Book Review – The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan

Author – Laura

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Two men who hate each other.  One impossible mission. A legend in the making.

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 Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

This book was recommended to me by my lovely Dad, who is an avid fan of all things sword and sorcery. The Crown Tower is actually part of a prequel series to the Riyria Revelations trilogy, telling the story of how the main characters, Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn, met and became partners. I haven’t read Revelations, but my Dad said to start with The Crown Tower as reading them in chronological order might make more sense to a Riyria noob. Of course, if you want to read them in order of publication by all means read the trilogy first. It won’t detract from the story, if anything I imagine you might even get more out of it than someone who hasn’t read it.

The first part of the story is focused on Hadrian, who has spent the last few years as a mercenary, killing for money. In an effort to leave his past behind him he sets off on an eventful journey to meet a family friend, who has some things that have been left to him following the death of his father. Hadrian isn’t very good at making friends, which makes for a few fun and games on the way.

We don’t meet Royce until later, when the friend, a professor at a school for the gifted, sends the two on a mission to steal something important. They have to work together, but the instant mutual loathing is a bit of a hurdle. Unfortunately for them, the only way to survive the job is by learning to trust each other. Which, of course, is easier said than done…

Alongside their story we also meet Gwen DeLancy, a whore who refuses to let herself and other girls be used and abused by the tavern owner or their customers. I imagine Gwen has an important role to play in future books.

There is plenty of action in The Crown Tower, and I immediately liked both Hadrian and Royce. I think that’s largely thanks to the brilliant writing. Alongside the fast paced action and beautiful descriptions of the world, I found this book unexpectedly funny. The humour is dry and sarcastic, and I loved the banter between the main characters. It isn’t written like a prequel, and there doesn’t seem to be any assumption about what the reader already may or may not know. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series – The Rose and the Thorn.

Although its more sword than sorcery (I imagine that changes as the story goes on) The Crown Tower is a great introduction into both Fantasy fiction and the world of Riyria, and perfect for Young Adults and their *ahem* slightly older counterparts as well!

My rating – 4/5

Check out The Crown Tower on Goodreads

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