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Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan is the first volume in The Riyria Revelations and contains the first two books in the series.
In book one, The Crown Conspiracy, Hadrian Blackwater, a mercenary, and his partner Royce Melborn, a thief, are hired by a foreign noble to do a last minute job stealing a sword from the king's castle. However, as they execute their mission, they happen upon the body of the slain king and are framed for the murder. Escaping with the young crown prince in tow, the two go from hired thieves to protectors of the new king. So begins their mission to figure out the traitor who set them up and to restore the rightful heir to the throne.
In book two, Avempartha, a small village near the border of the elvenlands is plagued by a creature that comes at night killing swiftly and indiscriminately. Royce and Hadrian are hired by a young girl who lives there to open an ancient, elven tower in the middle of a raging river. There lies the only weapon that can slay the creature--a sword with its name carved into it. Royce and Hadrian must find a way into the tower, which is also the beast's home, before the village is completely wiped out.
There's more to the plot of both, of course, as there are imperialists, royalists, and nationalists all vying for power, but I'm trying not to give anything away. *wink*
The writing style was kind of simple, but I've never been one for flowery writing, so it works perfectly for me. Makes it a very quick read, which I like. One thing that kind of bothered me throughout was that I didn't get a clear sense of point of view. I would've liked to get into the main characters' heads more. At times, it felt almost omniscient. Mostly the story is action, dialogue, and descriptions. I would have enjoyed reading more reactions and reflections of the characters. Another thing that kind of irked me was that there are soooo many countries and cities to remember. There is a nifty map of the world, but it still gets confusing at times, and I'm not one to have a good memory.
Royce, the thief, is hands down my favorite character. I guess I have a thing for dark-haired, dark-eyed, cynical bastards who keep to themselves. Hadrian is a bit too friendly and happy-go-lucky for my tastes, though he is still a cool character (he carries around three swords, what's not to like?). Their banter is humorous and I love their relationship with one another, especially since they're so completely different. To me, any story with a strong bromance is flipping awesome.
The endings of both books left me wanting more. I'm going to have to order the next volume soon. I find it interesting the series was originally self-published as eBooks. It became such a hit that it was picked up by Orbit.
Overall, action, adventure, death, magic, swords, elves, dwarves, fallen empires, lost heirs...I don't see how I couldn't like it. If you enjoy traditional epic fantasies, then I would recommend this.
If you've read the book, go ahead and share your thoughts.