I’ve been waiting months for the next instalment in the Legends of the First Empire series by Michael J. Sullivan, Age of Swords. Not only were my expectations met, they were exceeded. Just as with Age of Myth, this sequel is a powerful, emotional tale that truly makes you feel like you’re going on an adventure with unforgettable characters. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a fantasy epic with strong, unconventional female characters, THIS is the book you’ve been waiting for. Seriously, I was too engrossed in the story to really get the “Girl Power!” vibe at first (no spoilers, but suffice it to say that these girls and women were busying kicking ass and I wanted to finish watching them do it), but on later reflection, I fully appreciated just how strong they really were in terms of well rounded characters and role models to women of all ages and backgrounds. They are proof that it doesn’t matter who you are or how high the odds might be stacked against you––if you believe in something, you can fight for and achieve it.
|I don’t know where to begin with this review because I just loved this book so much! The characters are exceptional. One of the things that makes them this way is how they’re crafted. None of the characters are “forced” to be badasses. They simply are. Even the ones who you wouldn’t suspect to be the stereotypical hero, such as the crippled Gifford, bookish Brin, and Roan, the girl who will break your heart and make you cheer at the same time. Every one of these characters has something that makes them special, that defines them as necessity as part of the story. There were a couple moments when I wondered, for example, “What is Brin doing there?” Only to later find the plot hole closed perfectly and think, “Oh… That’s why… That was awesome.” While I’m all for tough-guy heroes like Raithe and commanding women like Persephone, it’s so rewarding to read a book where every character, no matter how broken or flawed, serves as a driving point in the story and neccessary ally to the cause.
Another aspect I loved was the further depth into the world’s lore. What makes this series so unique is that it’s unconventional fantasy; these people and characters are, more or less, primitive, but far from stupid. Roan is a literal genius. Witnessing them learn and utilize weapons and creations we take for granted today was one of the highlights in what continues to be a fantastic series. And of course, there was the action! There were epic battles and betrayals and bloodshed, all leading to a satisfying climax and an ending chapter that already has be biting my nails and stressing. And if all of that isn’t enough to convince you that you NEED these books in your life, look at that cover. Just look at it. It really is a shame I couldn’t find a larger image, because the artwork is gorgeous. I haven’t seen many covers as beautiful as this. I need it framed on my wall.
Age of Swords is not a book to be missed, and will undoubtedly land on my Best Books of the Year List. Read it now!!!