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Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
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While the story of this book is good, the plot is quite predictable and there are parts of it that are just unbelievable, which is hard to say for a fantasy book!
This one follows Age of Myth. The humans are still being attacked by the Fhrey, who regard them as little more than animals to be confined to their own lands. The humans realize they must band together to fight, but their stone and copper(!) weapons are useless against the Fhrey and their magic. A council is called to select a war leader to unite the human clans but during the council, some of the key characters must go off to help the Dherg (dwarves) and secure better weapons. Persephone, Brin, Suri, Moya and Roan are still the life of the clan and the most competent of the humans. Meanwhile, the Fhrey are represented by Mawyndule, the foolish and snotty crown prince as their politics plays a lesser role in this book.
One of the odd and bothersome aspects of this book is the huge differences in technology between the races. The Fhrey have magic and bronze swords, but the humans haven't even figured out what bronze is, don't have archery, the wheel or.. just about any technology. The dwarves are ahead of both of them technologically. This really doesn't make a lot of sense and it plays an important role in the book as some of the characters 'discover' hundreds of years of technology in a week. ( )
  Karlstar | Jul 10, 2018 |
Girl Power! (3.5 stars)

A very good follow-up to Age of Myth. But whereas in Age of Myth, I thought all the people mentioned were people, or humans, it turns out the Fhrey are actually elves. Also, the Dherg that are mentioned briefly in the first book are actually dwarves. The Rhunes are the only ones who are actually humans. This isn't a problem or criticism, however, but it was an interesting revelation for me. And perhaps it was better that this wasn't clear until the 2nd book... for me at least.

When Dahl Ren is attacked by giants as well as unusually accurate lightning bolts from the sky (obviously sent by the Miralyith), it seems clear that the Fhrey are on a mission to eliminate the Rhunes. Persephone decides it is best to move her people south and contact all the other clans in an effort to unite the Rhunes in preparation for the coming war. And there's a lot of excitement and things going on, but I felt this story was hampered by the constantly shifting story-lines and viewpoints. The action would build to a fever-pitch with one person or group, and then... shift to another person or group. The reader frequently has to wait as the story cycles through each of the various plot-lines before getting back to the action. This isn't to say the story drags - well, maybe sometimes, since some of the scenes actually were unnecessarily drawn out over pages and pages, frequently sacrificing the action - but I still read the rather lengthy book over just a few days (it helped that I was sick, however). Some really great characters help in that regard, and I especially enjoyed the challenges faced by Persephone, Suri, Brin, and Roan. (One other note: the advances in technology for humankind got a little ridiculous - everything from inventing the wheel to forging steel to writing - it all happens over a matter of weeks.)

It's still a pretty good adventure and quite fun to read, but I'm not sure I'll continue with the series. This one was just a little too drawn out for me. ( )
  J.Green | Apr 17, 2018 |
This was much better than the first book. The characters had far more depth than before, each one taking on a unique role. I also enjoyed how Sullivan worked in the invention of several basic technologies. At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about it, but by the end, I appreciated it. I look forward to the next book.

On a side note, I'm not thrilled with the voice actor for the audiobook. ( )
  markhamwc | Feb 5, 2018 |
**The book was reviewed for the San Francisco and Seattle Book Reviews

Age of Swords is second in Michael J Sullivan's Legends of the First Empire series. War continues to loom between Fhrey and Rhune. A vicious attack leaves those of Dahl Rhen without a home, and more determined than ever to shake free of the yoke of Fhrey oppression. Persephone, now chieftain of Dahl Rhen, issues invitations to all the Rhune clans, even the feared and fearsome Gula, to a summit to appoint a keenig who will lead the united clans against the Fhrey.

Trouble plagues the effort from the beginning. No clan wants another's chieftain to be keenig. The most logical choice refuses to even consider it because he thinks superior numbers, and Nyphron’s training mean nothing without weapons at least equal to their opponents. While the council continues to argue it out, Persephone and a band of intrepid females set out to the Dherg nation to barter for weapons of quality. What they are required to pay, and what they find are far beyond their imagination. Question is- will it be enough?

I love Sullivan's writing! He has dynamic characters and engaging, immersive story. Swords was no exception. Each character continues to grow, even as they struggle with inner and outer demons. For the women, Neith becomes their crucible, forging alchemic change. This is especially true of Suri, who pays the highest price of all for their cause. Persephone and the others grow as well. Brin and Roan, the two youngest, step into greater maturity. Moya finds her true confidence

I love that alchemic themes are teased at with Mawyndulë also. The secret Miralyth meetings are under the Rose Bridge, they are sub rosa, beneath the rose. This begins Mawyndulë's transformation, which continues in the Airenthenon. He is young, with much potential, and at a critical age for shaping ethics. I admit, I didn't like him at first. He seemed petty, shallow, and childish. These things get stripped from him in the fires of his own Calcination.

This book is all about alchemic change. It isn't just the individuals, but entire cultures. Sullivan does a masterful job showing cultural diffusion, as Rhune, Dherg, and Fhrey cultures begin to bleed into one another, sharing technology and information, however reluctantly. This diffusion sparks a great deal of growth in Rhune culture. Being the least insular, and shortest-lived seems to have made them quite adaptable. It's a great message, too, that the majority of change is instigated by women, often despite the men’s behaviour and beliefs.

I'll admit. It is a rare book that can make me actually cry. Not just tear up, but sit bawling, hugging my very confused, and increasingly irritated kitty cat. In the depths of Neith, I truly shared Suri’s sorrow. Sullivan plays the heartstrings of imagination as Suri plucks the strings of creation. Powerful magic indeed.

📚📚📚📚📚 ( )
  PardaMustang | Nov 25, 2017 |
I am 4 or 5 books behind on reviews. Just keep getting really good ones off the ol' TBR. But this was a great second installment to this series. I listened to the Audiobook read by Tim Gerard Reynolds. And I am sure he will be up for more awards this year like he was last year for book 1. I should have a full review up in a few days. ( )
  Trevorsherman | Oct 25, 2017 |
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"Age of Swords continues the epic story of the war between humankind and the elves--and of ordinary people becoming legendary heroes. It introduces a set of new characters: the dwarves, whose magical weaponcraft could decide the war. It's up to our heroes to win over the dwarves to the side of humankind...or else lose the war forever"--… (more)

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