Review: Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

About the Book

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan • Published November 23, 2011 by Orbit • Paperback • 649 pages • Fantasy • Book 1 & 2 in The Riyria Revelations 


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.


I tend to avoid epic fantasy novels over 500 pages because sometimes the writing style is too dense and the story is longer than it should’ve been. That wasn’t the case with this book. Theft of Swords is a bind up of the first two books in The Riyria Revelations. It follows a pair of thieves-for-hire, Royce and Hadrian, as they uncover conspiracy plots, ancient mysteries, and perfectly blends magic, humor, twists, and epic battles. The first book, The Crown Conspiracy feels like an appetizer to a three-course meal, while the second book – Avempartha – feels like the entree. The second book is where all the action and most of the adventure happens. The characters, the plot, and the world are broaden and the plot in the second book hints at a more complex story.

What I loved most about Theft of Swords were the two main characters. Hadrian is a swordsman, idealistic, and caring while Royce is the master thief, sarcastic, and the brooding type. This contrast balances out the plot and led to hilarious dialogue between the two. I absolutely their banter and the way they played off each other. The back and forth between them made Theft of Swords much more entertaining. Plus, Sullivan reveals just enough about the characters to keep you guessing about their backgrounds.

I enjoyed the writing in Theft of Swords. This book employs typical fantasy tropes without the dark and gritty content. I appreciated Sullivan’s light and fun approach to this story because otherwise it would’ve felt like a chore to get through this. Similar to other epic fantasy novels, Theft of Swords is filled with side characters and the world-building is pretty detailed. However, the prose is simple and the humor makes it easy to keep up with the characters and the plot. The plot twists were predictable; however, the journey there was enjoyable. The battle scenes are still epic and quite a rollercoaster.

My only critique of Theft of Swords is that there wasn’t enough of the main characters. There are a lot of side characters and side plots in this book. Eventually, everything comes together; however, I would’ve liked to see the duo in action a bit more. We know of their legend, but we don’t really get to see them in action until towards the end. It would’ve been difficult to do, but I think some internal dialogue for the characters may have helped.

I enjoyed Theft of Swords. The characters were interesting, the plot was entertaining, and the writing was simple enough to keep me engaged in the world and the story. Even though I easily guessed the twists, the journey there was fun. I have so many theories about the characters and I can’t wait to dive into the next volume in this series.

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re in the mood for light adult fantasy with fun characters and an easy plot and world-building, you’ll enjoy this.

Have you read Theft of Swords? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

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5 thoughts on “Review: Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

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