Avempartha, Book Two of The Riyria Revelations

Posted on: January 21, 2010
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Avempartha, Book Two of The Riyria Revelations
By Michael Sullivan


Reviewed by Rocky Reichman, Editor-in-Chief of Literary Magic.



I think I was just struck by lightning. No, wait—that was just Michael Sullivan’s Avempartha racing through my head.


Reading this novel will leave you feeling dazzled and rocked. The story aims well at its goal. Its target. And like lightning, it never misses its mark throughout the entire story.


Fantasy is a crowded genere. Especially Sword and Sorcery. So why does this book succeed? Because it’s different. The story revolves around a local setting. Around people whose actions the reader would not think insignificant in the greater scheme of the wolrld. But Author Sullivan has managed to write about something as small scale then apply it to the greater picture. What does that mean? Many Fantasy novels focus on epic stories that “change the fate of the world.” That works, most of the time, but then the readers meet the cast of characters. Characters who are at the “top of the food chain.” Untouchable.


So why should I read the book then? If the characters have special powers, where’s the challenge?
Avempartha steers clear of this error and turns a negative into a positive. The main characters in this novel are thieves. Not kings or queens. Not powerful wizards. Just thieves. Not exactly “top of the food chain” material. But then Sullivan does something marvelous. Something that turns a good story into a great story. He turns his common, seemingly insignificant cast of characters—excluding the royalty that sometimes accompanies them—and endowed the characters with roles meant for “top of the food chain” characters.
In the end, it turns out Avempartha’s characters do end up “changing the world.” But the author did not start out claiming such feats. Instead he began with something humble—a pair of thieves hired by a poor woman to save a farm from some beast. Only later on, as Sullivan draws the reader in, does the reader realize that these ordinary characters really aren’t so ordinary after all.


The book was replete with character details, fully describing each person at length. However, the story would have benefitted from less tales of history, which would have allowed for smoother transitions and a heightening of the story’s overall drama.


In Avempartha, Sullivan mastered the use of metaphor, and created one of the best literary comparisons this editor has ever seen, when he described one of his characters—Luis Guy—as a “sword.” No need to spoil the surprise. Read the book and you will know when you reach the part I am referring to.


Real people that readers can relate to. Especially in Fantasy, it is difficult for writers to create dramatic characters, people that cause emotions to stir up in readers. Avempartha succeeds at this, by building characters who are real people, with real-life problems—only they are set in a Fantasy world: Elan. This is evident with the father-daughter relationships between two of the main characters, connecting readers to these “people’s” thoughts and creating emotional reactions when something bad—or good—happens to these characters.


And there is no such thing as “good guys” and “bad guys” in this book, another reason for relief. Not everything is so starkly contrasted. Some “good guys” appear evil at times, threatening murder, and some past murderers become caring allies when help is otherwise nowhere to be found.


But I do have one problem with Avempartha. One very big problem: I became so enthralled in the book that when I read the first chapter, I had to make an effort to take a break and tear my eyes away from the words.


Be careful. This story sparks people’s attention. Like a predator, the story will catch sight of you. And once it does, it will draw you in–and never let go.


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