Pros: Fascinating world-building; good characters
Cons: Some blatant unanswered questions
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In Michael J. Sullivan’s Age of Myth: Book One of The Legends of the First Empire, Raithe’s father Herkimer is slain by one of the Fhrey, who are thought to be gods. One of that god’s slaves, Malcolm, hit him over the head with a rock, and Raithe killed him and took his sword. This sets them both on the run. Persephone was the wife of Reglan, the chief of a village (who just got killed by a huge bear–her only living son met the same fate). Persephone is forced out of any position of influence by the new chief and his wife, although some still look to her for advice. Raithe and Malcolm end up in Persephone’s village, as does Suri, a young girl who is also some sort of mystic. While not all Fhrey have god-like abilities, some do. And the rest are much better-armed and -trained than the non-Fhrey living in their tribes and villages. It’s inevitable that someone will come seeking the death of the man now known as the ‘God-killer’. Persephone and Raithe work together to protect the village from the oncoming danger.
Arion comes to the village to find out what’s going on. She’s a master of the Fhrey “Art”–i.e., the ability that makes most people think of them as gods. She’s also 2,000 years old. At first the village is terrified of her, especially since a handful of Fhrey (not ones with the Art) have joined up with the villagers for their own reasons. Gradually we find out more and more about all of these people. The characters in the book are well-drawn, with plenty of conflict, regret, fear, and rage. The ultimate bad guy is a bit stereotypical except in appearance, which I thought gave him at least a little bit of originality.
There’s a character called Trilos. He only shows up a couple of times and only in context in the land of the Fhrey. His sole purpose seems to be to figure out how to open a door that cannot be opened. I assume that’s meant as fodder for the next book. It would have nice to know at least a little more about that, though.
The pacing is good, and I didn’t feel as though any character relationships were artificial in any way. There are three types of people involved, and watching them be wary and confused about how they fit together was great. Several interesting secrets pop out along the way, drawing people both closer together and farther apart, depending on the relationship and context.
Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: June 28, 2016