Book Review: Age of Swords – by Michael J. Sullivan

Legends of the First Empire Book #2

Epic Fantasy

Del Rey Books: July 25, 2017

465 pages

3/5 ✪

This was a difficult book to review, as Michael J. Sullivan did many things well, he just waited a while to do them. I was disappointed overall, but the story is still a can’t-miss in my book, if only for how it bridges the gap between 1 and 3. Strong female characters step up to take center stage in this sequel to Age of Myth, making an enjoyable read into something more dynamic and inspiring. A greater perspective of the different races from men to Fhrey [elves] to Belgriclungreians [dwarves] (and even Grenmorians [giants]) helps give the novel scope, although it continues to lack any dwarf or giant or goblin POV—something I would love to see. However, early, uneven pacing and disappointing POV chapters instead ruin a sophomore effort that could’ve been great.

In addition, frequent sudden, great innovations only seem to cheapen their worth when they are repeated chapter after chapter. The most notable of these—the bow and arrow—goes on to be a major plot device. It’s akin to an author (or Assassin’s Creed) simply throwing in a historical figure just for the hell of it. Not to mention that the invention of the bow predates recorded history, including such things as bronze working, copper working, the wheel, wells, the dahl (and most other earthworks), any known writing system, the sword, pretty much any kind of non-nomadic existence and… well, you get the idea.

After early hiccups, the story really gets going in the second half of the book, in which the strong female leads step up in a big—and badass—way. And yet the conclusion feels cheap on many levels, though I’ll admit I am looking forward to the next installment. The inconsistency of the story and hollow nature of new character POVs in the first half had me abandon the book once or twice before ultimately picking it up again. Once I cleared the 200 (ish) page mark (with the exception of a few bits and pieces) the read became much more smooth and enjoyable.

So… I definitely didn’t love Age of Swords. I was so annoyed reading it that I actually gave up a couple times (yeah, okay, for like a day each), but it is interesting. And it is good. Just needs some work to ensure that the following four books don’t suffer the same shortcomings. Not that that matters, as MJS has already finished writing all the books.

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