Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Not a review: Percepliquis - Michael J. Sullivan


About the book

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS...THE ELVES HAVE CROSSED THE NIDWALDEN. TWO THIEVES WILL DECIDE THE FUTURE 

"I saw a great journey. Ten upon the road, she who wears the light will lead the way. The road goes deep into the earth, and into despair. The voices of the dead guide your steps. You walk back in time. The three-thousand-year battle begins again. Cold grips the world, death comes to all, and a choice is before you." -- Fan Irlanu, Tenkin Seerer of Oudorro Village 

Percepliquis is the final installment of the epic fantasy, The Riyria Revelations. In this saga that began with The Crown Conspiracy, two thieves caught in the wrong place at the right time were launched on a series of ever escalating adventures that have all lead to this moment. Three thousand years have passed and the time for Novron's heir to act has arrived. 

Author’s webpage

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This is not a review. Usually when I not-a-review someone, it’s because I didn’t finish their book for some reason. Well, that’s not the case here. In my humble opinion, a review should be comprised of both positive and negative aspects of a book. As you will soon see, while I could quibble over small, meaningless details there is just no point to discuss anything negative regarding Percepliquis. Thus, this isn’t a review; it’s more like an ode to Michael Sullivan and his wonderful series.

It has taken me a while to really wrap my head around Percepliquis. In reality, despite the fact that I got Fiona (my four-month-old) to sleep last night and had ample time to write a review, I couldn’t do it. This is one of those books that grips you so tight, and pulls you so close you have to take time to untangle yourself from it and step back so you can actually wrap your head around its wonder. I had to completely switch gears and read some Stephen King or my excitement over Percepliquis would have kept me up all night, and with a lively four-month-old, that’s just not an option.

Riyria Revelations is a wonderful sword and sorcery series which is very reminiscent of many of the fantasy books which really got me into the genre in the first place. This fact is true with the whole series, perhaps most strongly with Percepliquis than other books. There were many times in Percepliquis I was reminded of other fantasy books that I had read and loved many years ago. An example of this would be the dwarf cities in Lord of the Rings, or even the quest for the ring itself. In other books comparisons or similarities like that might come of as cliché and tired, but Sullivan pulls them off masterfully and while Percepliquis does remind me of many other fantasy books, it just endeared me to the book even more as these similarities worked to remind me why I love fantasy so much.

Percepliquis has everything. It’s filled with drama, an epic quest, and adventure, plot twists and, perhaps most importantly, it’s incredibly emotionally compelling. The whole of the Riyria Revelations series has been very character driven, but Percepliques is perhaps the most character driven of the series and is incredible intimate with readers often seeing sides of characters that they hadn’t seen in previous books. These characters grow, develop and unfold quite a bit in Percepliquis and become exactly what Sullivan has been building them up to become. It’s a book of transformation and with its raw emotional quality it’s incredibly poignant. While it’s the longest book in the series, roughly double the size of most of the others, the fact that it’s impossible to put down will make the pages practically turn themselves. Percepliquis, while being long, didn’t last long enough. It was over too soon and I found myself automatically wanting to reread the whole series just so I could enjoy it all over again.

I feel that epic fantasy is a genre which could easily become notorious for having series that never end. In fact, I haven’t read many end-of-series books in epic fantasy. This recent trend of authors writing trilogies is starting to end that, but it’s a rare treat for me to find an epic fantasy series that lasts longer than three books and actually has an end. The fact that Percepliquis is the end of a six book series is notable in and of itself. However, what really sets it apart from the crowd is that Sullivan did something unique here. He took ideas that aren’t incredibly new, and proudly made them his own. In the afterward (which I highly recommend everyone read as it sheds a lot of light on the series, and Sullivan’s inspiration behind writing it), he mentions that he wrote this series because he couldn’t find anything like it on the shelves. He wrote what he wanted to read and share with his daughter. Perhaps because of that, the series is more than an incredible journey and some great writing, but it’s a journey away from current trends and into something new and it’s a series with a lot of heart. Riyria Revelations has a happy ending, a strong emotional base, a visual and exciting world and characters you can really root for. It’s a book that reminds you why you love fantasy, and brings you back to the classics like Lord of the Rings all the while blazing it’s own trail into new, shining territory.

Percepliquis is the end of all endings. Sullivan masterfully ties together every possible loose end that he could. Some you’d expect some come as a surprise. Characters from previous books (some of who I never expected to see again) are revisited. While some of the plot elements are rather predictable, Percepliquis isn’t about predicting the plot, but savoring it. There are plenty of “ah-ha” moments as things tie together, or light shines on something and suddenly everything seems to make sense. The truly amazing thing is how much thought and detail (many of these details I never noticed until I read the afterward) Sullivan used throughout the series. I can’t imagine how he managed to keep meticulous track of over all the books he’s written in the series to make everything in Percepliquis so flawlessly click together.

I dare say that most of us were introduced to fantasy through books filled with burly heros with swords, sorcerers, shadowy evil people and epic quests. These are the stories that most of us fell in love with, that blazed the path into speculative fiction for us. These days the trend is toward graphic, gritty, dark and “different” but it’s these sword and sorcery roots that got us to desire these new trends. It’s sword and sorcery that brought us to love the genre. It’s books like Percepliquis that bring us back to our roots and remind us what fantasy is all about. Percepliquis reminded me of the magic of the genre. Percepliquis made me fall in love with fantasy all over again. It’s a book to be proud of, finishing off a series that has quickly become one of my absolute favorites. Percepliquis truly is Michael Sullivan’s magnum opus.

5/5 stars

6 comments:

  1. Wow. Amazing non-review, I need to get my hands on this series...

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  2. I can't count the number of times I've heard and seen people talking about this book, and all I can do is grumble because I haven't even read the first book of the series and likely won't be able to for a little while. From the sounds of it, it's a series I'll probably love, and I'm dying to give it a chance, moreso after seeing this review!

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  3. YES!! :D Absolutely yes! lol. Wonderful non-review. :) Michael is really one in a higher class of writing he has created.

    I'm screaming form the rooftops, MASTERFUL!! :D

    Every fantasy reader NEEDS to get this series. :)

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  4. Great "Not-A-Review" Sarah, and a perfect reason for one! Well written missy.

    I'm so glad we feel the same about the book, and I'm doubly glad that Michael will feel so good about the first few words about the series he spent so long with, and nurturing to this conclusion.

    Awesome.

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  5. For a slight dissenting opinion, I did not like the book as much as Wintertide; too much of a cookie cutter ending with everything wrapped up and a few other niggles I talked on goodreads, combined with the book being firmly in the traditional :ancient evil, heroes gotta save the world" camp which I kind of got tired of.

    I liked much more Royce and Hadrian as a pair of adventures thieves

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  6. I'm shocked that I've never heard of this series before! Thanks to your informative review(well, Not-A-Review review) I now have something else to put on my 2012 reading list. Tis a list that keeps growing and growing and GROWING...

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