The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan

From Orbit Books:

Hadrian, a warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin, Royce, with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most prized possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels that the old wizard is after, and if he can just keep them from killing each other, they just might do it.

The Crown Tower is the first volume in a two book series (for ‘duology’ doesn’t seem the right term, given their nature, as explained by Sullivan below) called The Riyira Chronicles, and will be followed shortly afterwards by The Rose and Thorn, the concluding volume.

Sullivan himself has more details about the series and its conception:

You’re probably wondering what The Riyria Chronicles are. Right now it’s not much more than an idea I have. The Riyria Chronicles, as I envision them, are stories that fill in the history of the twelve years of Royce and Hadrian’s life as Riyria. They will be generally standalone novels that I imagine will center on significant events in their career together, told mostly in order, and I was thinking one book for everyone of one their twelve years. That’s not to say I will write twelve books. This isn’t that kind of series. It’s not an ongoing tale or interconnected in the sense that Revelations was, or Song of Ice and Fire is. It really can’t be since if you’ve read The Riyria Revelations, you already know how everything turns out. So this won’t be a single story told in parts, but rather much more episodic like The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes or maybe the Dresden Files—only with medieval thieves instead of nineteenth century detectives or modern day wizards.


You may be wondering why I didn’t just do a sequel.

If you read Revelations, you know how the story ends. Some have actually called it perfect, and I worked hard ensuring those dominos fell exactly right. I like the place that everyone was left in, and am perfectly content to have them get a rest after all the trials and tribulations I’ve put them through. That’s not to say I won’t consider something in the same world, generations in the future, but Royce and Hadrian wouldn’t star in such a story. Chronicles is a way I can provide more of what most of my readers have told me they want—more time with two guys who should never have been friends, risking their lives for each other.

It’s great to see that Sullivan is continuing to tackle the series in a manner similar to classic Sword & Sorcery, exploring the various adventures of Royce and Hadrian, telling a full story in each volume and leaving readers satisfied. Though this is only a two book contract, I’d be surprised if we don’t see further Riyira tales for the foreseeable future.

Oh, the cover. It’s blah, but whatever. It matches the previous books, with the image and lettering reversedm also setting it apart, so I’m happy enough. Nice branding from Orbit for Sullivan.

Sullivan has written at length about a handful of his other writing projects, notably Antithesis and A Burden to the Earth, both of which are substantial departures from the typical Fantasy found in The Riyira Revelations and, if there’s anything this book blogger has learned, publishers are often hesitant when new authors (and old) start muttering quietly about writing outside of their established genres. It’s not a surprise that Orbit gently nudged Sullivan back in the direction of Sword & Sorcery, and particularly the origins of the Riyira duo, who fans have been long interested in. Including this guy.

I won’t be surprised to see his other novels released, especially considering they are both fully written, and A Burden to the Earth also edited to the same extent that the original Ridan Publishing editions of the Riyira books. That said, I think they’re more likely to be published by Ridan than Orbit, for the earlier mentioned reasons. You can learn more about these two books on Sullivan’s website.

The Crown Tower will be released in August, 2013 by Orbit Books.

  • Michael J. Sullivan September 28, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Thanks for helping to get the word out! Just for the record, Orbit didn’t nudge me to do more Riyria books. I was the one that approached them and they didn’t even know I was working on anything Riyria related. Historically my editor hasn’t been a fan of prequels, but after reading The Crown Tower she immediately wanted to sign them up and as she puts it, “It doesn’t read like a prequel.”

    As for Antithesis, that book has been submitted to Orbit, we’ll see whether they are interested or not. A Burden to the Earth is on hold simply because I don’t know what to do with it. It’s not something Orbit would be interested in (it’s literary fiction, not fantasy or science fiction), and I don’t think literary fiction does well when self-published. So it’s just kind of “sitting around” until I get a chance to give it another round of edits. As long as I’m discussing future works my current “work in progress” is something called Hollow World (a stand-alone science fiction novel). I’m hoping to be able to submit that to Orbit before the end of the year. Last but not least, I do have another series that I had hoped to start writing this fall (I’m behind on it) but do have a lot of the research and some basic pinnings of ideas. I will likely write this series as I did Revelations and Chronicles, which is to have all the planned books done before submitting any of them. This allows me to edit between volumes. My hope is that The Crown Tower, The Rose and Thorn, Hollow World, and Antithesis will give me the 2 years of run way to get this new series written.

  • Jeffrey Carr October 1, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I enjoyed every moment as a beta reader for Mr. Sullivan’s “The Crown Tower”. As with “The Riyria Revelations”, it has an easy style that makes reading and enjoying the story effortless. The characters continue to be highly likable and entertaining. One lesser character from the trilogy, nonetheless important, becomes a major character. One secondary character, introduced in this series, steals the show. The settings are richly detailed, and the dialog strong. The Royce of “The Crown Tower” is a dark shadow of who he is to become, and he will have the longest road to who he is to become in “The Riyria Revelations”. Hadrian, on the other hand, is generally the same good natured, hopeful man. If anyone has wondered about their past, to their introduction to one another, a good deal appears to be satisfied by this story.

    Some things of the final story I am sure will be different. Whatever the final product turns out to be it will be worth the read.

    Alas, to say more would spoil it.

  • […] sublime. It should surprise no one that I’m much in favour of the shift away from the photo-realistic, figure-based covers that Orbit produced for the first two books in the Riyira Chronicles series. Sullivan agrees. […]