Michael J. Sullivan has previously struck gold twice in his fantasy universe, with both the Riyria Revelations and the Riyria Chronicles being incredible successes. With Age of Myth, the first book in the Legends of the First Empire series, it’s becoming very clear that there’s plenty of gold to be struck from within Sullivan’s collected stories. Or maybe he’s just a good writer.
Age of Myth may not be fantasy at its finest, but it is fantasy at its purest. At the genre’s core, fantasy is the longing for a forgotten past that could never have been, but becomes so real to us through story that it helps define the present. Age of Myth isn’t just a fantasy story though. It goes one step further. It’s a fantasy of another fantasy story – that being Riyria, which occurs thousands of years into the world’s future. The legends of the First Empire we hear spoken of in passing throughout the Riyria finally becoming fleshed out through the genius of Age of Myth.
At a time before any major cities were erected, when humanity was still young, they bowed down to the will of the gods – or those they thought were gods. The elves, whose lives span millennia, allow the humans to view them as such so that they knew their rightful place beneath them. Until one day a man kills a god, and humanity learns that they aren’t gods at all. All the while, an evil threat looms over the world.
I loved this story. It grabs hold of you like a fairy tale brought to life. It has all the makings of an epic and it doesn’t let you down. And when the book requires itself to be action-heavy and spectacular, it doesn’t disappoint. The ending of any first book in the series is rarely my favorite part, but for this novel I’ll make it the exception. But what’s so great about Age of Myth is that it isn’t an action-heavy tale. It isn’t a swashbuckling, sword & sorcery book. It’s character driven story that’s down to earth, about a people who are scared of change but embrace it regardless.
Among the books many strengths, one can find faults sprinkled within. The gravest, for me, was ultimately a very minor one. The characters all follow, react, and embody the same character types that we see in Sullivan’s other books. They talk the same way, think the same way, but in the end that’s how Sullivan writes characters. And I do truly love his characters.
Some pretty stunning revelations do rear up by the end of this first book, stuff that I’d expect wouldn’t appear until the very end of the series, which makes me all the more excited for what’s to come next. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about quality dipping, as Sullivan has already finished the entire series, tying everything tightly together, and is slowly pushing one book out at a time. Age of Myth is perhaps my second favorite of Sullivan’s works, after Percepliquis. But it’s a close second. One doesn’t need to have read Riyria to enjoy this either, which makes it a great entry point for his works. I highly recommend it.