Legends of the First Empire #1
Del Rey; June 28, 2016
387 pages (HC)
4.0 / 5 ✪
Since the dawn of time, humans have worshipped the Fhrey as gods, never before crossing the Bern or North Branch Rivers into the green lands beyond, which their gods inhabit. In fact, none have dared cross these bounds, instead staying on the barren stretch of land north of the Broken Lands which constitutes Rhulyn. Not, at least, until recently.
Raithe currently wishes he’d not broken this particular tradition. After just crossing to a small islet at the junction of the two rivers, a god appeared, killed his father, and prepared to kill Raithe himself. Except that he killed it first. A god. Dead. By his hand. It was quite perplexing, to be honest.
From here, Raithe and Malcolm—a human servant, formerly of the Fhrey—turn south, fleeing the old gods wrath. Meanwhile, Persephone, wife to the Chief of Dal Rhen for the last 20 years, has just been widowed. And with her husband following their son into the afterlife, she awaits the passing of the mantle that will fade her into obscurity. And yet, it’s hard to just let it happen. So when the mystic girl Suri comes bringing portents of their impending doom, Persephone takes it upon herself to keep them safe. The Fhrey are on the warpath, and no Rhune is safe from them. But just when the light is fading and all hope is lost—enter Raithe: the God-Killer.
Confronted by a impending storm that threatens to wipe out their people, Raithe, Malcolm, Suri and Persephone must band together to somehow salvage humanity. They are joined in this endeavor by several unlikely characters, allies, and not-exactly-enemies. Can they keep humanity alive? Or will the birth of legends be the end of the Age of Myth?
It’s a generally good series debut. Michael J. Sullivan, author of Riyria fame, weaves an expansive story set early in his world of Elan; the humble roots of what will become a legend. Of course, the world-building is amazing. This tantalizing tale begins the Legends of the First Empire, a six book epic that will lay the foundation of the world we’ve all come to love from the Riyria Revelations and Chronicles. After his planned six books, I can only imagine how thorough the lore will be. In fact, having now read five of them, I can tell you that the Age of Myth is just the tip of the iceberg, lore-wise. And the story that Sullivan tells in it is just the first in an epic legend. While I wasn’t thrilled with the first half of the six book series, I did find it helpful to read all five leading up to the release of the sixth. And where I found the first three lacking (mostly the first two, though), the last two were both incredible!
The POVs in AoM were pretty solid. Raithe, Persephone, Suri all take turns with the narrative, of course, and are joined by Brin, lorekeeper of Dal Rhen; and two Fhrey Mawyndulë, prince to the fane, and Arion, the Miralyith—wizardess—assigned as his tutor. A few more join these, all of which are generally likable, at least as POVs go.
While the story starts off strong and carries along nicely for the first half or so, uneven pacing bogs it down somewhat in the later stages. Additionally, though I certainly enjoyed my time with it, Age of Myth just didn’t bring the depth that I’m accustomed to in a Sullivan novel. It was like Crown Conspiracy all over again—well, not that bad, actually. Just a bit less thrilling, a bit less relatable, and a bit less realistic than usual. The whole thing was a solid release, though not perfect. And leading into Age of Swords… well, it could’ve gone better. The character development specifically—which, yes, I realize is difficult in the first book of any series—was weak, practically nonexistent but for Raithe and Arion, who adapted a bit over its course.
All in all, I expected more from Age of Myth than it delivered. I mean, it’s still a solid four-star read. Has interesting characters, an entertaining plot, and builds upon the expansive lore only hinted at in the Riyria books. But I’ve a high opinion of Michael J. Sullivan’s authorial skills. The book lags a bit in places. And while every POV is generally good, none wowed me. While Age of Myth was quite the read—it wasn’t perfect. But I’d certainly recommend it. Both the book and the following series. The first of a planned six books, Age of Myth begins the Legends of the First Empire, a series which becomes more and more amazing as it goes on. And so reading the first one—which shouldn’t prove much of a challenge—is key.
Legends of the First Empire continues with the Age of Swords—Book 2—and follows on with Age of War, Age of Legend and Age of Death. Age of Empyre—out later this year—concludes the series, so you’ve got a little to catch up, but shouldn’t waste anymore time. Get on it!