Book Review: Age of Empyre by Michael J. Sullivan (Four Stars)


Book Review: Age of Empyre (The Legends of the First Empire #6) by Michael J. Sullivan

(Four Stars)

“That’s what stories are for, Brin realized. They are magic that aid people in times like this. They provide hope, a light to see by when all others are snuffed out.”

Appropriately complex and satisfying close for this six-volume epic fantasy. Concludes a visit to the underworlds begun in previous books and has a big climax, but leaves enough loose ends that the reader understands that history has not ended. In fact, contrary to Sullivan’s normal practice, it’s not what everyone would call a happy ending, but one that makes sense in this context: nobody is completely successful or happy. Life goes on.

“With the world as his mother, the sky his father, and immortality granted from Alurya’s gift, he might be the only true god. Unfortunately, he’s the god of evil.”

Unlike most modern speculative fiction, Legends hews to the ancient view of gods, as immortals with all the human shortcomings. Often their own worst enemies.

“Our spirits are crushed by our regrets, our hate, our guilt. We’re like people who dived to the bottom of a lake by holding heavy rocks. To get out, all we need to do is drop the rocks.”

Still a bit rough, as befits this “omega” draft. Many minor typographical errors. Presumably, the published version will be cleaned up. Even with that said, the story had several huge plot holes. Not the soul-crushing nihilism of much modern fantasy, but a realistic, sometimes sad appraisal that even legendary times are a mixed bag of good and evil, joy and sorrow, and the goal you finally achieve may not have been worth it.

“Her world had grown, and her adventures were bigger by far, but somehow less grand. Everything was that way: duller, grayer, smaller. She had gained the power of magic, but this had only served to render the world less enchanting.”