Riyria revelations # 1-2. Author: Michael J. Sullivan.
THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.
There’s no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just unlikely heroes and classic adventure. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are two enterprising rogues who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the murder of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it’s too late. (Summary from Goodreads.)
Theft of Swords is set in a very comfortable, familiar fantasy setting. Castles and kings, elves and dwarves; there’s little dramatic worldbuilding here. At first I was turned off, both by this and the simple, plain prose. However, the story starts almost immediately, and continues at a smooth, swift pace. Compelling characters and the dynamics between them keep the reader hooked as this adventure story unfolds, and from the unsolved secrets and hints I suspect continuing books will have an even more twisty story line.
Sexual content: Girl is accused of “having a secret affair” with a commoner. “…The thought of forcing her to his bed gave him more than a little pleasure.” Barmaids are dressed in ‘tattered gowns with plunging necklines’. Some kissing. A woman is described as an immigrant who survived as a prostitute, worked her way up, and is now a business owner in various things, chief among which is a brothel she runs. A man is challenged to a duel for staring too long at another man’s beautiful wife. Man wakes up beside a maid, his thoughts make it clear but not explicit that they engaged in sexual intercourse. The legends of the gods and how they came to be involve one of them raping his own daughter while drunk (stories are only summarized in a few lines). Girl wakes up to man robbing and then trying to rape her, but he is driven off.
Language: 23 d***, 12 derogatory names, 4 uses of ‘God’, 3 bloody, 2 scatological terms.
Violence: Characters find a body with a knife in the back. One character backhands another to the face Character is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head. A survivor tells of being locked up with comrades in a building which was then set on fire, intended to kill them all. Character is kicked in the stomach. Several men stabbed and killed off-screen. Two men knocked unconscious. Knights charge in a battle, but pov character watches from some distance; then there is a brief pov from a soldier in the thick of it who soon dies. Characters hear the screams of others being taken by a predator. Girl falls off a horse and is knocked unconscious. Men are burned alive in dragon flame.