Age of Myth: Book One of The Legends of the First Empire
Sullivan’s Age of Myth is a new foray into a world (mostly) familiar to readers of the previous Riyria novels. Though sad to not be journeying with Royce and Hadrian once again, I really enjoyed walking with Raithe, Malcolm, Nyphron, Persephone, and the others to meet the Fhrey and learn more intimately their culture. The story starts divided between the trials and tribulations of Raithe and Malcolm, and those of Persephone and Suri, til gradually they become one.
Raithe is the son of a fighting man. Most Dureyans are, pressed to service waging wars for the Fhrey. Desperation sends father and son across the river borders between Rhune land and Fhrey land, where they hope to build a quiet life. Alas, it is not to be. Rhunes are forbidden to dwell across the river. They are discovered by a Fhrey and his two slaves. A brief fight leaves two dead and Raithe fleeing in company of one of the slaves, a man named Malcolm.
Elsewhere, Persephone’s life is thrown into turmoil. Her husband is brought back dead, victim of a bear hunt gone terribly wrong. Others are badly injured, with one having lost an eye and another an arm. It doesn’t take long for a new chief to rise up, incompetent to the post as he may be. Into this mix comes Suri, a young forest-child, a mystic with a serious message.
Persephone is the only one to heed Suri, and she follows the young girl to Magda, an ancient oak of prophecy. Along the way, the pair runs into a spot of trouble and is rescued by Raithe and Malcolm, who go with them to the tree and return to the village of Dahl Ren with them. The newcomers meet with a cool welcome, especially when trouble in the form the Fhrey shows.
Sullivan is a master at weaving in deadpan deliveries, making for some wonderful interactions. This is especially evident with Malcolm. He reminds me a great deal of both the monk in Dragonheart and Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale. It’s also amusingly prevalent with Suri, the young mystic. As always, the descriptions are lovely. One of my favorite lines of all expresses such a beautiful truth. “Sunlight had a way of showing the realities that shadows born of firelight hid.”
Seeds of truth beneath myths do lie, records of the past embellished with symbolism. I love reading myths and seeing what sorts of cultural or practical events are encoded. Climate change, floods, famine, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, tsunami, plague. It’s all there to be teased from our own myths. Reading The Age of Myth was finding those seeds of truth relating to snippets of myth and legend littered throughout the Riyria books. I can’t wait til the next one comes out!
Highly recommended, especially if you like the Riyria books, or books by such notables as Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Scott Lynch, or Patrick Rothfuss.
Michael J. Sullivan