Skip It: The Crown Tower (The Riyria Chronicles #1) – Michael J. Sullivan

crowntower-2-5

Summary:

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadius can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles are two separate, but related series, and you can start reading with either Theft of Swords (publication order) or The Crown Tower (chronological order)

Review:

As mentioned in my review of The Death of Dulgath, the Riyria Chronicles are meant to be prequel stand alone novels set in the same world as the Riyria Revelations. It’s probably a good thing that they are stand alone, because depending on why you are reading the books, it may well be one you want to give a pass to and for a number of reasons.

First and foremost? If you’re reading these books because you like Hadrian and Royce together, you need to know that the two don’t start talking until the half-way mark of the book. And the Royce-less first half of this book just isn’t that interesting. While it does well to paint Hadrian as naive, it’s just kind of dull and leaves you wondering when we’re going to get to anything interesting. When the pair do meet up, however, you can instantly see that spark that made the first six books so popular. It made me wistful for more.

The other reason you might want to skip this one? Quite frankly, the plot is kind of a stinker. That big impossible heist? So not impossible that (spoiler alert!) it happens off screen. The reason that they just HAVE to work together? Because. Literally. There’s not an actual logic-basic reason for them to do so, it’s just because the old wizard has this hunch that this pairing will be Special and makes them work together so Royce can discharge a debt to him. I found it cringe-worthy and almost rage-quit the book because it’s so contrived that it’s hard to believe that the desired end result of them working together would really happen.

Finally, this book almost half-a-dozen narrators, at least one or two too many that don’t add enough to the story before disappearing to have warranted their inclusion.

Ultimately this is just bog-standard fantasy that lacks the charm that elevates the other works. If this had been my introduction to the series, I don’t know that I’d have bothered reading any other because it just felt so underwhelming. Thankfully, I have and I still do plan to eventually read The Rose and the Thorn at some point in the future and I hope that I’ll get sucked back into this world.

As for you? Well, if you don’t mind the basics, it’s an okay enough read. But if I could make different choices during the Kickstarter, I’d picked up Theft of Swords instead. This book really was made for people who already love the characters, and I think that lack of emotional investment made this a much rougher read than it otherwise would have been for me.

Verdict: Skip it

Available: Now.

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