The Age of Myth is the first book in a new fantasy series by Michael J. Sullivan. The first in a pentalogy that reaches back some three thousand years before his other series, The Riyria Chronicles and The Riyria Revelations, separate from them, but of a piece. It begins with a confrontation between two men and a god. Raithe, one of the heroes of the series is hunting with his father in forbidden territory when a god and his servants discover them. Belligerence meets belligerence and before you know it, Raithe’s father and the god are dead and Raithe has a new companion, one of the servants who is named Malcolm.
Meanwhile, off in Dahl Rhen, a village of other Rhunes (the people who are not gods) like Raithe, one of our heroines learns she has been widowed, her husband struck down by Grin the Brown, an infamous bear with a taste for humans. Because she and her husband have no children, a new chieftain is chosen by combat and she is displaced. A young woman, a mystic named Suri comes to the village and warns them of coming dangers, but the new chieftain is indecisive and fatalistic, almost resigned to defeat before there is even a contest. It is immediately evident who has the capacity for leadership and who does not.
The gods, the Fhrey must avenge the murder of their own and begin to seek The God-Killer Raithe who finds refuge with the people of Dahl Rhen. Clearly a confrontation between the Fhrey and the Rhune may be at hand, but there is also an internecine conflict within the Fhrey, between those who have mastered The Arts of magic and the others .The Fhrey have organized their tribes by craft and this has led to the debasement of one tribe in particular, the Instarya who are the warriors, and the elevation of another, the Miralyith, the ones who practice The Arts.
I enjoyed The Age of Myth quite a bit and am looking forward to reading the next four in the series. Thankfully for readers, Sullivan writes in entire series before beginning to publish even the first one, so fans of his books will not have to have the patience of those who are infamously waiting for the next of George R. R. Martin’s books and if they are ever made into movies or an HBO series the producers won’t have to invent new story lines ahead of the author. I am sure there will never be an HBO series, however, as there is no explicit sex and no women are raped.
In fact, the women, young and old, of The Age of Myth are people who save the day, who wield power and magic with wisdom and skill. They are not victims and the objectification and subjugation of women have no role in the book. This makes it a winner with me even before we get to it being a fast-paced, fun read with plenty of excitement, more than a dash of double-dealing and conspiracies and plots within plots. There is a battle between two masters of the The Art which is incredibly creative in finding ways people can fight with magic. No bright lights of elemental force are shooting back and forth between two magicians who are talking to the hand.
There is also great humor, particularly in the friendship between Malcolm and Raithe. A favorite example is when Malcolm gets a spear of his own and decides to name it Narsirabad, a Fhrey word. Raithe asks what it means, and Malcolm answers, “Pointy.” Stuff like that is pure gold in an adventure story. When they take themselves to seriously, when there are no elements of camp, I find fantasy unbearably bleak. In The Age of Myth which is leading to us toward a world war of genocidal dimension, it is dire, it is dangerous, but it is not bleak.
You do not need to read either of the other series to enjoy The Age of Myth. This book was my introduction to Michael J. Sullivan and I thoroughly enjoyed it and it only makes me want to read the rest of his books.
The Age of Myth will be released on June 28th. I was provided an advance e-galley by the publisher through NetGalley.