Advent Reviews Day 11: The Viscount and The Witch by Michael J. Sullivan
Discovering authors through Twitter was the grand theme of this year, and last. Some of the best fiction I read this year was a result of that discovery and I’m really glad that things worked out so well, since most of these authors came highly recommended from bloggers I followed at the time, or their interactions on social media were always entertaining and professional and something I could learn from. Michael J. Sullivan is one such author and his Riyria Revelations novels are some of my favourite fantasy novels, because they are tales without the super-complex adventures that have become the norm in mainstream fantasy. Michael offers this prequel short story as a freebie to promote his books and it was my first taste of Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, two of the most charming rogues I’ve read about, period.
As I said, this is a prequel to Michael’s six-novel Riyria Chronicles series, and it is pretty much one of the earliest adventures of Royce and Hadrian as a team, and their first encounter with Viscount Winslow, who later becomes their agent and broker. At a little over 5,000 words, The Viscount and The Witch is one of the shortest short stories I’ve read, but is still one of the most engaging and fun. The story is what I would call “typical Michael J. Sullivan” in that it has the same level of casualness as his novels. It is about a simple chance encounter and some team-building between the characters, with a really funny and unexpected twist at the end. As with his novels, the chemistry between Hadrian and Royce is excellent. Michael definitely knows these two in and out, and he builds a great sense of atmosphere with their dialogue, which is often humorous and flippant/tongue-in-cheek.
When I was done with the short story, I was very much excited about reading the novels themselves, and in that, The Viscount and The Witch served as an excellent teaser. I wanted to find out more about these characters, and what made them tick. The novels are set quite a few years after the short story, when Royce and Hadrian have established themselves as the highly capable thieving duo named Riyria, so there is a bit of disconnect between the novels and the short story, but that doesn’t work against either of them. That’s the thing with prequels: they should have distance between them and the “original material”, and that’s part of their charm, at least for me.
In short, go get this short story from Michael’s website, and then go buy his novels. They are all excellent. As it so happens, I recommended the novels to four friends this year, and they all loved it. That’s some kind of a record for me, I’m sure!
My reviews of Riyria Revelations:
To my utter delight, there will be prequel novels coming out next year from Michael:
- Riyria Chronicles: The Crown Tower
- Riyria Chronicles: Rose and Thorn (TBD)
Posted on December 11, 2012, in 2012 Reading Challenge, 2012 Writing Challenge, Book Reviews, Self-publishing and tagged Advent Reviews, Free Fiction, Hadrian Blackwater, Michael J. Sullivan, Riyria Revelations, Royce Melborn, Self-published, Short story, The Viscount and The Witch. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.