Friday, April 17, 2009

Review: The Crown Conspiracy

The Crown Conspiracy
by Michael J. Sullivan

Format: Paperback, 296 pages
Publisher: Aspirations Media
Cover Design: Michael J. Sullivan
Release Date: October 1, 2008
ISBN-10: 0-980003437
ISBN-13: 978-0980003437

“There is no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time...Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to murder the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.”

Thus states the book’s synopsis on the author’s webpage and it explains the plot pretty well. The Crown Conspiracy is the first book in the six-part Riyria Revelations. Each book is supposed to be part of a larger tale, yet can also be read individually as stand-alone novels. Also, according to the author’s site, all the books in the series are already written so future installments should be coming quite soon. Indeed, the second story, Avempartha, was released last month and if the pattern continues, the third should be out in another five months.

As the reader can tell from the book’s synopsis, The Crown Conspiracy has a little bit of everything. It has elves, murder, wizards, intrigue, war, adventure, and hope. You might think there is too much for one book. And while it’s true that the book comes in just shy of three hundred pages, the plot takes off fairly quickly. Truthfully, the tale is quite concise without much meandering or world building except what is needed for the story. In many ways, the novel takes all the conventional tropes of a traditional fantasy story, takes what it needs, and throws out the rest. What is left is a quick and entertaining read.

One of my complaints with the novel is that the story seemed a little too simplistic. Drama and tension were resolved a little quickly, and some of the character inteactions were a little too easy. My other complaint is that it seems the world isn’t big enough for the story and the people in it. What I mean by that is that while the map at the front shows a fairly good-sized continent with plenty of space, the land as described in the story seems smaller than it should be. For instance, early in the book the main characters cover a fair distance in only one day, a distance that is over half the entire size of a kingdom. Luckily, both of these issues are handled somewhat better towards the end of the novel.

The Crown Conspiracy has a few, small flaws, but on the whole it is also a fast-paced and entertaining story. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. Recommended.

Rating: 7.5/10

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