Cover Image: Nolyn


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I'm a big Michael Sullivan fan so I was very excited to read the first instalment of the Rise and Fall series and it did not disappoint! I loved the time jump while having a few subtle nods to the Legend of the First Empire. The story and all characters were all engaging and I loved the twist at the end! Sullivan is a master storyteller and worldbuilder and his stories always seem fresh and unique. I can wait for the next book to come out and would definitely recommend it!
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A really interesting read, I think this will be great for fans of the Goblin Emperor and people looking for a pseudo-historical, more serious fantasy read.
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Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for providing an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Before going into this, I was not aware that Nolyn is set in the Riyria universe. I was delighted to realize that despite having not read the Riyria series, I never felt lost in this story. Sullivan did a great job of including references to the events of the older series as well as of providing plenty of information and world-building for readers completely new to the world.

Sullivan has a flair for world-building and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this world. Nolyn is a great character, but I felt that the other characters were not as developed.

More importantly, the perspectives of the antagonists really reduced the sense of mystery and tension from the story as most of the answers were revealed from the antagonist's POV before Nolyn even came across them.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I would definitely like to continue the series for the worldbuilding alone but I really do hope the next instalment has more mystery.

Overall rating: 3/5 stars
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Book review - Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan - 4⭐⭐⭐⭐

I received an e-arc in return for an honest review.

Nolyn is an adrenaline filled ride through one of the most accessible epic fantasy worlds ever written. Expect humans🧔, elves🧝‍♂️, goblins🧟‍♂️ and a whole lot of epic fights⚔ and shadowy👥 manipulations.

For those of you that don't know this yet, Michael J. Sullivan is one of the most accessible epic fantasy writers ever. His writing style is very energetic, filled with a lot of humor and amazing action.🙌

Nolyn on its own is a brilliant tale of two halve elves, the titular Nolyn and Sephryn, who struggeling with their place in a world filled with humans and elves. Nolyn himself is a wonderful character. The crown prince of the empire leads a mismatched band of humans on a quest to secure a better future for humanity. On the other hand we have Sephryn who gets pulled into a shadowy heist, stealing from the emperor🤴🏻📯. Their long lifespan present a wonderful view of a human society.

In the larger series of books set in the world of Elan, Nolyn serves as a snapshot of an important historical event that changes the world from The First Empire to the world of the Riyria Chronicles. This is a pro because there is no commitment to another long series, but as a standalone book without reading The First Empire books first the book is not very strong. Hence the four stars instead of five.😊

All in all Nolyn is enjoyable and a must read for fans of Sullivans world of Elan.

A major thanks to Grim Oak and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC!
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This book was so damn much fun.
Clever story telling
and wonderful world building.
I loved this book.
Epic fantasy on a scale 
hardly seen these days.
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Thanks to Netgalley for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review :)

Firstly I want to mention that I have never read any book in the Ellan Universe or any book written by Michael J. Sullivan. I have been wanting to get into his books but felt intimidated by the long series and wasn't sure where to start. So, I was very excited when I saw that this is something I can try and could also enjoy as a standalone if I wanted to. 

The book follows Nolyn as heir to the empire; his assignment to rescue an outpost leads to a dead-end canyon deep inside enemy territory, and his suspicion turns to dread when he discovers the stronghold doesn't exist. Nolyn is an interesting character that gets to form a great friendship with a group of great warriors. Their friendship is so nicely portrait and I really like all of them. 

The other perspective is Sephryn - mother and daughter of War Legends. She is going through some very deep and horrible things. Her part is a little bit of a mystery compared with Nolyn's part. Her son is kidnaped and you follow in trying to get him back. She does a lot of questionable things and in a way I feel sorry for her at the end. 

My favourite part about this book has to be the world. Both Nolyn and Sephryn are half-elf, half-human and the politics and history of this world made me very curious for the other series by Sullivan. I will definitely go and read his Legends of the First Empire series!!! Second favourite were the side characters: Nolyn's new friends (Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron) and Arvis Dyer (she is just so precious and her chapters are just great, I was happy for her at the end - also the last page made me so incredibly happy for her... OMG!!). 

This book impressed me and even though I new nothing about this world before it captured me and I am happy I have read it! Now I can happily go and read more in this Universe. ^_^
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Looking forward to read more of Sullivan's books. I've heard so many good things with the other series he wrote. 

The story is great. Great read!
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absolutely enjoyed this book by Michael J. Sullivan ... once the story got going, i couldn't put it down!
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After more than five hundred years of exile, Nolyn, the heir to the empyre, is weary about his reassignment to duty on the Goblin War’s front lines. He needs to rescue an outpost, leading to a dead-end canyon deep inside enemy territory. Someone went to a great deal of trouble planning his death to look like a casualty of war. Lucky for Nolyn, he got assigned with the Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron, real legendary soldiers. They might just make it out alive.

We mostly see the story from the perspective of Nolyn, who’s the above-mentioned heir, and Sephryn. Both are children of legendary people (whose story took place in the First Empire series if I’m not mistaken).

While Nolyn has to fight off the ghazel and get out alive with his squadron, Sephryn remains in the capital trying to bring more equality between the Instarya and humans.

But things take a dark turn when she comes home one day to find her nursemaid murdered, her baby stolen, and a voice in her head commanding her to steal a certain artifact if she ever wants to see her son again.

I loved both their storylines a lot. Nolyn’s story gave some great action scenes. And the bonding between Nolyn and the squadron was a delight to read. I especially enjoyed the growing bond between the skeptical Amicus and Nolyn.

Sullivan also did a great job with the characterization. This all comes down to some nice details. For instance, Nolyn is terrible with names, so when we first meet the squadron, a lot of them have nicknames given by Nolyn before he can remember their actual names. I just really loved that little detail.

On the other hand, Sephryn’s story made the racial issues in the empyre clearer and gave me a thrilling mystery to solve. Who is that voice? What is their endgame?

I loved reading along and finding the clues and trying to figure out what it all meant. I wasn’t great at it, but perhaps if I’d read some of the other books (and would’ve known a bit more about the history of the world) I’d have gotten the answer sooner.

I also really loved Sephryn’s character—she lives to help other people. We can see this from the very beginning, where she’s basically the only one who’s nice to a woman who’s clearly somewhat crazy. And she would do anything for her son.

While there were a lot of things I loved about this book, I especially loved the ending. Everything came together so well, and I just couldn’t put the story down anymore. I had to know how everything would conclude. And that conclusion didn’t disappoint.

There were certainly some devastating parts of that conclusion, and it might be that not everyone will like how it ends. But I think it made sense, and it really gave that nice bittersweet feeling.

I could also easily go on about the worldbuilding, which was fantastic. All the cities, jungles, different races were detailed and wonderful to imagine. But there were also details on the magic and history of the world, without it being too much. That’s a great balance to achieve.

A final note: while Nolyn is part of a series, all the books in this series will tell the story of a legendary person that was mentioned in some of the other series from Sullivan. So these stories do read as if they were a standalone.

To conclude: if you love epic fantasy with great writing, a rich world, and compelling characters, read Nolyn.
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First of all, thank you to NetGalley and Michael J. Sullivan for the ARC!

Now, what can I say? Unlike most people I do not think this is a good entry point to Michael J Sullivan's world...

As I had not read any of his other books I felt a little lost at the beginning, but as I was loving Mr. Sullivan's writing I ended up buying The Riyria Revellations...And then Legends of the First Empire, both of which I deeply recommend, along with any of Mr.Sullivan's books!

However, I would recommend reading the book in order of their publications for the full experience!
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I missed a lot of the sarcasm and humor that I enjoyed while reading the Riyria series and now it's back! Legends of the First Empire was okay; however, Nolyn proves that this series, Rise and Fall,, are going to be FANTASIC!! Completely enjoyable banter between characters with well thought out world building made me fall in love with Michael J. Sullivan's writing, all over again. Nolyn is the first book in his newest series release and I cannot wait until the next comes get here. Well done, Mr. Sullivan!!
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Amazing cover art and great story. From start to finish I enjoyed every moment of it. The moment Nolyn, the main protagonist who is half human and half fhrey, decides to drop the truth bomb on his troops to save their live and sacrifice himself, I knew this would be any sci-fi and fantasy lovers next best read.
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(ARC received in exchange for honest review at

Michael J. Sullivan’s ‘Nolyn’ is the first entry in his new trilogy, ‘The Rise and Fall’. Set in the world of Elan, extensively developed by Sullivan across various series over the years, we’re introduced to Nolyn, accomplished soldier and son of the Emperor. As he assumes leadership of the esteemed Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron in a skirmish with the Ghazel, he’s soon lead to believe that his father didn’t intend for him to survive the encounter, and sets off on a journey to discover why he’s wanted out of the picture. Meanwhile, Sephrim has her own troubles in the capital city of Percepliquis. She finds herself impotent in her role as the Emperor’s liaison to the humans, her commitment to a more equal society largely ignored or actively undermined. When she returns home to find her friend murdered and her child stolen, a mysterious voice in her head commands she steal a precious artefact from the palace or lose her son forever. With Nolyn and Sephryn’s futures looking increasingly bleak, a shadowy figure from the distant past makes a play that threatens to change the world forever…

Let’s get this out of the way - this is my first foray into the Riyria Universe. Though I’ve heard great things over the years, Sullivan’s various Riyria series just never quite reached the top of my reading list. Regardless, ‘Nolyn’ is remarkably easy to approach as a newcomer, and I never felt like the characters and situations introduced needed those 20 books worth of context for me to understand and empathise with them. The world of Elan is standard fantasy fair given a new lick of paint - we have the Fhrey (Elves), the Ghazel (Goblins), the Dherg (Dwarves)and the Rhune (Humans). Alongside there’s the usual mix of swords, sorcery, politics, and war, and whilst this all sounds rather familiar, Sullivan does a great job of making the old feel new again. His writing is sharp and snappy, his pacing brisk and his characters endearing. Between our two primarily POV’s the story strikes a strange balance between gritty fantasy warfare, mystery and heist fiction. As a result, there’s something here for pretty much anybody to sink their teeth into. Where Sullivan excels is in his character work - Nolyn is fair and just, yet ultimately idealistic, and we feel his struggle to reconcile what’s right and what works as the narrative moves on. Similarly, Sephryn is laser-focused on bringing about political change to even the playing field amongst the races, but finds herself forced to act against her morals as her desperation to find her son peaks.

Both Nolyn and Sephryn are half-Fhrey, half-Rhune, which allows for an exploration of prejudice - while both are in positions of power, they’re never truly accepted by either the Fhrey or the Rhune, stuck in the middle and thus somewhat ostracised. Though this is never a focal point past the opening third, their heritage acts as a touchstone against the backdrop of general racial tensions between the downtrodden and resentful Rhune and the more privileged Fhrey, blessed with lives spanning millennia. Nolyn and Sephryn’s relationship feels a little convenient, especially considering that they appear to be the only two mixed-race characters in existence, but Sullivan keeps them separate for most of the story, mitigating this to a point. Once their stories fully intertwine back in the capital, we get to see some really tender dialogue between the pair - in fact, ‘Nolyn’ rarely misses with any of its more emotionally charged scenes. It’s slightly unfortunate then that certain segments of story weaken the book overall. For example, I found the drama surrounding the two legions Nolyn recruits to help overthrow his father slightly irritating. They’re far too quickly won over to Nolyn’s cause until Sullivan reveals they actually remain loyal to the Emperor, or his money, anyway. This would be fine if said legions didn’t later join the battle to aid Nolyn, despite his father’s untimely murder and their leader’s desires to ascend to the throne themselves being highlighted only pages before. This is quite confusing given the information we're given; Sullivan establishes these legion’s leaders as duplicitous and disloyal, yet when the very opportunity they’d hoped for presents itself to them, they act against their own best interests and support Nolyn’s ascension to the throne. Sure, Sullivan steps back from this a chapter later by including some talk on the likelihood of their continued scheming, but it comes across as to-ing and fro-ing for the sake of plot convenience. Thankfully, these issues don’t crop up often, and the story closes out satisfyingly, with most plot threads resolved and those that aren’t presumably poised to play a role in the sequel.

In conclusion, ‘Nolyn’ was a fantastic read from start to finish. As my first introduction to Sullivan’s work, ‘Nolyn’ did a great job establishing its world without losing me to a decade’s worth of assumed knowledge from previous titles. The story moves quickly, justified by the urgency of Nolyn and Sephryn’s situations, and though it struggles to justify some of the stranger decisions made by characters, namely those with motivations that seem to contradict their actions, our protagonists are nuanced and endearing throughout. Indeed, certain secondary characters stole scenes of their own, particularly the Teshlor, a group of Sik-Aux soldiers who possess Matrix-like precognition in combat. Sullivan undermines his plot once or twice by having huge decisions made far too quickly to feel believable, but the narrative still comes together well with the help of some masterful world-building and rich historical context. I highly recommend ‘Nolyn’ to anybody who who enjoys a typical fantasy set-up, witty dialogue and extensive lore. I’ll be diving into the rest of the Riyria Universe myself before too long!
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I had forgotten how much I liked this author. I went back and looked on Goodreads and realized that I read every single book in the Riyria Chronicles but for some reason, I only read the first book in The Legends series. Believe me, I will be rectifying that immediately.

This is the first book in a new series that is based in Elan - the same world as the two series mentioned above. Do you have to have already read either one to jump into this series? No. Well, at least I hadn't and it was not a problem for me. 

So, about the book. Let me say that it took me about 5 minutes to seriously like the character of  male MC Nolyn. He is a great character and the son of the current Emperor and a very unique kind of mixed breed. In other words, his mother was human. We also  get to meet a group of Legionnaires and a very special fighter that end up having interesting connections. Their dynamics was a dynamic addition to the story.

The POV alternates between Nolyn and Sevrin (another half human/half Fhrye) who has grown up with Nolyn. Because of the fact that they have human blood, they will not live as long as the other Fhrey (who live a couple of millenniums). The two of them are about 850 or so years old....(that's a heck of a lot of history) :)

Let me just say the world building was wonderful, the characters were very well developed and the story line was compelling. There were a couple of twists that I did not see coming and the story built to a wonderful climax. 

There is no doubt that I will be eager for the next book in this trilogy, which according to Mr. Sullivan will be coming out in June 2022.

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to this ARC. The opinions above are mine and mine alone.
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Bestselling author Michael J. Sullivan has just released the first book in his new trilogy, The Rise and Fall. Nolyn is set in the same world as Sullivan’s beloved Riyria novels and The Legends of the First Empire series. This novel takes place about 850 years after the end of the Legends series and 1000 years before Riyria. The Rise and Fall series will depict the formation and collapse of an empire over time, with each novel following a different main protagonist.  Grimdark Magazine received an ARC of Nolyn in exchange for an honest review. This review contains minor spoilers for The Legends of the First Empire.

“When the fate of the world is in your hands, gambling is an unaffordable luxury, and idealism is often burned on the altar of reality.”
NolynThough Sullivan states it is not necessary to read any of his other novels before Nolyn, a knowledge of the history of the empire and its power struggles adds vital context. With a dozen and counting published books set in the world, new readers may feel intimidated. Readers who know little of the world of Elan may be puzzled by repeated references to the Legends of the First Empire series. Reading Sullivan’s books in publication order offers the most gratifying reading experience.

The plot follows Nolyn—the only son of human Persephone and elf Nyphron —in the tumultuous events leading to Nolyn’s ascension from heir to emperor.  Nolyn, who has lived for centuries at odds with his militaristic father, has just been ordered to the front lines of the Goblin Wars in an assignment that is essentially a death sentence. Meanwhile, Nolyn’s childhood friend and love interest Sephyryn has been unsuccessfully trying to improve the lives of humans in the Empire for generations. The series of events that unfold following the kidnap of Sephyryn’s child near the beginning of the novel could have implications that derail the empire’s progress forever.

“Everyone has to pay, but heroes—I think they have a higher price than everyone else. And maybe they never erase their debts.”

A thought-provoking recurring theme in Sullivan’s novels is how myths and stories are born and manipulated, affecting civilizations for generations. Because many of Sullivan’s characters are long-lived, they witness firsthand how history can be blurred by bias, myth, and memory. Readers witness how Nolyn’s father, Emperor Nyphron, has molded history and myth to shape his elf-first vision of the empire. The Riyria novels set hundreds of years later display a future when even Nyphron’s story has been rewritten into something unrecognizable.

Nolyn will inevitably draw comparisons to Sullivan’s previous works. While it does live up to the magic of Riyria in its third act, Nolyn differs significantly in subject matter and tone. While the Riyria series is an adventure tale following odd couple ex-mercenary Hadrian Blackwater and cynical thief Royce Melborn, The Rise and Fall series is shaping up to be more of a mythological fantasy depicting fictional historical events. The plot arc and character dynamics of Riyria are more fun and leave space for surprise and humor interspersed with stylish splashes of violence. Royce and Hadrian are so engaging and well-rounded that by comparison, Nolyn and Sephyryn can sometimes feel hollow with their predictable choices and lack of meaningful interaction with each other.

Sephyryn’s plotline in particular contains little of the levity or character development that readers may have come to expect from Sullivan’s novels. Her point-of-view in the novel feels disappointingly inconsequential; she is given little agency or moments of growth and primarily serves as an absent love interest and catalyst for the male character’s rise to power. Over the course of the novel, Sephyrn is compelled, in gallingly predictable ways, into awful situations while failing to consider any path other than the one set in front of her.

This might have worked with the right foil, but unfortunately, the morally ambiguous types of characters depicted in many of Sullivan’s previous works are more or less absent in Nolyn. Readers may question why there are no interesting new villains or anti-heroes to accompany this new series. The bad guys as depicted in Nolyn are generally unsubtle stereotypes: kidnapping children, murder of innocents, and machinations to rule the world are all in the playbook.

Sullivan’s writing truly shines in moments when characters who know each other well are allowed to banter and interact with each other. Nolyn’s perspective chapters, in which he joins and travels with a squadron of skilled warriors as he attempts to stay alive, are among the most engaging scenes in the book. The cast of compelling side characters, especially Nolyn’s band of brothers, elevates the book any time they show up—though one wishes they were explored more deeply, with fully fleshed-out backstories and independent motives.

Like Brandon Sanderson, Sullivan is an extremely organized and prolific writer. Sullivan has a process in which he writes a series first and then publishes each book about a year apart. This technique allows the author a lot of precision in plotting and editing to maximize effective storytelling and continuity. Fans of Sullivan’s previous works may find themselves consulting the Riyria Wiki to help identify easter eggs and continuing threads.

With a slew of successful Kickstarter campaigns to fund his novels, Sullivan has a devoted and supportive fanbase that will definitely enjoy this newest novel. Readers who enjoy the cycles of history and myth in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series should definitely check out Sullivan’s work.

In Nolyn, Sullivan has penned an enjoyable tale with consistent prose and meticulous attention to detail. Though the novel perhaps does not match the charm and rereadability of its predecessors, it is definitely worth picking up. Entertaining and immersive, Nolyn is a great summer read for fans of epic fantasy.

3.5 stars
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I was given a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I jumped when I saw this arc. I have been following Sullivan for a few years now. I've read all of the Royce and Hadrian novels. I consistently love everything I've read by the author. His world feels like returning to friends. I love the detailed world building, the characters and then humor. Royce, Hadrian and Arista are some of my favorite fantasy characters ever. 

I haven't read Age of Myth series yet. I was a little worried that it would hinder my experience. I can't act like that isn't true. A lot of this world has details from that series that if I"d read it I'd understand the plot a little quicker. I had hints of things from reading the Riyria novels. Instead of feeling discouraged though it really made me excited that I had more Sullivan to read and bumped up Age of Myth on my tbr to immediate. 

This novel was great. Everything that I've come to expect from Sullivan whether a novel or short story. I was engaged and immediately invested in the story and characters. I'm dying for the next novel especially book three. Sullivan hit it out of the park for me. He's continues to be an autobuy author, for me. Also, I waited to read this physically and through audio because I adore the narrator. 

Would I tell someone to start with Nolyn to get into Sullivan's works. No. I'd tell them to start with Riyria. But I would tell them that this is a great book and Sullivan just gets better and better. Now to wait and devour Age of Myth before book two comes out.
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I promise, this will be a review of 'Nolyn,' but I find that impossible to do without first looking at Michael J. Sullivan's world of Elan.

Sullivan is one of my favorite authors, and his Riyria Revelations is one of the best epic fantasy series of the last decade. I've read all the novels and then listened to the audiobooks. Much to my surprise, his next series featured the same characters but took us back some number of years to when the main protagonists were young men, and it's the story of how they formed a partnership and their early adventures. Granted, maybe prequels are common place, but I've read very few that I enjoyed. Riyria Chronicles was something new for me as a reader, a series set in the same world as the first, but instead of one epic quest and connected storyline, these novels were more episodic and humorous. I grew to love Hadrian and Royce even more, and I would have been happy if Sullivan had continued on with their story. 

Instead, when his third major series appeared--Legends of the First Empire--it is set nominally in the same world of Elan, but the story is set several thousand years prior to the Riyria era. Initially I remember being disappointed in 'Age of Myth'--for all of 10 or 20 pages. New races, a radically different type of story, fantastic world-building, and featuring at its center several female characters with whom I fell in love, I quickly grew to enjoy these novels as much as those of Riyria. Persephone, a leader and a queen, and Suri, a young mystic who listens to wolves and trees, are the heart of LotFE, but there's an entire small band of characters and many adventures for readers to love. The story is essentially one of humans (Rhunes) led by Persephone and a small band of renegade elves (Frye) led by Nyphron against the elven empire.

Now with 'Nolyn,' Sullivan leaps about 800 years from their story to his new present. It like a jump from the era of the Gauls who fought the Romans to the very early Middle Ages when Charlemagne becomes Holy Roman Emperor. But in Elan, Nyphron is still alive and still Emperor, a handful of elite elves rule over the humans, and the son of Nyphron & Persephone, Nolyn, is 855 years old. The daughter of Moya (Persephone's Shield) & Tetkchin, Sephryn is another such human-elf halfblood. They are the both children of heroines from LotFE, and as such, have much to live up to. The culture clashes between human and elven societies still happen often and violently, and I'm not sure how either society benefits from living together. Nyphron still feels himself superior to all humans, but long life doesn't instill wisdom, a point Sullivan strives to make time and again in 'Nolyn.' 

The span of time between birth and real action is a little problematic for the main protagonists. Looking at the titular hero, I find it hard to believe that anyone as smart as Nolyn would spend hundreds of years as an admin assistant in a salt mine. Not because he's the son of an emperor, but because how could anyone do a job he loathed for hundreds of years?  And while he's toiling as a burocrat, Sephryn, who lives in the capital, continues to be a thorn in the side of the ruling class, but even she feels that her battle for equality has been in vain. She's alone and lonely. Their lives are constant struggle, hers especially. At 850 y.o. Sephryn has no real friends in the capital, a situation that seems untenable. And could one really hold a grudge against a long, long dead mother for 800+ years? It seems she'd do better to leave the capital and live with her father than to be alone.

The best parts of the novel deal with Nolyn leading a small group of warriors (Amicus, a proto-Hadrian, Jerel, Everett, & others) against the gazhel, a goblin race, and later, as they make a move against their own empire, just as Nolyn's father did 850 years before, to understand why Nyphron seems to want to execute Nolyn by proxy. Though I loved the female characters in "Legend of the First Empire," the male camaraderie of these men is reminiscent of Hadrian and Royce, and Sullivan excels when writing their exploits. Their chapters were by far my favorite parts of the novel.

I had more trouble finding Sephryn a truly accessible character. It's not that she's not sympathetic or not likable, but compared to Sullivan's other female characters, she struck me as lacking. And that is ages before the ending, and what happens to her when she finally takes up arms.  The fact that her story revolves around trying to get her abducted baby son back safely... it just seemed like a woman who's 850 years old could deal better when faced with a kidnapping. But I would have preferred almost any other plot device than a baby for Sephryn, and that's my prejudice as a reader. When we finally learn that she's an even better archer than her fabled mother, I wished that Sephryn & Nolyn had been battling the goblins in the jungle together, rather than separated by an argument and birth of a child that one partner knows nothing about.

I don't want to be guilty of spoilers. The novel has much going for it, and overall, I enjoyed it. I feel like readers would be somewhat adrift if they haven't read Legends of the First Empire, though my own hazy memory helped me feel as clueless as the humans in the story who can't remember a past they haven't lived, but have only heard of. (Readers don't need knowledge of the Riyria series to enjoy 'Nolyn,' but they're missing a real treat.) And though I rather enjoy them, this novel doesn't end in a cliffhanger, but more in a state of existential angst, with the new rulers seemingly dreading their futures. That is an odd but honest place to end a story, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Nolyn, Sephryn, and their son (here's praying he's given a better nickname) build together. Perhaps fear of being bad rulers means they'll always strive to do better than their predecessors.
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My Thoughts

I would like to thank Grim Oak Press and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan is a well-written first book of the Rise and Fall Trilogy. I haven't read the series prior to this yet, BUT this is a standalone work that can be read without the knowledge of the previous books. That's why I still enjoyed reading it, and I'm planning to read the other series, too.

The story followed Nolyn, the heir to the throne who was sent out to the Goblin War’s front lines to die as a casualty of war. With the Seventh Sikaria Auxillary Squadron, who were not-so-ordinary soldiers, they survived the attack but now, Nolyn had to find who was trying to kill him. Was it his own father, who he had a complicated relationship with? Or maybe this planned assassination was just the tip of the iceberg? 

Told with multiple POVs, it was easy to get some insights of the personalities and motivations of the characters. The narrative started strong with Nolyn's epic battle, but it slowed down a bit in the middle, then suddenly boosted up to a nerve-racking climax. I liked the banters, the actions scenes, the betrayals, and again the last few pages were such a rollercoaster ride. I really enjoyed reading Nolyn's POV. I had a softspot for the camaraderie of unlikely group of characters. However, I wished that there was more into it. I just felt like loyalty and friendship weren't just developed in such a short time. On the other hand, Sephryn's POV was interesting, too. Although there were times where I felt like Sephryn just kept on going to the flow despite the fact she could have thought more and done something to solve her own predicament, I still kind of understood where her decisions and actions lied with.

The author's writing style was quick and easy to read. Most fantasy books I read was very traditional in a sense that I needed to get used to the writing first, but I did not need to do that while reading this novel. It felt like it already has its modern feels to it. It flowed smoothly and did not have hifalutin words. Also, he was able to present inequality and imbalance of power between various races. It had such a huge factor between the present and the past events. On top of that, I found it interesting how history was distorted in the novel. Real events were so different from what were known in the present time.

The only issue that I had was some of the plot devices were a little bit jarring and unbelievable at some point. Nevertheless, it was only a minor issue that it did not much affect my reading experience.

Overall, Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan is an entertaining read. I cannot wait to see what the other entries have to offer.

4/5 stars!
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This book is the first in a new series from Sullivan, set in the same world that his other books are.  I've read the Riyria books before, but never got around to reading the legends of the first empire, so while I was familiar with how the world of Elan will eventually be, I was much less familiar with its distant past, which Legends and this new series seem to cover.  It's easy to pick up this series with no prior knowledge, Sullivan does a great job of making this book standalone and providing context from previous books when he needs to.  The focus this time is on a plot against Nolyn, the emperor's son, by an enemy of his father's long since thought lost to time.  In the mix as well is Sephryn, Nolyn's childhood friend, who's story runs parallel to Noyln's, as well as a whole cast of supporting characters who are fascinating and interesting in their own way.  The two main plot lines connect together well, and I really like Noyln and Sephryn as characters.  There were some things I feel I missed, like the importance of Malcolm and his role, but overall, I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to seeing where the rest of the series will go.
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A great start to a new series by Michael J. Sullivan! While you could definitely jump in here, this is now a series with both a prequel series and a sequel series, so it's best read having already read the Riyria books and the Legends of the First Empire series (especially the latter). 

Michael J. Sullivan is incredibly consistent, so if you're a fan of his work so far this looks like it'll be another exciting and emotional series!
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