The Crown Tower: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 1 starts with a nice forward from the author, Michael J. Sullivan, where he explains why he decided to wr..Show More »ite the prequel stories, The Riyria Chronicles, after having published The Riyria Revelations. And in the forward he says that he wrote them in a way that readers could enjoy reading the stories in order of publication (Revelations first, then Chronicles) or in order of events (Chronicles first, then Revelations). Having read all The Riyria Revelations books and now having listened to the first of The Chronicles, I think that is mostly true - you could follow the story in either order. However, The Crown Tower is bound to be a joy and great fun to anyone who enjoyed The Revelations, but isn't likely to be as compelling to those who have not. All the world building and plot setup is done in The Revelations and you just aren't going to understand what it means when someone says, "By Maribor,....", the hostility toward "the church", and some other references in The Crown Tower without reading The Revelations books. The Revelations is the place to fall in love with Michael Sullivan's world and its characters; The Chronicles provide icing on a really great cake.
If you have already read and loved The Revelations, you are gonna be thrilled with The Crown Tower. The boys (Hadrian and Royce) are back, but not quite the amazing pair they came to be in The Revelations. The Crown Tower goes through their first adventure together forced on them by Professor Arcadius (remember him??) and we get some wonderful insights into how these opposites came together to make such a great team. Michael Sullivan's style is consistent - quick paced, great settings, good plotting, even minor characters have dimension, and very witty dialog. One other similarity with The Revelations; Sullivan writes great fight scenes even for a reader like me who isn't too into the normal violence of high fantasy. In addition to taking us back to the beginning of the daring duo, The Crown Tower gives us an origin narrative for Gwen which I found surprisingly compelling. I will admit that I wasn't overly fond of the Gwen character in The Revelations books - mostly only liked her for her protectiveness of Royce. However, when you get the back-story on Gwen, she becomes a much more sympathetic and understandable character.
I really like the pairing of Sullivan's writing with Tim Reynolds narration. Not only did Reynolds do the narration for The Revelations books which keeps The Crown Tower sounding nicely consistent, but Reynolds seems a natural for Sullivan's books. Reynolds shades his voice more than changing it for character voices/accents, but it is plenty to make the dialog easy to follow and keeps Sullivan's very adventuresome writing from sounding "over the top" while still maintaining a nice narrative tension throughout the book.
If you haven't read The Riyria Revelations books, please start there and if you like high fantasy at all you will love them. If you have read The Riyria Revelations, dive into The Crown Tower and be prepared to not want to stop until the end of the book. This is a totally satisfying listen that will still leave you wanting MUCH more!!
OK, honestly I was bored most of the way through this one.
I should start by saying I've not read Sullivan's first trilogy, only a short stor..Show More »y of his (featuring Hadrian and Royce) in the Blackguards anthology. I liked it, thought I'd give his larger works a try. I have not read the original trilogy, The Riyria Revelations because I thought I'd start with the prequels. I will also say I 'read' this by way of audiobook.
The Crown Tower follows 2 story threads. One of Hadrian Blackwater as he struggles to find a place in the world after becoming tired of the soldiering way of life. And one of Gwen as she struggles against an abusive pimp.
The story starts off slow. VERY slow. And to be honest, I don't feel it ever really picks up. It's not just a lack of action, it's a lack of anything seemingly important going on at all. The first half of the book feels like Hadrian on a side-quest, and Gwen crossing the street (both literally and metaphorically).
By the second half of the book Hadrian has met his long time life partner, Royce, and the two are thrust together in the hope that they will one day learn to work with each other and teach each other. The problem is, while I can see that one day they will be a fun buddy-cop pair, they just annoyed the hell out of me. Both of them whine and moan... and then moan and whine. And they keep moaning about the same things over and over again. The plot struggles to move forwards. And when they finally do decide to trust each other, it seems rushed (at least on Royce's part). A lifetime of well-earned mistrust and skepticism and suspicion seems undone by one selfless act on Hadrian's part.
Gwen's entire story (while interesting) only actually intersects with Hadrian and Royce's on the penultimate chapter. It feels like two separate stories, not one. And there are too many threads left completely unfinished. We have a chapter from Gwen's nemesis' point of view at one point and then he's foiled once by her (fairly easily) and we never hear from him again. That particular plot line felt a lot like filler.
The problem is, I wanted to like the book. I loved the short story (Professional Integrity) in Blackguards and wanted to read more of Hadrian and Royce. Perhaps I should have started with Revelations because it feels like this book is written for fans of that series rather than potential new readers. If I already knew the characters well and loved them I'd probably be giggling with joy over every sarcastic interaction... but I don't. Maybe I'll give Revelations a try after the sour taste has faded.
Overall I give this one 2 stars because it's well-written and Gwen's story is very interesting.
My experience with the Riyria books started with Theft of Swords and proceeded forward in publishing order, which means I finished the Riyria Revelati..Show More »ons series before starting on the prequel stories of the Riyria Chronicles. I believe such a path increased my enjoyment of The Rose and the Thorn simply because of the knowledge I have regarding a lot of the main characters. Arista, Gwen, Reuben Hilfred, and even Percy Braga are fleshed out in this book and I really enjoyed learning more about them. This is a prequel story done right.
Unlike the Crown Tower, the time Royce and Hadrian have a more established relationship which allows Michael J Sullivan to really bring to life the world around them. This approach combined with a compelling story line makes this book as good as the latter works of The Riyria Revelation series. It also reveals the root causes for certain events that will happen much later in the series so MJS is working his magic in both directions making both Chronological and Publishing viable listening orders.
Either way you can't go wrong with this book. Tim Gerard Reynolds is well established as the voice of the Riyria characters and he does not disappoint. Note that if you pick this one up then there is no need for you to also grab The Viscount and the Witch as that is fully contained as a chapter within this book.
At the beginning of this listen is a word from the author. He states he does not want to wear out the welcome of these 2 wonderful characters. I agr..Show More »ee that there is nothing sadder than to see much loved characters wear thin. However, that is not the case here!! This story is every bit as rich and colorful as the first book in the series. Whenever Mr Sullivan gets the urge to continue this story I say MORE PLEASE!!!!!!! Prior to reading this book I went back and re-listened to the whole series and enjoyed every minute of it. I am sure I will reread them again in the future. This is one of the finest series of books available in this genre and I have read a lot of them. I can't leave without also giving a huge thumbs up to Tim Gerard Reynolds. I can't imagine anyone else who could have given a better voice to these stories!
Remember the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark where a whole adventure happens before the opening credits? This is sort of like that, plenty happen..Show More »s in a brief time. It's probably not as much fun for those who don't already know our heroes, but I hope people try it out and go on to listen to the whole series. The ending made me laugh out loud. I hope there is a law that Tim Reynolds is the only person allowed to read Riyria books, as I wouldn't be able to stand any different voice.
Great visit to the world of Royce and Hadrian, in their typical characters, and in a story with several twists and turns. If only we could get a fix o..Show More »f them every month! Tim Reynolds is the only one who should ever read this series as he is perfect!