The Crown Conspiriacy (2011) by Micheal J. Sullivan

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The Crown Conspiracy centres on two lovable rogues, Royce and Hadrian, as they are framed for Regicide and fight to clear their names and stop the next king from falling to the same fate. It is a robust re-imagining of standard fantasy tropes like elves and dwarves and thieves and knights which will catch your attention and draw you in. The Crown Conspiracy is the first book in a six part series called the Riyria Revelations. The publisher has marketed the books as containing mysteries which are hinted at in the first book and not revealed until the last, as if this is something special, rather than what fantasy readers expect and require from a good fantasy series. But one can hardly judge a book by its marketing campaign…  I mean, they even published it in 3 books instead of 6. How is less books a good marketing idea? A Song of Ice and Fire has been split into even more books, presumably for more money, so I don’t understand.

Royce is a master thief, nimble and agile with a flair for ‘doing the right thing’ that is sure to cause trouble. Hadrian is a master swordsman who can and will best anyone with any weapon at hand. The pair make up a formidable team for hire, and are freelancers, unconnected to any of the major thieves guilds, calling themselves Riyria. Their willingness to take basically any job which pays well is part of the reason that they are framed and as such the pair make for lovable protagonists.

The first few chapters were hard to get into. The characters seemed forced and the situations silly. This feeling passes after the first theft and the rest of the book was a breeze. The start is always the hardest and Sullivan manages to drag the story back into a readable shape after the frankly trite and wooden beginning. With a little character development and a lot of witty banter the book starts to take shape.

Many fantasy novels let you know who the bad guy is from the start and they are seen as the goal to be fought towards. The Crown Conspiracy is more of a mystery novel set in a fantasy world. The thieves don’t know who framed them but they are going to find out. It is a well conceived twist with implications sure to echo through the entire series.

All told I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

4 stars

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