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Monday, September 16, 2013

Early Review: The Rose and the Thorn by Michael J. Sullivan

Title: The Rose and the Thorn 
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Series: The Riyria Chronicles, book 2
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit (September 17th)
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book

For more than a year Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner Hadrian Blackwater from certain death. Unable to get her out of his mind, the two thieves return to Medford but receive a very different reception --- Gwen refuses to see them. The victim of abuse by a powerful noble, she suspects that Royce will ignore any danger in his desire for revenge. By turning the thieves away, Gwen hopes to once more protect them. What she doesn't realize is what the two are capable of --- but she's about to find out.

The Rose and the Thorn is the second book in The Riyria Chronicles."
The Rose and the Thorn starts one year after events in The Crown Tower (first book). Royce and Hadrian have been partners for a year, they are making a good living as thieves, they are enjoying their time together and everyday that passes they get along better.
A year has passed but Royce hasn’t been able to forget Gwen, the woman that saved their lives (The Crown Tower). Not able to keep his distance they travel back to Medford, but when they arrived to their grand surprise Gwen doesn’t receive them. Not understanding Gwen’s behavior they ask around and learned that a powerful noble had beaten her badly. Gwen didn’t want to see them not only for vanity but also as a way to protect them. She knows Royce and knows he wouldn’t let an insult like that pass easily.
Hadrian agrees completely with Royce, the culprit needs to pay for what he did to Gwen, what Hadrian doesn’t agree is with Royce methods, but Hadrian also knows when to fight his battles and this is one he knows he can’t win.

One of my all time favorite series is The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan, luckily for me, his wife and for many of his fervent readers he decided to write a prequel series, The Riyria Chronicles and The Rose and the Thorn is part of that prequel series.
Mr. Sullivan set the standards very high with The Riyria Revelations and now, every time he publishes a book I can’t help it but have high expectations, expectations that he not only meets but exceeds, that was the case with The Crown Tower and that was the case with The Rose and the Thorn.

In this installment we learn more about the new Riyria partnership and how Hadrian and Royce are learning to be and work together. We also see the changes they have had in each other and how they are working to find a balance with their different personalities.

Gwen is still the woman we learned to love in The Crown Tower; she is dedicated to her girls and those she cares for, to the point that she is completely selfless and puts her life in danger to protect others. Her softness is what attracts Royce; he finds in her not only acceptance but also not reservations. Gwen gives herself completely and that is something that intrigues Royce and furthermore calls to him.
Despite some of his actions seeing Royce lose his head for a woman was incredible sweet and unexpected. I can only hope to see more of their relationship development in future books to come.

In The Rose and the Thorn we are introduce to new characters (not new for fans of The Riyria Revelations) like Viscount Albert Winslow, Reuben Hilfred, Princess Arista, and Prince Alric of Melengar among others. From them I have to talk about Hilfred. I loved him in The Riyria Revelations and loved him in this book. Seeing his origins and how he came to be Princess Arista bodyguard and protector was a bittersweet treat.

Another character I really liked was Viscount Albert Winslow, I liked that he was cunningly smart. He was given a chance and even though he might have not agreed with everything that happened, he knew that it was in a way necessary. His personality and behavior make of him the perfect intermediary for the Riyria.

The stories in The Riyria Chronicles are very character driven, but in The Rose and the Thorn Mr. Sullivan deeply develops the world building. In this installment Mr. Sullivan also submerges us in the political climate of the time and the region, thus getting us ready for what it is to come.
For fans of The Riyria Revelations it will be interesting to see how some of the incidents that took place in The Rose and the Thorn were the cataclysm of future events in the series.

Mr. Sullivan’s writing is fluid and flawless giving The Rose and the Thorn a perfect pace, one that I can guarantee you will have you glued to its pages from beginning to end.

If you love your books with unforgettable characters, with a plot with a perfect balance of drama, humor and mystery, and with a unique and vivid world building The Rose and the Thorn is for you.
If you are a fan of the fantasy genre this book and this series are a must read for you. You don’t need to have read The Riyria Revelations beforehand; you can even start with The Rose and the Thorn.
Mr. Sullivan is writing these books in a way that they can be read as stand-alones, but I recommend you to start with The Crown Tower and go from there. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. 

I don’t think I will ever get enough of Hadrian and Royce and saying I’m eagerly awaiting for next book in this series is the understatement of the year.

My Verdict: 5 Paws

Other books in the series
The Crown Tower
The Viscount and the Witch (Novella)
The Rose and the Thorn (September 17th)

Other reviews Goodreads

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