una tonelada de descripciones. En una frase logra transmitir tanto como muchos escritores en 10 páginas. La historia va cogiendo fondo hasta volverse trepidante, es impredecible y entretenida. Está claro que Sullivan ha hecho su investigación, pues tiene no pocas escenas y momentos muy bien trabajados, las escenas de batalla son realmente buenas, sin pelos en la lengua. Me gustó cómo se interconectaban los personajes. Los toques sutilmente humorísticos que tienen ambos personajes le dio al libro un toque de ligereza. Y de enganche.

Estamos en el mundo de Riria. Territorios que fueron conquistados por gente que expulsaron a elfos, enanos y gnomos de sus asentamientos, tratando más que mal el mestizaje, liderados por una agresiva facción religiosa. Como no hay Reyes, vasallos, emperadores, aferrándose a la batalla por el poder y también la supervivencia, pues la sangre corre por los suelos de palacio.

Pero esto lo vivimos más como telón de fondo y atmósfera que como centro de la historia. Bajo la luz en el escenario hay dos ladrones místicos, geniales y talentosos. Mercenarios que hacen el trabajo más sucio de toda la puta aristocracia no les importa mancharse y como no, con poco dinero para gastar pero mucha ambición.

Nuestros protagonistas comienzan su historia son conspiraciones, batallas personales hasta culminar en salvar a todos, en este largo viaje caminaremos por desiertos helados, por mares hasta arriba de tormentas, ciudades perdidas subterráneas, junglas densas y salvajes, cuevas oscuras, blandiendo aceros, espadas, puñales, ballestas. Siguiendo su difícil camino a pesar de la naturaleza y los no pocos obstáculos como príncipes, princesas, magos, emperatrices no comunes, brujas, rebeldes y como no todo tipo de asesinatos con más o menos genoma humano.

Una trama, un buena trama concisa y muy bien diseñada que se va equilibrando con unos muy buenos personajes con una caracterización que esta a la par pues no compite con ella. Creo que el libro es liviano, ágil, una historia que capta nuestra atencion con sus personajes, muy bien escrito y agradable a la par que desagradable. La lucha desesperada por la supervivencia las profecías cambian, y pisotean con la facilidad de los incrédulos ante la palabra de los dioses y nuestros protagonistas se enfrentarán a la muerte.

Las páginas se convierten en una muy irregular línea de viajes, obstáculos y acrobacias a través de Melengar, descubriendo gradualmente más
giros que afectan el curso de su viaje que te hacen adivinar y genera tensión hasta el final.

Una trepidante aventura basada en el concepto clásico, sin escrúpulos pero héroes. Una historia emocionante, todos los personajes están muy bien desarrollados. La relación entre dos de los personajes principales, Royce y Adrian, fue un punto a favor que provoca querer seguir por los momentos que viven.

Recomendable.. ✍️🙋‍♂️
Profile Image for Choko.
1,202 reviews2,584 followers
August 7, 2017
*** 4.25 ***

A buddy read with my friends at BB&B!

You know how some authors feel like they are working on your wave-length​? Well, I think MJS is one of those for me. I love his storytelling style, natural and easy, never jumping into melodramatic nor falling to pedestrian. It is always just the way my senses need it to be. And this is exactly how I like my Fantasy Adventures to be told - with a perfect feel for timing, pacing and a sense of humor. Add an exceptional talent for banter and understated emotional relationships, and you have one of my favorite new authors, whose work has become a must read for me.

This is a re-read for me and it was just as fun the second time around. I love the thieving duo of Royce and Hadrian, aka Riyria, who make for one of the best bromance couples in recent years. They complete each other both in character and physical abilities, as well as areas of expertise when it comes to the art of stealing. They also have a talent of getting in trouble spectacularly! The two of them together are bigger than life, enigmatic and completely lovable. However, in this book, my heart was stolen by the diminutive autistic monk Myron ❤! There is something so tender and innocent, so good and gentle in that weird guy, that I couldn't get enough of him on page! I need more and more, and am grateful to Michael for giving us his time at the end of the book!!!

The story is not complicated, but perfectly paced and just enough to get us hooked on the series. The thieves are hired to steal something from the Castle and get framed for murder. In order to save their lives, they agree to help by abducting the Prince and take him to meet an imprisoned Wizard. Everything else happens around this basic arc. It is interesting, well crafted and a lot of fun. I recommend it to everyone 😀😀😀!!!

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!!!
Profile Image for Allen Walker.
153 reviews1,331 followers
January 18, 2022
Full review here: https://youtu.be/bhkvCa_lg9I

I loved this. If you want to nitpick, we can say 4.5⭐ because of how RIDICULOUS it can be, but this book owns it and wears it like a badge of honor. So much fun.

Snobs beware: you will hate it. 😛
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews656 followers
May 19, 2014
Sorry, guys. I know this is one of the big successes of the self-publishing fantasy biz, but wow, was it not for me. The story lagged, the dialogue was beyond wooden, most of the characters whiny and emotionally immature. It took a good couple of books after this one to get the taste of bad fantasy out of my mouth.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Snjez.
735 reviews382 followers
January 27, 2022
I really enjoyed this. The plot might not be the most original and it's pretty straightforward, but I thought it was a fun read. It's fast-paced, it has a great set of characters and, despite some violence, it feels lighter than what I'm used to in a fantasy book.

This was my first Graphic Audio production and it was such a great listening experience. The sound effects and the music add so much to the story, it feels like watching a movie. There is a full cast of narrators and I can honestly say that I loved all of them.
May 11, 2023
This book:

① Is Despicably Light and Revoltingly Fun (DLaRF™).

② Features a slightly scrumptious cast of yummy characters.

③ Is all about non-stop action and fast-paced everything, yay.

④ Made me fall for a monk again, dammit! First there was Lhiewyn, then there was Brother Caida, and now this? What the fish is wrong with me?! HALP!

⑤ Reminds me of Alexey Pehov’s deliciously entertaining Chronicles of Siala series for some reason. FYI and stuff.

⑥ Is packed with twists and turns and surprises, oh my! (Mr Sullivan sure knows how to keep his readers on their pincers.)

⑦ Brings to light quite a novel outlook on horses and women.

⑧ Is Slightly Very Good (SVG™). (In case you were wondering how I felt about it.)

So. Time for some quick maths:

① + ② + ③ + ④ + ⑤ + ⑥ + ⑦ + ⑧ =

Off to read the next installment in the series posthaste I am! Toodaloo and stuff!

· Book 2: Avempartha ★★★
· Book 3: Nyphron Rising ★★★★

[Pre-review nonsense]

I have a new boyfriend. It's not who you think it is 😬.

Super Short and Crappy Review (SSaCR™) to come and stuff.
Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books701 followers
May 13, 2019
I originally started reading Theft of Swords but quickly changed my goal to a more manageable one. This review is not going to be popular. It might even cause some hurt, for which I am sorry. Usually I give my overall impression first, but this time I want to say that this isn't meant to be a personal attack on anyone. From my limited interaction with Michael, he seems a pleasant, conscientious person. And I have many friends who found honest enjoyment in this book. I am not suggesting anything about the character of anyone who enjoyed this--God knows I have problematic things that I just adore, pip, core, bigotry and all. If you loved this and don't want to hear someone rage about the state of the world and what this book demonstrates regarding it, I don't blame you. Come back later, I have 2 books I'm reading next that I think will get much more level-headed responses!

If you want a rant, though, grab some popcorn.

Now that that's out of the way, I hated this. I found reasons not to read it, like paying bills, skimmed when I could and winced when I couldn't. This is an epic example of how characters like our anti-heroes can be "good" but also perpetuate the absolutely disgusting mindsets about people which characterizes "the nice guy." You know the one, the guy who would never hit a woman, opens doors with a slight bow to "m'lady" and then calls her a bitch when she doesn't blush and smile gratefully and wonders why that woman would go for someone else when he's over here, holding doors and bowing and all he wants is a little bit of simpering or sex. Also, one of his best friends is a person of color who allows him to use slurs, so it's okay if he says it. For me, this book was those interactions over and over and over.


Things I'd stop skimming to read:

-Hadrian and Royce. They were your typical plucky duo, there was sufficient witty banter to be entertaining.

-Myron. Up until he met a girl, he was very cute, albeit unbelievable in just about all regards.

-Any woman talking. I kept hoping they'd do something that put someone in their place. No such luck, but I got my hopes up a few times.

Okay, buckle up, this is where I trash things:

-This is what casual sexism looks like. There are no women who are respected and have both agency and purpose in this story. I thought I'd met one, and then got angry this wasn't her story as it sounded way more interesting. But then, as usual, any woman with an air of competence must be rescued and/or doted upon. But wait! This time there's even a rape joke! Hur hur, bet the five male gods and their raped daughter/sister/wife who is the only divine woman in their mythology have awkward family dinners! Seriously, every woman mentioned was literally one of the archetypes of whore, mother, virgin, and witch, and all of them were either aghast at each other or suddenly forgot how to be humans the second a man looked at them. And let's not forget to reeeeally commit to the "love what you loathe" mentality and take wild potshots at sex workers, too. This is the kind of thing I thought had died by the time Polgara took the stage, but apparently we're in that phase of readership where women being a compilation if hips, lips, and quips for the benefit of their manly companions is now "classic" or "nostalgic" or "cute." I am probably about as upset with the response as I am with the set up, to be quite frank. It shows me how far we have yet to go, and, my friends, we have so far to go.

-Take a little more bigotry, too. This suffers from the classic fantasy genocide. Where are the brown people? The main characters are called humans, they're diurnal and their planet orbits a single star, so it stands to reason they'd have the same pigmentation variation as any other humans. As there is not, I assume something happened to all of them, and if we're being "historically accurate" as I'm guessing this was intended to be, the thing that happened likely wasn't good. Boo. Hiss. Furthermore, where are anyone who isn't a virile male intent on proving how durn-tootin' big his dick is? There's subtle queer antagonism (or misogyny, depending on how you want to view it, I support the argument that it's both) in the forms of mocking men who are not in competition with other men and even the quintessential "yew 'it loik a girl!" type comments. Want more? How about evil dwarves who are just obviously maniacal because...well because! And elves who were enslaved. And like, our good guys must be good because they give one of the abused half elves a horse. I mean, they also casually discuss the difference between slavery and indentured servitude while that half elf is trying to buy food in the face of imminent danger to his safety, but c'mon, I watched the first third of American Psycho and that Patrick fella really stood up for marginalized people at dinner, so I'm sure he was a great human who followed through on his convictions whenever he had a spare horse to give.

Well that was longer than I intended, but this is my review space and those are my thoughts. I don't find this appealing, I find it hard to accept in this digital age when we can see in real time the plight of actual people who are different from us, and have so many tools we can use to help. In a fantasy setting, when there are no real consequences for being a Big Damn Hero, having "help the wretched" not be part of the power fantasy is a huge turn off for me. If you're gonna have slavery in your book, let's be real about that, too, and then get bigger than life about the payback, too.

-As purple as any YA. It takes a master for me to get swept away in seas of adjectives. I could and did skim most of the scenery here as easily as I did girls talking about their heaps of precious gowns and whatever manly smell we like in books these days--leather and soap I think? Anyways, it felt like stock imagery for the most part and aside from knowing who was present and roughly where they were, the rest felt like it could have been trimmed down or made a lot more interesting. I have thoughts on why this book didn't get slammed like those books do, but I'm in a pretty vehemently Ani DiFranco headspace right now so I'll keep that to myself until I've returned this book to the library and have nothing in my line of sight that reminds me of my rage.

-The wizard. Holy crap this was annoying. He talked like Yoda if Yoda was also a drunk failure of a Shakespearean wannabe. There are rules to thee and thou and sentence structure from older English. They weren't followed, let alone any explanation given for its use now. Dude's been talking to an erudite woman competent enough to learn what he can teach for over a year, I think he's seen how things go.

-Caricatures, not characters. You'll know whodunnit almost instantly, and you'll know more or less how they'll undo it about as quick. Make sure you look out for your favorite trope, be it Ignorant Villager, Sheltered Monk, Devious Wizard, Whore With A Heart of Gold, Man with a Past etc. etc. They're all there, wave as you drive by.

-The MCs weren't even that cool!!! Tragedy of tragedy, our extra competent heroes aren't actually super competent. They continuously need people to point out things to them, get caught in ridiculous traps, take actions that even basic education via other books in the genre would point out as bad ideas, and miraculously land on their feet. We're supposed to be in awe of their wherewithal, but I spent most of the time going "so their real power is an author who loves them." And that last line. Oy. I can see them both scrawling that and then turning to the camera, backs together, arms crossed, flat-brimmed ball caps and plastic sunglasses tilted just so.

I can't finish Theft of Swords. I did my best to finish one book to give it a fair shake and I'm so mad I don't think I should talk to anyone for awhile. This is everything that sets my teeth on edge in fantasy and I guess in that, well done. I'm quite ready to snarl if anyone would like a good glance at a girl gone mad.
Profile Image for Saimi Vasquez.
1,347 reviews61 followers
May 14, 2023
Royce y Haiden son dos conocidos ladrones apodados La Riyria, solo se encargan de los trabajos mas dificil y cobran bastante por ello. Asi que cuando le piden que hagan el trabajo de entrar en el castillo y apoderarse de una famosa espada, y le van a pagar 200 monedas de oro por eso, no lo dudan. El problema es que le tendieron una trampa y los estan usando de chivos expiatorios de la muerte del rey, pero solo la princesa parece saber lo que esta pasando y esta dispuesta a ayudarlos con una condicion. Asi que ahora estan embarcados en una mision casi suicida que los va a llevar a conocer mas del reino de lo que esperan, y en su camino encontraran diferentes grupos y personas que los ayudaran a salvar el reino y mantener la paz.

Cuando comence este libro no me esperaba que fuera tan facil de leer y tan adictivo. Esta lleno de accion, aventura, misterio. El autor te lleva de la mano con una narracion sencilla, a entender todo lo que esta pasando y porque, pero tambien te da esperanzas de que al final solo "el bien" triunfara. Ahora, despues que llevaba la mitad del libro, me entere que es una saga, asi que por su puesto voy a continuar con la lectura, ya que aqui dejaron varios puntos abiertos, uno de los cuales es lo que trama el hechicero, y si Alaric es el verdadero rey o no.
En fin, es una historia entretenida, bien narrada y facil de leer, espero que el resto de la saga sea igual de emocionante.
March 10, 2013
The Crown Conspiracy is perfect for readers who enjoy epic fantasy, but in a smaller package. When you have the time and energy for a 500 or more page epic, why not? But if you want a good historical fantasy tale that is shorter but doesn't lack what you enjoy in the genre, then it's great to find one. This is a good choice if you have encountered that dilemma. When I developed a renewed taste for fantasy as an adult reader, I looked at different fantasy novels that many established fans of the genre recommended, and this one continually came up. I've had this on my to read pile for years, and fortunately, my library had a copy. I had a ball reading it.


A good writer can use an economy of words and bring a character to life. Most of my favorite authors are ones who excel at this. I would say Sullivan acquitted himself very well in this area. The portrayal of characters in this novel gave me what I need but also left some mystery. Some characters more than others. He reveals most of their personalities through what they do and say, instead of in long descriptions of them or telling their histories. That's okay with me. I like a story that keeps moving.

As far as characters that stood out the most:

I definitely want to see more of Esrahraddon. But then wizards have that effect on you. The more mysterious the better. Besides Hadrian and Royce, the lead characters, I have to say my favorite was Myron. His sense of wonder about the world (which makes sense considering he was in a monastery for over 30 years and most of his life at the age of 36). He has some of the funniest lines in the book. He's utterly captivated by horses, for instance. He's never seen one before, and he thinks they are brilliant. The same goes for women. You can't help but laugh at him, but it's in a gentle way, because he's really a sweet guy.

Other characters grow on you, such as Prince Alric. He's pretty much a pompous jerk initially. But he comes into his own. You realize that he's not different from Myron. Merely a person shaped by his experiences. He comes to realize that being King is not just luxury and privilege, but also a lot of responsibility and discomfort and self-sacrifice. He learns that the hard way. He also learns who he can trust, and that is not always who he might initially think.

Hadrian and Royce are two of those amiable rogues that make fantasy so fun. They are thieves and proud. But they have honor, in their own way. I like how they end up saving a kingdom, the unlikely heroes of this piece. Although they might be criminals, they are never the bad guys in this book. I liked that distinction. Sometimes you can be on the wrong side of the law and not be a bad person (I am not advocating breaking the law, mind you). Sometimes that law isn’t necessarily fair across the board or makes it hard for you to do what’s right. Or maybe you’re just a criminal who is otherwise a decent person. I don’t see why it can’t happen, at least in theory.

I liked that the characters’ motives aren’t necessarily crystal clear initially. You have to read to see the story develop (sounds like a no-brainer) and what choices the characters make that will define them ultimately, or at least elucidate who they are. There were some nice twists and turns along the way that I wasn't expecting. While some of the secondary characters are less developed, that’s only to be expected, unless you want a 1000 page book, and I definitely don’t.

The World of this Novel and Magic:

What could have been complex world-building instead is simply explained, which is a relief. I like books that have good world-building, but I don’t like things so complicated that I can’t figure out what’s going on or I am drawn out of the story and get bored. The political themes are a constant undercurrent of the story as there is a struggle between the imperialists, nationalists, and royalists, and the main characters get caught up in this struggle on a personal level. The religious foundations and spiritual beliefs of these countries also play a role in the storyline, since the governments are more or less based on the founding/creating gods worshiped. When Myron explained all this to Royce and Hadrian, I admit I was captivated. It made sense, and at the same time, it was rather sophisticated how the ancient past related to the present of the world at the time of this book. Albeit subtle in rendering, magic is part and parcel of this world, used as another instrument to wield for everyday uses. I especially loved Esrahaddon's prison. It was unnerving and yet fascinating that magic allowed such an invention. And the fact that they would go to so much trouble just to keep one person locked up made me long for more information about this unique individual. I wish that Astria had been able to demonstrate more magical ability. She only got to do a couple of simple magical things, and with her role being so important to the story, it would have been nice to see more of her. Perhaps Sullivan didn’t want magic to be a fix all in this book. With that as a presumption, I can understand why he kept magic low key in the story overall.

Overall, I was quite satisfied with this story. I think it was a very good fantasy adventure tale. While I have read some epic fantasy stories that have more wow factor, I think this is one that sneaks in on you and delivers in a way that can’t be questioned. It harkens back to the older adventure tales, such as Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser by Fitz Leiber or even Elric of Melnibone’ by Michael Moorcock. Shorter stories that are great reads in their own way even if they don’t seem as majestic as Tolkien. From reading this work, I would say that Sullivan definitely has a love of this genre, and he created a story that treats it with respect.

I definitely want to follow this series, and it’s gratifying that these books were written in such a way that they are self-contained despite being related to each other. I would recommend The Crown Conspiracy to fantasy readers, and those who want to give the genre a try.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.
Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews286 followers
April 15, 2009
An enjoyable enough book, but nothing that wowed me. It was generally well-paced, but it also wasn't a book that I couldn't put down...

I think one of my complaints was that there wasn't really a lot of character development - it's very much a plot-based book. Which is fine, for what it is - I just, personally, tend to prefer more depth in characters. I felt it was kind of standard "reluctant thief, jovial merc, brat prince thrown into power... Go!"

There were also a few little technical points which annoyed me.

*Might contain slight spoilers*

When the explained how they got the letters, I felt this could've been better if it was more show and less tell. There was that problem in a few places.

The language difference of Esrahaddon, while an understandable and interesting part of the world-building, was a bit awkward. Language would change more in 900 years that a few (sometimes awkwardly placed) thees and thous... and a few altered words. I mean, look at the difference between Chaucer and modern English... and that's, what, a little over 600 years?

And, as someone else mentioned, would a monk whose read a hundred... a thousand books... who remembers everything he reads... really have never come across anything which mentions that horses can be brown, but not blue or green?

I thought the intrigue of who the real traitor was could've been dragged out a bit more... perhaps a less obvious red herring, some more options for who it could've been... Maybe interspersed more throughout the whole story, instead of two or three chapters in succession...

Oh, and one last thing... the whole thing at the end when they attacked the castle, and then Alric reveals himself. I kept thinking how stupid that whole thing was. I mean, they mention that he had his banner or something. How could the people on the gates not know it was him? Or, heck, why wouldn't he try and reveal his identity before releasing arrows on the city? Some sort of parlay, or something? Heck, if he had come in more quietly and revealed himself at the trial, he could've avoided the whole thing.

I just felt that whole part was kind of silly... It didn't make a whole lot of logical sense to me...

*End spoilers*

Anyway, some of them are minor quibbles... some things distracted me while I was reading, 'cause I kept focusing on how awkward or odd something was, instead of being truly invested in the story...

That and I didn't particulary care that much for any of the characters... and I never really felt they were ever in any real kind of danger...

But, um, yes... Still generally entertaining. I didn't dislike it... I just wasn't all that impressed with it, either... I will probably read the next in the series, though, in the hopes that the characters will be fleshed out more as the series continues...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Anna [Bran. San. Stan].
262 reviews82 followers
May 2, 2022
Comfort read - every single time! 💕

As usual, GraphicAudio's dramatized productions make any story better. My only issue was the narrator which slightly diminished the listening experience: While I was a fan of Bradley Smith as both Elend Venture and Wayne in Sanderson's respective Mistborn series and also as Szeth in Stormlight Archive, as a narrator he seems utterly bored by what he is reading, the intonation being the same all the time.

On the bright side, Royce and Hadrian were perfect; Chris Genebach, who also lends Waxilium his voice in the second Mistborn series, is Hadrian but with a distinctly different tone of voice and accent than distinguished Wax.

Well worth listening to!

Note: This is a review of the GraphicAudio production only. Review of the book itself to come.
Profile Image for Tammy.
76 reviews35 followers
August 9, 2016
I'm all about grim dark , complex, dense epic fantasy, I really didn't think i'd enjoy this as much as i did.
The world building was well done, Elan is a beautiful world with rich history and myths. To me the best aspect of this novel was how well defined the characters were. Royce, Hadrian, Alric, Myron...even the antagonists, they all had unique personalities.
As for the story itself, its been a while I've felt this compelled by a book. I couldn't put it down once I started. Given the recent string of books I've read, it was like a welcomed breath of fresh air and it deserves 5 stars for overall enjoyment.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,818 followers
October 6, 2014
Okay, in the spirit of complete disclosure I actually read Theft of Swords which includes this book and Avempartha. Last night however I finished The Crown Conspiracy and have to say I'm exceedingly pleased.

Of late I've read a string of mediocre books. They weren't "bad", I didn't hate them but neither could I get into them. Often I'd get to the point I just didn't care. That's not the case here and if the quality holds up I may become a fan of Mr. Sullivan.

The characters here are not only "well drawn" and complete (and we're still filling out our "heroes") but they work well. They stay true to themselves so you begin to get to know them. The secondary or support characters are also well written. They're complete but getting to know them doesn't take pages and pages of back story it shows up as we get the plot.

Yes, there's a plot, a good concise well laid out plot that balances with the characterization and doesn't compete with it. The book is I think while light and definitely escapism very well written and highly enjoyable.

Believe me I've been in a funk lately and for this book to draw me in and get me involved now says it's interesting and well done.

Here we meet our two protagonists Royce and Hadrian a couple of wise cracking....entrepreneurs. Yes that's what they are, "self employed independent contractors" who work for themselves and are generally willing to sign for whoever pays them well enough.

Of course some people would call them thieves..scoundrels, on occasion even...assassins. These two are well known by what is apparently their their "company or business name" Riyria. And as noted they work for who pays the best. Did they steal something from you that you were sure was impossible to reach and you thought was surely safe? That's okay. For a big enough paycheck they'll steal it back for you from their previous employer...

So, how do these two end up being....the good guys? What string of unplanned "good deeds" could ever land them in the situation of risking their lives to do the right thing? (For proper pay of course).

I think you'll like this one. It looks like the opening salvo in what I hope is a great epic fantasy and I can't wait to get back into the story.

This one I do highly recommend.
Profile Image for Penny.
172 reviews345 followers
July 20, 2016
I loved this book! So much fun, but not without a harsh brutality that lends weight to the story and truth to the world they live in. I adore Royce and Hadrian and find myself invested in them in a way I haven't been in a long time. The other main characters were equally endearing in their own ways and I was never too impatient to get past their stories to get back to my favourites.

I feel like there is still a huge amount to discover about Royce and Hadrian in the following books and I can't wait to read the rest of the series. I'd be annoyed at the fact that I won't be able to get to them soon due to my challenge, but if not for the challenge I might not have read this now, so I'll call it even :)

If you're looking for a fun fantasy that will have you laughing but isn't so light as to be easy to forget, this is a good bet.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,437 reviews829 followers
June 10, 2022
Really liked it but just a little too neatly wrapped up at the end. Straight forward fantasy without the Grimdark. I expected more from the friendship between the two main characters but mainly because many reviews said they enjoyed this aspect of the book, so I was looking out for it. It was a fairly light story told with humour and I m looking forward to the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Sean.
241 reviews
February 11, 2018
This is just the type of book I needed, a fast paced light fantasy read.

It was refreshing to read a fantasy book without complex world building, complex magic systems or tons of different characters. This was just pure classic fantasy.

One issue I had was the dialogue which throughout this felt awkward and forced, also lots of plots in this felt to easy for the characters and I never really felt they were in any real danger.

Mayron was my favourite character and he must be protected at all cost.
Profile Image for Cynnamon.
547 reviews99 followers
April 6, 2022
English version below


Ich hatte mich unheimlich darauf gefreut, die Riyria-Reihe zu beginnen, da sie auf Booktube ja aus allen Ecken über den grünen Klee gelobt wurde.

In diesem ersten Band der Reihe soll den beiden Protagonisten, zwei professionellen und sehr erfolgreichen Dieben, der Mord am König in die Schuhe geschoben werden. Wie sie aus dem Verlies entkommen und ob es ihnen gelingt ihre Unschuld zu beweisen und das Leben des neuen jungen Königs zu retten, müsst ihr dann selbst lesen.

Ich fand den Beginn des Buches extrem holprig, so sehr, dass ich beinahe abgebrochen hätte. Erst so ab 100 Seiten, wenn die eigentliche Geschichte beginnt, wurde es ein wenig interessanter und ich war neugierig genug, um weiterzulesen. Der Autor hatte einige interessante Ideen (z.B das Gefängnis ohne Eingang), aber der gesamte Plot war jetzt nicht wahnsinnig überraschend (was ich nicht schlimm fand).
Schon mehr gestört hat mich der hölzerne und ungelenke Schreibstil, besonders bei den Dialogen und dass witzig gemeinte Szenen und Dialoge oftmals unheimlich gezwungen erschienen.

Dennoch fand ich das Buch am Ende ganz ok und würde es als nette Unterhaltung einordnen und mit 3 Sternen bewerten.
Ich habe den zweiten Band noch hier liegen und werde diesen auch noch lesen, aber vermutlich nicht aktiv nach weiteren Fortsetzungen suchen.


I was really looking forward to starting the Riyria series as it was getting rave reviews on Booktube.

In this first volume of the series, the two protagonists, two professional and very successful thieves, are to be framed to have murdered the king. You will then have to read for yourself how they escape from the dungeon and whether they manage to prove their innocence and save the life of the new young king.

I found the beginning of the book extremely bumpy, so much so that I almost gave up. It only got a little more interesting after 100 pages, when the actual story begins, and I was curious enough to read on. The author had some interesting ideas (e.g. the prison without an entrance) but the whole plot wasn't that surprising (which I didn't mind).
The wooden and awkward writing style bothered me more, especially in the dialogues and that funny scenes and dialogues often seemed tremendously forced.

Nevertheless, I found the book ok in the end and would classify it as nice entertainment and rate it with 3 stars.
I still have the second volume here and will read it, but probably not actively looking for further sequels.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,029 followers
October 22, 2014
16Mar2012: the 6th book finally came out in Jan of this year, so I'm re-reading the series in order. I hadn't realized it had been 3 years since I first started reading this series. I didn't read it in order nor did I read the final copy, except this book. I started out by ARC reading book 2, then read this book, then ARC read the rest of the series except book 6. IOW, I get to read this just for fun this time & enjoyed it very much.


4April2009: It's a fun, quick fantasy read. The setting is pretty much medieval with magic, dwarfs & elves. A strong church conflicts with nobility in a way that leads me to believe we'll see more of this as the series progresses & was quite logical & realistic. Basically, this book is setting up the rest, almost a prologue. There is plenty of action though, which is often lacking in a prologue.

The characters are very likable or hateable, with out much in between, although we do see the development of one from a spoiled brat into a fairly worthy person. The heroes are likable rouges cloaked in some mystery. They're a little too good to be doing what they do, but there is a logical reason for it, we're shown. There is a fair amount of mystery surrounding another character that I'm sure will become a big player later on. The few female characters show some complexity & depth. Their place in society is definitely that of second rate citizens, typical of the setting, yet they are strong enough to fight against it. Each character has their strengths & weaknesses. They demonstrate them, we're not just told about them.

I read the second novel first & then this one. It didn't ruin the story for me, but knowing what I do now, I'd like to go back & read the second book again. I know have knowledge about the world that was hinted at & referred to. I hate it when an author spends too much time recapping the previous story. That wasn't done, which I appreciate.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
May 30, 2018
The Crown Conspiracy was an interesting book. It was a great start to the series and I already have fallen in love with some characters, like Royce and Hadrian. They are, of course, experienced thieves. They steal from the rich.. and basically give it to other rich people? So don't think of them like good ole' Robin Hood.. because they aren't. However, I still loved the shit out of those two.

Now I can't say who I love more out of this awesome duo but I did enjoy getting to know them. They are complete opposites of each other but that's why they work so well. Hadrian is completely lovable yet kind of scary - no, not personality wise but the amount of swords he carries on a daily basis would scare the heck out of me. I wouldn't be able to handle one sword.. let alone three.

Then there's Royce who is rough around the edges. He's tough on the outside but once you get to know him.. well, he's basically a teddy bear. I did love his dry sense of humor and when him and Hadrian would banter I couldn't stop smiling or laughing. They were enjoyable to read about and their friendship was pure gold in my eyes.

Overall, I really enjoyed their story and journey throughout the book. I feel like it was missing something extra but I did still fall in love with everything.

This book also made me think of others books that combined together and made this baby. It's like the lord of the rings and game of thrones got together and made the crown conspiracy. Just go with me on this people!

Profile Image for Sonja Arlow.
1,080 reviews7 followers
March 1, 2021
3.5 stars

I seem to have lost my taste for exceptionally long fantasy novels so the fact that this one was just under 300 pages was right up my ally.

This felt like a mix between an adventure story and one of those quest games where you need to find the secret passage, save the princess and slay the monsters.

Such FUN!!!!

This can probably not be described as the most original trailblazing of stories but its full of likable characters and one of those books you can gobble up in a weekend. It was comfort reading and exactly what I wanted.

Will be reading book 2 very soon.
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
550 reviews1,065 followers
December 3, 2012
Is this a tribute to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? If not, it should be.

This book has received a fair share of glowing reviews, with reviewers praising, among other things, its lack of unnecessary exposition. And it is an enjoyable book, for the most part. However, some attention to detail would not have been amiss.

Is this a Young Adult novel? I’m not sure. Everything is just skimmed over. We hardly have any idea what anybody looks like or how things work. This is a shame, really, since there are some intriguing concepts here. I was especially curious about the nature of Esrahaddon’s abilities.

It’s a quick read, which redeems it. The story is fun and interesting and I did enjoy it, although I did feel that the battle sequence at the castle could have been handled better.

Despite what everyone is going on about, I’m not convinced that this breaks any new ground, and there is almost zero character development worth mentioning, but I am still intrigued enough to read the next book in the series, which does say something.
Profile Image for Anthony Ryan.
Author 85 books8,364 followers
July 30, 2012
Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria Revelations are an entertaining, fast paced and very welcome addition to the ranks of modern fantasy. Sullivan combines the character and world-building skills of Fritz Leiber with the plotting and humour of Dashiell Hammett.
Profile Image for Jess Owens.
306 reviews4,402 followers
July 18, 2021
First read 2017: 4 stars

Reread 2021: 5 stars

Look, I can’t be objective. This is one of my favorite series with my favorite characters. I can’t find flaws. It’s perfect to me.
Profile Image for ChopinFC.
269 reviews76 followers
March 25, 2018

4 1/2 stars

Michael Sullivan does it again! The first installment of the 'Riyria Revelations', is as much as fun as one can get in the 'fantasy genre'!

The book is the first ever written book in the 'Riyria series', and Sullivan does a brilliant job in creating a fast read, with meaningful characters and an engaging enough plot that will leave the reader coming back for more!

In 'The Crown Conspiracy ', we see the creation of one of the most devilishly fun pair of thieves, in 'Hadrian Blackwater' and 'Royce Melbourne'! The book is established in a typical fantasy world, where medieval castles, kings, dukes and earls represent nobility and horses and carriages are your favorite means of transportation. Royce a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian are two enterprising rogues who end up running for their lives when they're framed for the murder of the king.

Ultimately what makes 'The Crown Tower' a real 'gem' is how the book blends two characters that are so polar opporsites, yet they complement each other beautifully! Sullivan really want to prove the point that opposites do indeed attract!

Hadrian is righteous in every way. He's an ex soldier with great brute power and amazing sword fighting skills. Despite his size and dexterity, he's gentle in nature and tend to believe in people despite their shortcomings. He's a true 'gentle giant'. Royce on the other hand is a dirty scoundrel of an assassin, with a much smaller physique, yet he is extremely agile and cunning. Royce always has a dark hood on, bringing an eerie sense of mystique and danger. Together, both characters are almost like 'oil' and 'water', and despite their fundamental differences, we see them form an organic yet quite counter intuitive union that will propel them into both 'Chronicle' and 'Revelation' series!

For a fun, well written fantasy series, with an incredibly well connected linear plot and engaging characters, 'The Riyria Revelation' series is a must read! The first book 'The Crown Conspiracy' will not disappoint!

4 1/2 Stars

Profile Image for TS Chan.
700 reviews868 followers
July 23, 2017
After plowing through a few grimdark novels of significant size this year, I was thirsting for something less mentally exhausting and more fun to read.

Enter Riyria! And what a breath of fresh air this has been.

The Crown Conspiracy is probably the shortest in the series making it a really quick read. It is good introduction to the Riyria duo, Hadrian and Royce, who seemed to be more than what they appear to be on the surface and were complete opposites. Barely 3 chapters in and I was already having a mini crush on Hadrian, the classic warrior hero who is tall, handsome and has a cheerful demeanour - and he carries 3 swords!! I think that was the clincher for me (one does not carry 3 swords unless he really knows how to use them). Royce’s character was a bit harder to warm up to – the thief who probably grew up in harsh conditions and honed to be terribly effective in what he does (he does a dry sense of humour though). But together, the pair just seemed to work and their banter was funny and entertaining.

The plot was simple (the blurb summarises it quite succinctly), the pacing decent with adequate action and elements of danger and mystery. The book just flew by very quickly for me. I have mentioned before that I’m not particular about prose in general, and I appreciate the simple manner of storytelling that was employed by the author.

This is so far leaning more towards what I will refer to as classic fantasy although it's not exactly as traditional as, say, the Belgariad. It's lighthearted and fun, with just the right dose of action, magic and a main character that I can swoon over. What can I say, well-written fantasy tropes can be just plain fun sometimes!
Profile Image for Nimrod Daniel.
143 reviews259 followers
November 12, 2017
A while ago I read The Viscount and the Witch which was really great. I really liked Royce and Hadrian, they made me laugh many times throughout that short story. Writing a good short story is quite a feat that only few authors have.

The Crown Conspiracy was even better than I had expected. Royce and Hadrian are really great characters, they make a very interesting (and hilarious) team. While Hadrian is a righteous ex-soldier, Royce is a cynical thief with a devious mind, and these two guys make a great team, and Ocean 11 instantly pops to my mind when I think about this team. Both are extremely capable, each in his own way. The supporting characters are quite good, and they evolve though the book, which was nice because in some books the supporting characters are somewhat weak.

As for the plot - it gets better as you keep reading. Until 70% mark it was quite good, though it gets better while there's lots of intrigue and schemes are unravel which makes things more interesting. It also seems like the series can expand and become really epic. Plus, the pace is great, it's a very action-oriented book.
Now I'm proceeding with Theft of Swords.

All in all, it's a really fun read, and although there're some fantasy tropes they don't manifest in a traditional way.

Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,304 reviews298 followers
April 12, 2022
Немощно фентъзи, силно "вдъхновено" от творчеството на Толкин.

Не знам, дали е по вина на преводача Радин Григоров или се дължи на стила на автора, но на български текстът звучи често направо кретенски...

Май Григоров все пак е с по-голяма принос - групици, ухилка и тем подобните недомислици или опити за оригиналничене ще да са личен негов принос в осакатяването на българския език.

Жанрът е "Меч и магия", но в първата част от тази поредица няма много магия, освен директно взаимстваната от "Властелинът на пръстените".

И о, изненада, има елфи и джуджета, за сега набутани в миманса, но кой да знае какво ли ни чака в следващите книги...

Чете се бързо, краят бе доста претупан, ма става. :)
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