Wednesday, June 22, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan

Hurray! Hadrian and Royce are back in the third novel of the Riyria Chronicles, the prequels to the Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan. I’ve been waiting a long time for this, as well as Sullivan’s next fantasy epic, The Age of Myth.

The Death of Dulgath picks up three years after The Rose and the Thorn. Hadrian and Royce, criminals for hire, are making a living, more or less, in their chosen field. Partners in crime, they rely on their friend Viscount Albert Winslow to scare up lucrative jobs that keep them from petty thievery. This newest assignment is unusual to say the least.

The Earl of Dulgath, one of the oldest noble families in Avryn, has died, leaving only a daughter to inherit. Someone is trying to kill her. A skilled assassin, Royce is hired not to kill Lady Dulgath but to inform her protectors how he would do it if it was his job. They want to use the information to help guard their charge.

The money is promising, so Royce and Hadrian set off for a far-off corner of the empire, ostensibly to save an innocent woman’s life.

Of course, things are more complicated than they seem. While engaging in their typical banter, exasperating one another as their friendship continues to grow, Royce and Hadrian meet the lady in trouble as well as an old acquaintance of Royce’s from his criminal guild days, a feisty female performer named Scarlett Dodge. Hadrian is impressed. Scarlett is even more determined to protect the lady than they are. Strangely, Lady Dulgath is unconcerned with the assassination attempts. She seems more interested in Royce.

Who is Lady Dulgath? And how does she know so much about the stranger who is NOT supposed to kill her?

Naturally, danger surrounds the heroes as they sort out who is behind the assassination attempts. It’s no great mystery, but the bad guys still have to be thwarted. The assignment is more difficult than Royce and Hadrian expected.

Like the other Riyria books, The Death of Dulgath is wonderfully entertaining. It isn’t as complex or thrilling as the first three (Revelations), but, like the other prequels (Chronicles), it fills in backstory in this fascinating world. And watching the relationship develop between Royce and Hadrian never grows old.

This series is highly recommended, and I can’t wait to start The Age of Myth.