Book Review: The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Death of Dulgath (The Riyria Chronicles #3) by Michael J. Sullivan

Four Stars out of Five

(Revised on second reading: June 13, 2016)

“We are more than the bodies we inhabit. They’re little more than clothes, and yet we judge so much by them.”

An important, perhaps essential, addition to the Riyria corpus, Death takes us back to the days before The Revelations for a fill-in-the-blanks tale about the odd couple partnership of Royce and Hadrian. Be warned: each of them is slightly different at the opening of this story than you encounter in the Revelations. Not your typical swords-and-sorcery novel.

“What good is … living if generosity and kindness are myths?”

Sullivan introduces two strong women characters who add depth to the story and the necessary corrective to Royce and Hadrian’s usual aura of invincibility. The faithful reader of Riyria stories will have found several other capable female presentations; not typical for this genre.

“Many important events in history occurred in less-than-ideal fashion but were corrected in recollection.”

Sullivan’s stories do not exist in a vacuum. Each is tied to those before and after by personal, cultural and historical references. Death especially shows its roots in the mythical past. (Trust me. I recently had the honor of being a beta reader for the forthcoming The Age of Myths.)

“The moment anyone made plans, the world changed, apparently out of spite.”

A multi-threaded, if simple plot. What could go wrong? Pretty much everything. Sullivan misdirects the reader with the best of them. Minor characters meet gruesome ends, change habits and even become major characters. The artist and would-be-earl are especially well drawn. Royce and Hadrian face new, deadly tasks; each must confront challenges to his view of reality. Good job.

“She hasn’t taken anything. She’s given me something I’ve never had, and now I can’t live without it.”

Minor typos here and there, reflecting the rush with which the book was written. See Behind the Book for the reason why and how Sullivan wrote a novel in about sixty days.

“Everybody believes in something.”

(This review based on the ARC provided to Kickstarter supporters.)