The Emerald Storm
Michael J Sullivan
Ridan Publishing, 2010
I made a valiant attempt to read a pdf ARC of The Emerald Storm on my nook and failed utterly. This is no fault of Mr. Sullivan’s but the problem with reading pdfs on ereaders (i.e. painful). Thankfully the published version of the novel was available from bn.com for the nook. Previous volumes in the Riyria Revelations have hinted at events to come and The Emerald Storm continues that trend offering another glimpse and a dark promise the dangerous water lay ahead. The Emerald Storm sees Hadrian and Royce taking one more mission, despite Royce’s protestations that he is retired, tracking down the ship with the titular name and attempting for ferret out what possible interest the Imperials have on distant shores. The Emerald Storm also introduces readers to the Moriarty to Royce’s Sherlock in the form of a former friend turned enemy named Merrick. I love the addition of Merrick as a sort of anti-Royce, a Royce without Hadrian as a sort-of moral high watermark to compare himself with, and while we don’t see him too often in The Emerald Storm his presence is keenly felt on just about every page.
Much like in previous volumes The Emerald Storm moves a bit away from the standalone quality of the first two books. While I still think a reader unfamiliar could read and enjoy The Emerald Storm its plot is predicated on, and references, the previous adventures that I think a familiarity with the first three novels is important if not downright essential to getting everything you possibly can out of this book. I was also disappointed with the ending of the novel. Not necessarily the way things played out but with the abruptness with which the novel came to a close. While there are two deliberate climaxes in the novel for the two main narratives that run over the course of the novel both end in ways that left each feeling somewhat unresolved. In truth I’m not certain if this is a weakness of The Emerald Storm or a manifestation of my own involvement with the characters and concern for what is coming in future volumes.
Sullivan does a particularly good job about making you care about character’s new and old. In particular the young officer aboard The Emerald Storm, Wesley, was a character who at first seemed to be the stereotypical spoiled noble but over the course of the novel is slowly revealed to have far greater depth. On the other hand characters like Thranic, who is something of an over-the-top villain type, appear a bit cliched at first but tend to have a bit more going on beneath the surface. I continue to be a staunch fan of the Princess Arista of Melengar. Sure she is, on the one hand, every inch the stereoptypical spoiled princess but on the other there is a certain amount of purity and innocence to her character that makes her somewhat endearing. As revealed in Nyphron Rising she may have been sheltered but that doesn’t mean she is unwilling to confront the realities of the world head first. This aspect of her character continues, for better or for ill, in The Emerald Storm.
While the most recent entries in the Riyria Revelations have yet to top Avempartha in my eyes (magic swords, mysterious towers, and evil magical monsters terrorizing the common folk sort of tickle all the right places for me) but each new entry has show greater depths of characterization and plotting. They continue to touch upon familiar tropes of the sword and sorcery genre while managing to infuse an originality and vitality to the proceedings that is nigh impossible to ignore. They are also, and this is perhaps the most unfortunate thing, growing ever closer to a conclusion. Wintertide, now available, is the penultimate volume, with the final book do sometime in 2011. Really folks, you should be reading this series.