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REVIEW: 'The Rose and The Thorn' by Michael J. Sullivan

Two thieves want answers.  Riyria is born.
For more than a year Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner Hadrian Blackwater from certain death. Unable to get her out of his mind, the two thieves return to Medford but receive a very different reception --- Gwen refuses to see them. The victim of abuse by a powerful noble, she suspects that Royce will ignore any danger in his desire for revenge. By turning the thieves away, Gwen hopes to once more protect them. What she doesn't realize is what the two are capable of --- but she's about to find out.


The second novel in the Riyria Chronicles series, like the first novel The Crown Tower, a reader doesn't have to have read the Riyria Revelations to follow along.  This novel did contrast the first, however, in that it introduced several new characters (new for new readers) and dived more into the political landscape of the world of Elan.  Though it doesn't make the story difficult to follow, it's Riyria Revelations and perhaps even future Chronicles novels.
worth paying attention to all the players here as many of them play a role in

For readers of Revelations, they will be all to familiar with many of the characters that make their first appearance here.  Like Gwen from the first novel, they were all interesting characters that deserve more 'screen time' and here, they finally get it.  Though at times, revisiting these characters can be a bit bittersweet.

Royce and Hadrian's role in this story is much more reactive and their time in the story may have even been smaller than the time we spent with the new characters.  Fortunately, it doesn't hurt the book, as all the characters featured are integral to the story and interesting as well, especially the guardsman Reuben Hillfred.  As the plot progresses, Royce and Hadrian play a larger role which adds to the pacing and makes the book difficult to put down once you're a few chapters in.

As for the dynamic duo, we get a look at how they've bonded, if ever so slightly, since the first novel and at the growing pains they are still going through.  Royce in particular has an important moment of growth as he discovers falling back into his own murderous ways isn't the best solution to all of his problems as Hadrian, in a smaller way, learns the same about his pacifism.

Again, a bit of a different type of story than the first novel and we may see that with this series.  With each book able to stand on it's own, every story could end up having a different feel to it, something that may benefit a book about the growth of two characters in a rapidly changing world set a year apart.


I probably don't need to say that readers who enjoyed previous Riyria books would enjoy this, but I just did. So far, all of Sullivan's Riyria books have been very well paced, sword and sorcery style action with strong characters, making them fun and easy to read. I would recommend them to any fan of fantasy, new or veteran, young or old.

The Rose and The Thorn comes out September 17th.

You may also be interested in:

REVIEW: The Crown Tower
REVIEW: Theft of Swords
REVIEW: Rise of Empire
REVIEW: Heir of Novron
INTERVIEW: Michael J. Sullivan on Hollow World Kickstarter

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