The Riyria Revelations: A Series Overview by Michael J. Sullivan

This post is part of ‘Michael J. Sullivan as featured author for an entire week’. During the week we will be having a number of posts by Michael. You can find the details here. There will also be a giveaway happening for Michael J. Sullivan’s Theft of Swords, which is the first book in the Riyria Revelations series. Details of the giveaway can be found here.

The Riyria Revelations was twenty-one years in the making and while it was never intended to be published at all, it has come to market by each of the various publishing paths: a small press (AMI), self-published (through my wife’s company, Ridan), and now through a big-six traditional publisher (Orbit, fantasy imprint of publishing giant Hachette Book Group).

The reason that I say it was never intended to be published is because there was a time when I had given up on my dream of writing for a living. Most of the story came to me during a period of ten years when I never touched the keyboard. When I finally broke down and decided to write again, publishing was not one of my goals. I wrote the series merely as something that I wanted to read.  My intention was to make it available only to friends and family, and in many ways this decision freed me to write something that is, I hope you’ll agree, unique.

In order to get a book published, the first book has to be strong…really strong…it must reveal a great deal about the characters and their world so that readers will be compelled to continue on to the next. Similarly, many books are really not a series at all, but merely a string of sequels.  In this traditional technique you learn all, or most, of what you need in the first book and the rest are merely further adventures with the same well defined people you already know and love in a world that you were already drawn into.

The Riyria Revelations is not that kind of story.  I wrote the entire series…yes all six books…before the first was released. My goal was to focus on making the last book the best—to have a series that builds slowly, over time. I wrote each one as an individual episode with its own conflict and resolution, but also added overarching mysteries that would span several volumes. Doing so meant that a great deal is held back in the early volumes and so, by definition, makes them the weakest links.

When the series was picked up, and a captivated audience was no longer guaranteed, this back-loading is a huge risk. There are those who may leave the series early after finding the initial books lacking in depth or the characters appearing shallow or ill-defined. In some ways, their conclusions are correct, but what they don’t know is these deficiencies are not due to lack of skill, but a carefully designed plan to provide that depth in layers as the series progresses. When the books were republished, I could have changed the story to be front-loaded. Doing so would have made for a better beginning, but in the long run it would have diminished the series. I would rather focus on making the story the best it could possibly be for those who read the entire thing, and let those people be a judge on my skill and decisions.

So what is The Riyria Revelations all about? Well there’s no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, or quest for a magical item to save mankind. Instead it’s a story about two unlikely heroes who find themselves caught up in events with epic consequences. The two main characters are very different people who share a common bond of loyalty and friendship. Royce, is a cynical thief, hardened by a life hard lived who trusts next to no one. Hadrian is an ex-mercenary who would prefer to be doing just about anything other than making a living off of other’s misfortunes. When they are hired to steal a sword they find themselves framed for the murder of king and caught in a conspiracy that goes beyond the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

While Royce and Hadrian remain important characters throughout the series, there are actually four main protagonists as there are two women who are also brought front and center as the series progresses. To say too much about them might ruin some of the fun, but suffice to say women are, eventually, equally represented.

As mentioned the series was originally written as six books, which are now out of print and the new version is released as three, two-book omnibus editions as follows:

Theft of Swords consisting of The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha

Rise of Empire consisting of Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm

Heir of Novron  consisting of Wintertide & Percepliquis*

Here is a bit about each book:

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

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 epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

The secret is in the tower. The problem is the beast. The answer is two thieves.

When a destitute young woman hires two thieves to help save her remote village from nocturnal attacks, they are drawn into the schemes of the wizard Esrahaddon. While Royce struggles to breech the secrets of an ancient elven tower, Hadrian attempts to rally the villagers to defend themselves against an unseen killer. When the Nyphron church arrives, it starts a series of events that will have repercussions throughout all of Elan.

A puppet is crowned. The true heir remains hidden. A rogue’s secret could change everything.

War has come to Melengar and once more Royce and Hadrian are hired to make a desperate gamble and form an alliance with the Nationalists who are opposing those working to reunite the kingdoms of Elan. As the power of the Nyphron Empire grows, so does Royce’s suspicion that an ancient wizard is using the thieves as pawns in his own quest for power. To find the truth, Royce must unravel the secret of Hadrian’s past—what he discovers may end their friendship and break Riyria in two.

A message is intercepted. A sinister plan has been launched. Two thieves stand in the way.
Ex-mercenary Hadrian Blackwater sets course on a high seas adventure to find the lost Heir of Novron. His only hope lies in confronting the ruthless and cunning Merrick Marius. Fearing Hadrian is not up to the challenge, Royce joins his ex-partner for one last mission. Their journey finds them adrift amid treachery and betrayals forcing Hadrian to face a past he had hoped to never see again.

A forced wedding. A double execution. Two thieves have other plans.
The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists on the high holiday of Wintertide with the marriage of Empress Modina and the executions of Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar. Once the empress suffers a fatal accident, everything will be perfect. There is only one problem—Royce and Hadrian have finally found the Heir of Novron and they have other holiday plans.

It all comes down to this: The elves have crossed the Nidwalden and Novron’s Heir must finally act.

“I saw a great journey. Ten upon the road, she who wears the light will lead the way. The road goes deep into the earth, and into despair. The voices of the dead guide your steps…Cold grips the world, death comes to all, and a choice is before you.” — Fan Irlanu, Tenkin Seer of Oudorro Village

Percepliquis is the final installment of the epic fantasy, The Riyria Revelations. This saga began with two thieves caught in the wrong place at the right time who were launched on a series of ever escalating adventures. In the final installment all will be revealed in this final exciting conclusion.


7 responses to “The Riyria Revelations: A Series Overview by Michael J. Sullivan

  1. Pingback: Michael J. Sullivan as featured author for an entire week! | Ritesh Kala's Book Reviews

  2. I think these books will make good movies. Nice story line! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Ritesh..Please change the title – there is a spelling mistake in author’s name..

  4. Pingback: Interview with the author of the ‘ Riyria Revelations’ series, Michael J. Sullivan | Ritesh Kala's Book Reviews

  5. Pingback: Percepliquis: The series concludes by Michael J Sullivan | Ritesh Kala's Book Reviews

  6. Well, fancy running into a fellow Spoon as the results of a Google search! Hello, Ritesh.

    I have a question for you, about some books I am trying to find, but couldn’t find a “Contact Us” button or page anywhere.

    A friend and I were talking about science-fiction books and she told me she was trying to find a six-book series she had read a while back. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember the name of the author, the titles of any of the books in the series, nor the names of any characters or places from the series. What she described sounded more like fantasy, to me, but she said it really was more like science fiction.

    She said the books are about a man (who may have been a prince) and his companion (who even may have been an animal) who, for whatever reason either have killed the king or are attempting to kill the king but other people keep chasing after them and they have to keep escaping through other worlds. Also, from what she could recall, the series was from the 1980s.

    Although some of what she said sounded somewhat familiar, it didn’t strike a chord as being anything I had ever read, so I tried a number of Google searches, one of which led to your post about The Riyria Revelations.

    From the description in your post, however, The Riyria Revelations doesn’t really seem to be what my friend was trying to find, so I’m hoping her vague recollection will match up with something you recognise.

    Any ideas?

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