From the moment I started reading the Riyria novels by Michael J. Sullivan, I’ve been a fan of his work. He’s a master at world-building, writes fantastic dialogue, and truly takes you to another world. True as that is for the Riyria novels, it’s even more true in Age of Myth, the first in a new epic fantasy series. And it is epic. While the setting technically takes place in the Riyria universe (fans will recognize certain names), the story happens thousands of years before Sullivan’s trademark duo ever appear. Setting aside my fangirl thoughts, I’m being honest when I say that not only is Age of Myth one of the best books I’ve read all year, it’s one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read ever. The story is detailed and eventful, the characters are complex and instantly loveable, and the settings are described beautifully. But there was something else that put this novel on a pedestal for me. I’m a lover of mythology and classic fantasy stories, and Age of Myth built on that. I’ll go into more detail later, but suffice to say that Age of Myth is the pinnacle of high fantasy. It transports you to a whole other world full of suspense, adventure, and tells a truly fantastical story.
What does it mean if the gods can be killed? The first novel in an epic new fantasy series for readers of Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, Peter V. Brett, and Scott Lynch.
Age of Myth, inaugurates an original five-book series, and one of fantasy’s finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.
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 opening of the story jumps right to the catalyst event– main character Raithe, a semi-reluctant warrior, kills a god out of heat-of-the-moment retribution (it’s not a spoiler if it happens in the first chapter!) in front of the god’s slave, Malcolm. From there, the go on the run, knowing that the Fhrey– the gods– will seek revenge on the man who killed them. From there, we’re introduced to new characters such as Persephone, the loyal wife of a human chieftain, Suri, a quirky psychic, and Arion, a powerful sorcerer tasked with a difficult mission. All these forces collide in truly epic fashion, and I’m starving for the next book.
It’s hard to pinpoint the strongest element of this story. The setting is amazing. I was so lost in it that when a familiar name from the Riyria novels came up, I had to remember that it was the same universe, just at a different time. The first couple times that happened I was a little taken out of the story so I could remember Hadrian and Royce’s adventures (or misadventures, depending on how you look at it), but I never really found it distracting. It was more a nostalgia moment, and I’ll never complain about that. Even knowing that it was the same universe, it felt like a different one. This world is more extravagant, particularly where the Fhrey are concerned, but also in regards to the humans. The whole world screamed magic and helped colour the settings and locations.
But as I said before, there was a particular difference that truly enhanced the reading experience for me. More than a few times, most of them Fhrey, talk about legends and other stories about characters we likely will never meet. The telling of these stories draw parallels to the main plot and for me, they added a whole other layer of complexity and depth to what was already a fantastic tale. I loved each one of those side myths as much as I love the central plot.
I can’t recommend Sullivan’s work more highly. It’s always, exciting, fun, and refreshing to a challenging genre. You don’t need to read Sullivan’s other work to enjoy Age of Myth (but you should read it anyway!), but you need to set aside time to read it. Oh, you can pace yourself as I did, but this is the kind of novel lazy weekends were made for. The chance to sit down in the sun and read an epic adventure, soaking in every detail and smirking at every clever quip Raithe and Malcolm use (and they quip a lot). A must for the summer and for all fantasy fans. If you miss this one, you’ll regret it!