Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan

“The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists with a day that will never be forgotten. On the high holiday of Wintertide, they plan to execute two traitors (Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar) as well as force the Empress into a marriage of their own design. But they didn’t account for Royce and Hadrian finally locating the Heir of Novron—or the pair’s desire to wreak havoc on the New Empire’s carefully crafted scheme.”

Okay, I’ll just come out and say it: Michael J. Sullivan is officially one of my all-time favorite authors now.  Holy cow, this duology was packed with action and surprises and red herrings and jaw-dropping revelations.  I blazed through nearly 700 pages without a second thought.  In fact, there’s so much that I loved about this book that it’s hard to know where to start.

First, we have the characters.  Sullivan has done an excellent job of letting Royce, Hadrian, and the other long-running characters grow and change.  We’ve watched Royce becoming slowly more compassionate, Hadrian acquiring a harder edge than we’ve previously seen, and the princess Arista going from pampered noble to tough survivor.  In this volume, war comes to the fledgling Empire, and nobody is immune to the chaos and devastation it causes.

Next is the pacing.  With the characters split into a couple of different locations, the author has to jump back and forth between storylines.  He does so with a deft touch and a great instinct for where to leave the action of one plotline and turn to another.  It kept me obsessively reading and even had me tempted to skip ahead chapters to see what happened next… except that the action right in front of me was just as interesting!  Although this was evident throughout the entire series, it’s especially noticeable in this last book, as all the various hints and mysteries begin to unravel and come to light.

What I really loved about this book—and this series—is that the author doesn’t try to be edgy or dark or controversial.  When he wrote this story, he just wanted to tell a good story, with some good characters.  Because of this, you’ll see some themes or elements that are classic to fantasy novels, and you know what?… that’s okay.  It’s more than okay.  It’s all done so well that an incredible tale came out of these common tropes.  There’s no sex, very little cursing, and what violence there is serves the plot and isn’t gratuitous.

Sullivan has given us lucky readers a story that is exciting, funny, dramatic, and tear-inducing by turns.  I honestly cried a couple of times, caught my breath on a few occasions, and nearly screamed out loud near the end.  And if that isn’t the sign of a great book, I don’t know what is.  I cannot recommend Sullivan’s work highly enough.  If you haven’t picked up this series yet, do yourself a huge favor and get them immediately.  Trust me, when you get to the thrills and adventure of Heir of Novron, you’ll be glad you listened to me.

This book was a personal purchase.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

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