Featured Review | The Death of Dulgath – Michael J. Sullivan

About the Book

When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start life as rogues-for-hire. Things have gone well enough until they’re asked to help prevent a murder. Now they must venture into an ancient corner of the world to save a mysterious woman who knows more about Royce than is safe and cares less about herself than is sane.

From the best-selling author of The Riyria Revelations comes the third installment of The Riyria Chronicles. Although part of a series, it’s designed to thrill both new readers looking for fun, fast-paced fantasy and Riyria veterans wishing to reunite with old friends.

448 pages
Published on December 1, 2015
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a huge fan of Michael J. Sullivan. I love all of his books. His writing is easy to absorb, a lot of fun, and manages to keep me engaged constantly. His books are the sort where I’d pass hours reading them and having a blast doing it. Books like that are important. They keep me remembering why I enjoy reading so much.

I’ve really been enjoying these side jaunts of Royce and Hadrian that Sullivan has been writing. It adds a lot of punch to a world that he’s already so vividly crafted, while keeping me focused on two characters that I have loved for years. Honestly, after not reading about them for a while, reading a new story set in their world is like coming home again.

This book is interesting for a few reasons. As a prequel to Sullivan’s popular Riyria Revelations series (the third of which) it is a great place for readers to learn a bit more about the world, the characters, and the events that have made them who they are. Sullivan has a knack for inserting a good dose of history and education in his novels without hitting readers with it. He keeps it fun and light, and surprising, but never overwhelming. It’s easy to sit back and enjoy seeing who Royce and Hadrian were before they hit the Riyria Revelations books.

In that regard, while I do think new readers could start here if they wanted to, but I’d recommend you start at the beginning of the Riyria Chronicles, or Riyria Revelations first. While I think you could easily have fun with this novel on its own, the gut-punch and entertainment value will probably be upped a bit if you have previous experience with the characters and the world.

Anyway, back to my diatribe.

The mystery of Death of Dulgath was rather straightforward, and didn’t overwhelm me overly much. What I truly enjoyed about this novel was the growth, the developing relationship between Royce and Hadrian, and the history of various cultures and peoples that Sullivan liberally splashed throughout the novel. Royce and Hadrian are obviously at their early years as a partnership, and Sullivan has a lot of fun showing just how trying and rewarding that early relationship truly was. He had me laughing quite a bit at certain moments, and feeling deep, powerful emotions at others. These two characters are so real they practically leap off the page.

The world itself grows quite a bit as Royce and Hadrian end up traveling elsewhere on a job. Elsewhere ends up being a rather interesting place, with a medieval feeling culture that has quite a few surprises thrown in to keep things interesting. With a powerful religious influence, and an elevated lady who is absolutely her own woman. Thrown in with this are some fantastic dollops of magic and very ancient history. It’s quite ambitious when you consider just how much Sullivan packed into this novel, but it never lost its fun vibe or intense emotions.

It’s hard not to love this novel. It really is a lot of fun, but it’s also quite educational and informative, and gives me a new perspective regarding some aspects of the rest of Sullivan’s novels set in this world. However, what always impresses me with Sullivan’s work is just how real it all is. He not only manages to pack this book with some intense world building and some dynamic history, but he also never kept this book from being fun, and always managed me to feel incredibly strongly for the characters that were involved in whatever situation I was reading about at the time. That takes skill, because usually when I read a novel that I define as “fun,” I tend to not be incredibly emotionally invested in it. Not with Sullivan. He managed to make this book fun, and quite compelling at the same time.

There are plenty of twists and turns, a good number of surprises, and a lot of pleasant intensity, but Death of Dulgath shines because I can tell that the author really loved what he was doing, and I felt that in the book. All of the edges and details shined bright, and added a lot of layers and texture to a world and characters that I have intensely loved for years. I loved the mystery, the history, and the surprises, but I loved how much Sullivan obviously enjoyed writing this novel even more. That made all the difference.


5/5 stars

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