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Michael J. Sullivan

Michael J. Sullivan(1961- )
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Michael J. Sullivan has lived in Vermont, North Carolina, and Virginia. He worked as a commercial artist and illustrator, founding his own advertising agency in 1996, which he closed in 2005 to pursue writing full-time. The Crown Conspiracy is his first published work. Michael currently resides in Fairfax, Virginia, with his wife and three children. Learn more at Michael J. Sullivan’s website.


Michael J. Sullivan: Hooked into reading

Today we welcome Michael J. Sullivan who's here to talk about how he became a reader. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of his latest book The Crown Tower which I reviewed earlier this week. It's a prequel to his popular RIYRIA books, so it's the perfect book for both new readers and established fans. (We can send to U.S. addresses only.)

It’s probably not something that an author should admit but I wasn’t a “big reader” when young. In fact, I hated to read. My first “chapter book” was Big Red and I struggled for over two months to get through its 250 pages.

So what changed? My brother started reading THE LORD OF THE RINGS. He was so excited by the what he had read that he used to come in and wake me in th... Read More

Theft of Swords: Juicy

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

The first thing you should know about Theft of Swords is that it’s not a fine dining experience. This book is not the literary equivalent of going to a fancy restaurant and getting one of those huge plates that are mostly empty except for a tiny stalk of asparagus artfully drizzled with a delicate sauce. Instead, it’s more like sitting down hungry and getting a big, tasty burger you can just grab and sink your teeth into. (Vegetarians, please substitute for the vegetarian equivalent of a big, tasty burger. I’ve been trying to think of one, and I can’t. A veggie burger just doesn’t feel the same.) In other words, this book is straightforward. It’s huge. It’s low on subtlety but high on enjoyment. It is (and I fully realize this is not proper Literary Theory terminology) juicy. At this point I think I’ve stretched the food metaphor about as far as it’s goin... Read More

Rise of Empire: Straight-up action/adventure done fantasy style

Editor's note: Rise of Empire was originally published as Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm.

Rise of Empire by Michael Sullivan

Nyphron Rising: Now that the Imperialists have a puppet for their throne, the war for conquest has begun. Knowing that Melengar cannot stand against the Imperialists’ might, Princess Arista employs Royce and Hadrian to escort her on a self-imposed mission. While working for the princess, Royce has his own agenda: to secretly investigate Hadrian’s past to determine if what the wizard Esrahaddon has told him about his friend is true. This secret has the potential to topple the powers of Elan.

Nyphron Rising, the third book in THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS, is another consistently entertaining installment. Some interesting n... Read More

Heir of Novron: Just a plain ol’ fashioned good time

Editor's note: Heir of Novron was originally published as Wintertide and Percepliquis.

Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan

 is the next to last book in THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS series. As with the rest of these books, this is a fairly self-contained story, but at the same time the reader can feel the momentum building toward an explosive conclusion. Hadrian is forced into a deadly deal to kill an honorable knight by making it look accidental in a tournament, while Royce is desperate to be done with Riyria’s contracts so that he can try his hand at domesticated bliss with his true love.

Wintertide is my favorite book in the series so far, which is as a series should be: each installment a little better than the ... Read More

The Crown Tower: Fast-paced sword-wielding fun

The Crown Tower by Michael J Sullivan

The Crown Tower is the first book in Michael J. Sullivan’s RIYRIA CHRONICLES series. This series starts before the existing novels, THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS, and it lets us see how Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn first meet.

Since I haven’t read any of Sullivan’s other books, in a way I was the perfect reader for this one. I didn’t have expectations. The Crown Tower is full of fast-paced sword-wielding fun from the first chapter. Sullivan’s breezy style moves the book along quickly. The characters are drawn well enough to hold the reader’s interest and make the conflicts believable. Royce and Hadrian, in particular, are so different that it is hard to see how they will ever be able to work together, which is exactly Sullivan’s point.

Hadrian Blackwater is a mercenary soldier, coming home after many years of fighting pointless... Read More

The Rose and the Thorn: Do not get on Royce Melborn’s bad side

The Rose and the Thorn by Michael J. Sullivan

The Rose and the Thorn is the second book in Michael J. Sullivan’s RIYRIA CHRONICLES. Sullivan continues to share “the early years” of Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn.

The Rose and the Thorn takes place about one year after the events in The Crown Tower. The book opens, not with our two wandering thieves-for-hire, but with Reuben Hilfred. Reuben is soon to be made one of the royal guards in King Amrath, King of Melengar’s service, and is the son of a guard, but right now he is little more than a stable boy, the target of bullying by a group of young squires. Reuben’s life is sad. His parents were not married, and his mother committed suicide, throwing herself from a tower in the castle. His father, embittered by her death, is a hard drinker and takes his temper out on Reuben. Rueben is good with an axe but not so good with a sword, an... Read More

Hollow World: Exploring humanity with an Everyman

Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan

As soon as I heard about Hollow World I jumped on the bandwagon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love it when authors take a left turn and tries something absolutely new and different. Michael J. Sullivan is known for his epic fantasy, so a time travel/futuristic sci-fi is absolutely different than his usual work. He had my attention.

The thing is, despite the fact that this is an absolutely different genre than Sullivan fans will expect, there are still some qualities here that are owned by the author. For example, Sullivan excels at telling an action-packed story set in a huge world that is slowly expanded upon in the periphery of the story. Also, he does a great job at developing characters you can really cling to. And all of that is evident in H... Read More

Age of Myth: Well-wrought prequel to the RIYRIA fantasy series


Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

With Age of Myth, Michael J. Sullivan begins a prequel series to his RIYRIA CHRONICLES and RIYRIA REVELATIONS series. The good news for newcomers to his books is that, since this series takes place about 3,000 years earlier, you don't need to be familiar with either of those series or the world of Elan to enjoy this new LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE series, so I was in good shape. I know pretty much zero about the other Riyria books, except that many epic fantasy fans are very enthusiastic about them, but I really enjoyed Age of Myth and am anxious to start the next book in this series, Age of Swords, which will be published July 25, 2017. Read More

Age of Swords: Compelling novel with strong characters

Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Storm clouds have been gathering since the events of Age of Myth, the first book in Michael J. Sullivan‘s new epic fantasy series, LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE. The Fhrey (elves) have been feeling threatened by the Rhunes (humans) ever since the Rhunes shifted from a nomadic lifestyle to a more settled one, with crops and flocks of animals as well as hunting. Their population started exploding, and the Rhunes now outnumber the long-lived Fhrey by a factor of twenty to one (one million Rhunes vs. fifty thousand Fhrey). The killing of two Fhrey by Raithe, a Rhune warrior, provided the final impetus for a Fhrey attack.

As Age of Swords (2017) begins, a few months after the... Read More

Age of War: Trudging to battle


Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan

We (Tadiana and Marion) have both been reading THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE series. Here, we take a few minutes to discuss the third book, Age of War. Tadiana: All the resentments, cruelties, conspiracies and ambitions that have been simmering since Age of Myth (and even before) boil over and explode in Age of War (2018), the third book in Michael J. Sullivan‘s LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE series, a prequel series to both his RIYRIA CHRONICLES and RIYRIA REVELATIONS series. *Some spoilers for the first two books in this series follow* The Rhune (humans), finally unified (mor... Read More

SHORTS: Yap, Howey, Livingston, Sullivan, Smith, Tarr

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. We'll put our favorites at the top.

The Oiran's Song" by Isabel Yap (2015, free at Uncanny Magazine)

"The Oiran's Song" is the tale of a young man who is sold into service with a traveling group of Japanese soldiers; this is a better fate than what befell his younger brother. It's also the tale of a young woman who entertains soldiers through various methods, traveling with them for as long as her services are required. It's also about human cruelty and kindness. It's about oni and snow and blood and vengeance and the fragility of hope. The brutality of war and human depravity are ever-present, but Yap never victimizes her characters: the terrible things which happen to ... Read More

SHORTS: Howey, Yeh, Bolander, Ford, Sullivan, Smith

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we've recently read that we wanted you to know about.

“Peace in Amber” by Hugh Howey (2014, $1.99 Kindle, $3.95 Audible)

“Peace in Amber” is Hugh Howey’s tribute to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, a surrealistic novel in which Vonnegut explores his personal memories of the bombing of Dresden. Like Slaughterhouse-Five, “Peace in Amber” is also a personal reflection: Hugh Howey’s experiences on September 11, 2001, when he witnessed the collapse of the World Trade Center from the deck of the yacht he was captaining.

Like Vonnegut’... Read More

SHORTS: Sanford, Palwick, Walton, Hill, Sullivan, Kemp

Here are a few shorter SFF works that we read this week that we wanted you to know about. Some great finds this week!

Blood Grains Speak Through Memories by Jason Sanford (March 2016, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, free ebook available on the author’s website)

Frere-Jones Roeder is the anchor of her land, charged with its protection and maintenance. The blood grains flow through her body, sharing memories of past anchors and giving her senses knowledge of all of the life and activity on her two-league plot of land, whether plant, animal or human. The blood grains are also part of all life on her land, and even fly through the air in the form of ... Read More