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The Riyria Chronicles #4

The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter

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A daughter vanishes. Two rogues are paid a fortune to find her. It isn't enough.

When Gabriel Winter's daughter mysteriously disappears and is presumed dead, the wealthy whiskey baron seeks revenge. Having lived in Colnora during the infamous Year of Fear, he hires the one man he knows can deliver a bloody retribution - the notorious Duster.

Ride with Royce and Hadrian as the cynical ex-assassin and idealistic ex-mercenary travel to a mysterious old-world city filled with nobles claiming descent from imperial aristocracy. Riyria's job appears easy: discover what happened to the missing duchess and, if she lives, bring her home . . . if not, punish those responsible. But nothing is simple in the crowded, narrow, mist-filled streets of Rochelle, where more than one ancient legend lurks.

444 pages, Paperback

First published December 5, 2017

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About the author

Michael J. Sullivan

110 books92.6k followers
Esrahaddon, the last book in the Rise and Fall trilogy, is almost done. Just finished the recording of the audiobook, and the layout. Will pass it by Gamma readers for one last quality check then it's off to the printers!

In other news, Farilane, hit #1 on Amazon's Bestselling Epic Fantasy list! The ebook and audiobook are already released, and the hardcover will release on May 16th.

Thanks for visiting my page! Here are other sites where you can contact me.

I'm a New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestselling author with 9 Goodreads Choice Award Nominations.

I first opened the door to my imagination with typewriter keys while playing hide and seek and finding a black behemoth when I just ten years old. Serious writing started in my twenties, but after more than a decade trying to publish (and getting nowhere), I quit altogether. I returned to writing in 2004, and published my first novel with a small press in 2008. If you had told me that I'd be a New York Times Bestselling author, have 85+ novels translated into 13 languages, and sold more than 2 million copies, I never would have believed you!

But now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you a bit about my books, which can be broken down into two main series.

THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE: The foundations of Elan are laid by an unlikely band of misfits.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer. Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom. And Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.

THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS & CHRONICLES: The strongest bonds of friendship are forged in blood.

They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.
There's no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they're framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it's too late.

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Profile Image for Michael.
Author 110 books92.6k followers
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November 29, 2019
Those who know me, know that I don't review my own books, but I do use this space to provide updates. So here goes!

Update: 11/29/19 -- I hope everyone who celebrates such things had a good holiday. I'm pleased to announce that this story (in the audiobook format) is now on sale for just $7 as part of Audible.com's Black Friday sale. But you have to hurry, the sale ends Dec 3 at 12:00 PT).

Update: 07/02/19 -- I answered a few questions from people asking about the trade paperback edition, but I thought I should post here as well. Yes, there will be one, and it will ship from retailers starting September 3rd. For those looking at getting this version before then, copies are available now from my online store (and those copies are signed). The warehouse has sold out of hardcover copies, which means the ones currently in stores and the warehouses at Amazon & Barnes and Noble are the only ones left. Well, those and the 18 copies we have in our warehouse.

Update: 10/02/18 At long last -- It's officially release day the hardcover and ebook. My thanks to all the people who pre-ordered. I hope you enjoy the read!

Update: 03/09/18 I thought I would provide a little update for people on the 4th Chronicle novel. First the bad news...since Age of War's release was pushed back, so, too, will the retail release of this book. Currently we are looking at October 3rd. But the good news is you can get the book right now by...

ordering direct from me (for ebook and print copies) and
audible.com to hear Tim Gerard Reynolds read you the tale.

So far, sales have topped 18,500 copies, not bad for a book that's not even in the retail chain yet! And the ratings have been extraordinary (4.45 on Goodreads, 4.7 on Audible). We have more than 4,100 reviews and ratings and a whopping 94.7% have been a 4 or a 5. Wow! I'm so glad people have been loving the book so much. Will this mean a 5th Chronicle? Well, things are looking pretty positive in that direction, but I'll likely hold off until the retail release since most of the people buying now are dedicated fans and I want to make sure there isn't a sentiment out there of, "time for these guys to bow off the stage." Thanks all for the support! And we'll keep you posted.

Update: 12/09/17 Have I really not posted an update since the launch of the Kickstarter? That's so negligent of me...and so much has happened. Okay, so first things first, the Kickstarter was a huge success, it ended up being the 2nd most-backed and 4th highest-funded fiction project of all time. And those numbers are based on worldwide data so it includes all countries. Between the Kickstarter, pre-orders taken on my site, and pre-orders taken from BackerKit (a post-Kickstarter fulfillment site) the project has raised more than $103,000! The audiobook is live on Audible and the ebooks bought directly from me have shipped. Between the two, we've sold more than 7,500 digital downloads. As for the printed books, they left the printer and will be delivered to us on Monday, and we'll start shipping the 1,600 books that are pre-ordered. For the next six months, people can get the ebook, hardcover, or paperbacks directly from us, and in June we'll open up the retail channel for mass distribution. See, I told you a lot has happened ;-)

Update: 10/05/17 At noon (EDT) today, The Kickstarter launches! Assuming we fund, there will be three different hardcover versions available: rare edition (100 copies bound in faux leather with gold foil stamping and a matching slipcase), limited edition (500 copies bound in linen with a custom dust jacket), regular hardcover (dust jacket matches the paperback edition). If we don't fund, the book will still be produced, it just won't have the hardcover editions.

Update: 08/29/17 Well, it's just two days until the beta read is officially completed, but as the window between it and the start of copyediting grew incredibly short, Robin has already given me a list of about a dozen or so changes which I just incorporated. Good catches by the beta readers! Robin is going to be doing a copy edit on those new passages, while she waits for the rest of the beta feedback and then I'll make any additional changes before it goes off to the Linda and Laura -- who already have time reserved to work on this project. So, still on schedule and the book is in really good shape at this point.

Update: 08/19/17A lot is going on, and I'm sorry I've not been updating more quickly. Well Robin proclaimed 90% of the book in good shape, but she had some issues with the way it ended so we spent some time implementing 8 minor and 1 major aspect. This meant we missed our original beta date, but it's in the hands of the beta testers now and it seems to be going well (according to Robin). We ate up some of our "cushion" with the rewrites but we are still on track for the December 5th release.

Update: 5/30/17 Well, it's official...the book is written. I finished writing it May 18th and spent the next week and a half going over it. As of 5/29 it's officially in the hands of Robin. Assuming she's as pleased with it as much as I am we should be on track for a December 5th release.

Update: 4/29/17 It's been a while since the last update, so I thought it was high time I did one! The book went through some pretty major surgery recently. As I neared the end, the climax wasn't quite as good as I wanted. To change that I had to add some things that needed to be worked in throughout the tale so I had the book essentially tore a part for about a week as I added the required information. With that complete, and the book reassembled, I'm now down to the last few chapters. Will keep everyone posted when I'm done writing.

In other news, the audio book is live and pre-orders are already coming in. For those who prefer ebook and/or print you can sign up for early notification at this link. Already have 1,750 people who have done exactly that!

Also, thanks to people shelving the book early, it's currently the 5th most popular book releasing in December 2017! So, thanks to everyone who is indicating they want to read the book.

And last, but certainly not least, Marc Simonetti has agreed to do the cover, and he's working on it now. So things are definitely coming along.

Update: 2/23/17 Wanted to give everyone an update on how the writing is going for this book. I think I'm about a month behind but hope to have the first draft wrapped by end of March or mid-April. I took more than a month off to deal with (a) copyedits for Age of Swords and (b) a bunch of manual labor required to get the cabin livable. With those activities behind me, I'm back at work and have about 1/3 of the novel finished. Release date of Oct/Nov still looks like it will work. If you've not yet signed up to be notified when the book is released, here is a link where you can do so. Oh, and don't forget to put the book on your Goodreads To-read shelf!! Adding it will help spread the word to your friends and followers. Well, I best get back to it.

Update: 12/29/16 Well, we have a provisional title for the book: The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter. It could change if the beta readers come up with better ideas. But I'm running with it for now.

Update: 12/05/16 Well, we have a release date!! Or at least a close approximation. The book will come out sometime in November 2017 before Thanksgiving. I had to work a bit with my publisher of the Legends of the First Empire books to find a place and way that we could squeeze this book in. But we have that finalized now. Because of the pre-planning the book is already in the top 10 most popular books for Nov 2017. So, if you are interested in getting a copy, please consider adding it to your to-read shelf and it'll rise even higher in that ranking. Oh, and speaking of interest in the book. It'll be released in an usual way. For the first six-months it won't be in stores, but you will be able to get the book directly from me in ebook, hardcover, or trade paperback (the audio version will be available on Audible.com and Apple's iBookstore). Since it won't be in stores, it'll be easy to miss the release date, so if you want to be notified where and how it is available for order, you can sign up for notification here.

In other news, the writing is going well. No major snags encountered in the plot and the daily writing is easy and turning out well. I'm hoping to have the first draft completed by the end of February.

Update: 11/22/16 The first 10,000 words are in, which is a good milestone to reach. I'm pleased with how things are goings, and haven't hit any stumbling blocks...which I usually do before now. I've also set my goal for finishing the first draft by the end of February. That should be doable.

Update: 11/15/16 Yesterday I started my first official day of writing. The first 1,700 words are in the can. I usually don't write in the evenings but I was so motivated that I went back an edited that opening. Always fun starting a new book!

Update: 10/1/16 Well it's the start of a new month and yesterday I found the last major piece of the puzzle required to write this book, so the story is coming together nicely. I'm not sure when I'll start writing...I'm expecting structural comments from my editor on Age of Swords (Legends of the First Empire #2), and Robin and Sarah are busy compiling input from the beta read. I think I should make those changes first so I can move on with the writing of this without interruption. But it's good to know I have a place to start and Ill be fleshing it in a bit more while I wait for the AoS feedback.
Profile Image for Petrik.
674 reviews42.8k followers
October 12, 2021
As always, another great book in the series, and now I’m fully caught up with The Riyria Chronicles. I hope it won’t be too long for Drumindor to come out.

“Things will change, but not all at once… You can’t obtain respect at the point of a sword, not from people who despise us. Respect needs to be earned. Trust needs to be built up over time, over generations.”

If someone told me I would grow to care about this duo this much years ago, I won’t believe them. It is a happy and sad day; I’ve read every available book—so far—in The Riyria Chronicles series by Michael J. Sullivan. The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter is the fourth book in The Riyria Chronicles series by Michael J. Sullivan. In a similar storytelling approach to the previous installment, The Death of Dulgath, this novel is written to work as a standalone. Gabriel Winter’s daughter mysteriously disappears, and she’s presumed dead. Two of our beloved rogues—Royce and Hadrian—are paid a fortune to seek the truth behind this disappearance, and deliver bloody retribution to the person responsible. Once again, it’s good to be back with Royce and Hadrian again; they’re truly one of the best bromances in fantasy, and The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter just strengthened that notion further. Although I do think that this novel is comparatively the weakest of the available four books so far, there’s no denying that I overall had a great time reading this part of Riyria’s adventure.

“Gwen, it seemed, was a much better thief. She’d managed to steal an entire person; She’d pinched his old self, stealing it away like a poorly guarded purse. When she was around, everything was different. Mostly, it was confusing, both exciting and peaceful, which left Royce pondering the change. Was he better off or crippled? Had he lost his way or found a better one?”

Personally speaking, I struggled in several sections in the first half of the novel. Unlike its predecessors, the new characters, setting, and plotline somehow took me some time to find myself completely immersed. This is different than The Death of Dulgath, for example, where I found myself hooked by everything instantly. Fortunately, I’ve gotten to care about the newly introduced characters—especially Evelyn Hamsworth—in the second half of the novel. And let’s not forget, in the midst of the parts that didn’t click with me, there’s always Royce and Hadrian, the cynical ex-assassin and the idealistic ex-mercenary.

“Why is it you choose to see the darkness in everything?”
“Because it’s there, and ignoring that fact invites peril.”
“But light is also there, and recognizing it allows happiness.”
“What good is being happy if you’re dead?”
“What good is being alive if you’re miserable?”

Among fans of the series, there’s no doubt that the biggest highlight of everything related to the Riyria series is this duo. The interactions and banter between them continue to be so damn enjoyable to read. Once again, Royce continues to be dumbfounded by how kind and idealistic Hadrian is, and it’s incredibly delightful to witnessed Royce’s constant character development from their first meeting. Hadrian and Gwen’s influence on Royce is impossible to stop. Royce and Hadrian are like yin and yang; two opposite sides, but together they form a whole. Royce thinks that every solution requires merciless actions; Hadrian is the opposite, and he’s often rewarded by his virtues. The contrast is always fun to read, and in this book, seeing they interact with Evelyn Hemsworth ended up being one of the best parts of the book.

“Hadrian was wrong. I do have a unicorn in my world, and the damn thing goes by the name of Hadrian Blackwater. He’s a mythical beast impossible to believe in, even when he’s right in front of me.”

The other best part about The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter is getting to witness more of Hadrian’s past. The previous two books were heavily focused on Royce and his development; again, how Hadrian and Gwen changed his life and line of thoughts, even if slowly. In this novel, Hadrian has more spotlight than Royce. Hadrian may be a super kind-hearted character, but we must not forget that he has extraordinary swordmanship and talent in battle. I mean, his multiple titles as Galenti, The Tiger of Mandalin, the Hero of Calis, the Courtier of the Queen, and the Bane of the Ba Ran Ghazel aren’t for show. They’re there for a good reason. And it felt great to hear it from a character that has witnessed Hadrian's past—that he regrets—in person.

“Every cup is different, but each can only hold so much. Eventually you either stop pouring or make an awful mess. Make a big enough mess and you have to clean up; you have to change… I made a really big mess, and it wasn’t tea I spilled.”

As I mentioned, I highly enjoyed reading the second half. The pacing there was brilliant, and this is probably the most action-packed book within The Riyria Chronicles or The Riyria Revelations. I don’t think I can recall any book in the Riyria series having this many chase and battle scenes. And it’s wonderful. Sullivan’s prose flows well like usual, and when it comes to his books, I tend to always find a lot of resonating passages, such as this:

“Chasing fantasies was a thin thread to justify a life, and yet how many wonders had been wrought by people who did exactly that—those who believed in crazy dreams.”

Despite a few rocky starts, The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter is overall another magnificent addition to Royce and Hadrian’s adventure. Reading The Riyria Chronicles has been such a blessing, and as I said before, I never expected I would grow to care about Royce and Hadrian this much, but this prequel series really did it for me. It made me excited for the future of The Riyria Chronicles, especially because the next one is titled Drumindor, and it also made me so pumped to reread The Riyria Revelations. Highly recommended!

“Surviving was often a matter of moving forward. Moving forward was a matter of putting yesterday in the past, and all of it began with putting one foot ahead of the other, remembering how to smile, how to dance, and especially, remembering that laughing wasn’t disrespectful; it was essential.”

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Element, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Hunter, Jimmy Nutts, Jennifer, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Neeraja, Nicholas, Oliver, ReignBro, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Shaad, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
699 reviews869 followers
August 11, 2021
4.5 stars.

Riyria has a special place in my heart.

While The Stormlight Archive and The Malazan Book of the Fallen fulfill my love for epic fantasy, Riyria (both Chronicles and Revelations) satisfies a different need. The sense of wonder that I obtain from reading Riyria, which is more of a classical fantasy, feels more intimate and cozy, if I can even describe it as such. Every time I pick up a book about my favourite duo, Hadrian and Royce, it is akin to coming home to meet old friends.

The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter is no different in that I enjoyed every minute I spent with these two thieves of conflicting personalities but complementing proficiencies. While no prior knowledge of previous Chronicles books nor the Revelations series is required to enjoy this novel, it makes the reading experience more satisfying to have done so. Having read the former will help you appreciate how the duo came together against all the odds and the growth of their partnership - and budding friendship - through the years. And knowledge of the latter will give you a few snickers where some casual comments manifest as private jokes of sorts given hindsight knowledge. And there are always little Easter eggs scattered across the narrative for the seasoned reader - who doesn't love finding Easter eggs?

The premise is relatively simple, as deduced from the title itself. The beauty is, however, in the details. I have to give it to Michael J Sullivan for one of the most vividly portrayed locations that he has ever written thus far. From the grand architecture to the bustling streets and alleys, and the myriad of people in the city of Rochelle, the descriptions were beautifully evocative. True to his form, Sullivan has yet again given us great new characters from diverse backgrounds and races. There are also a few not-so-new faces for those familiar with the series. The story is essentially character-driven with just enough plot to keep it interesting.

Now, for the best part - it is about Hadrian and Royce of course! It is no secret that I have a strong positive bias to any form of storytelling about these two guys, so long as Sullivan stays true to their characterisation. The Chronicles form the backstory about how these two most unlikely partners-in-crime came together and then spent years as the infamous Riyria before the momentous events in Revelations. As such, most of the page time is dedicated to the duo, for which I am delighted.

Written in a limited third-person perspective, each Chronicles book has a slight focal bias towards one or the other member of Riyria. Hadrian in The Crown Tower, and Royce in the last two instalments. In Winter's Daughter, it is back to my biggest fictional crush, who has the most impactful narrative. And more often than not, it was Royce who has to deal with the unsettling influence from his "unusually kind, empathetic and forgiving" partner. The gradual changes wrought in him far outweighs that of his worldly views on Hadrian.

Hadrian was wrong. I do have a unicorn in my world, and that damn thing goes by the name of Hadrian Blackwater. He's a mythical beast impossible to believe in, even when he's right in front of me.

And speaking of Hadrian, the one minor complaint I had in this instalment was the lack of swordplay or fighting scenes. If you know Riyria, you will know why this can be a tad disappointing. The action is geared toward chase scenes; one which is gorgeously rendered by the amazing Marc Simonetti in the stunning cover of the book.

This volume is a highly satisfying addition to the Riyria Chronicles that adds to the backstory of Hadrian and Royce. It is with a heavy heart that I have to bid farewell to these old friends of mine for some time. I will look forward most immensely to meeting them again. Judging from the loose thread at the end of this story and the Afterword, I am holding my breath for the next one.

Note to Michael J. Sullivan - I want more, please!

This review can also be found at Booknest
Profile Image for Phee.
572 reviews58 followers
December 12, 2017
This was fantastic!
The 10th novel featuring our amazing duo Royce and Hadrian, the rouges for hire known as Riyria. I must say that this is one of my favourites. The story was full of mystery and suspicion. The side characters were colourful and unique. But most importantly, I felt like I learned so much during this one. Not only about the world and the magic of its races, but I learned so much more about Royce and Hadrian.

In the Revelations series, both of our main characters are well established. You learn bits and pieces about them and know that their friendship is a deep bond formed over many years. But it is in these Chronicles novels that we see our duo become the men we know and love. At this point in the story Hadrian is still haunted by his actions in his earlier years. Some interesting events are mentioned in this one that I won’t spoil but shed so much light on Hadrian. Whilst he is that ever optimistic idiot that we love, he has a darkness in him too. It’s nice to see a bit more variety in his character.
As for Royce, well. One of the beautiful and humorous parts of this book was Royce realising that he has feelings. Yes I just said feelings and Royce in the same sentence. Again nice to see some variety in him as well. He was especially morbid in this one, the Year of Fear was brought up numerous times. He’s much darker in these Chronicles novels, still more of ‘Duster’ than Royce. Again I loved it when Hadrian realised what certain mannerisms from Royce mean. His smile for example, it is never good if Royce is smiling.

Never have I laughed so much whilst reading a Riyria book. Honestly this is the funniest of the lot. The banter had me in stitches. Hadrian compares Royce to several animals, cats and even a badger. Also Hadrian Blackwater’s logic of unicorns existing is brilliant (Trust me, when you read it, you’ll understand). Royce is so cynical and pessimistic, I love him so much. Hadrian never gives up on trying to show Royce the goodness in people. As much as Royce thinks about killing Hadrian, you can really tell how much he loves him.

The actual plot is like your standard Riyria plot. But it did feel like this one was more engaging and definitely had more of a mystery element that I enjoyed.
Something I would like to add and make people aware of. I feel that certain revelations made in the Death of Dulgath and that continued in this novel will definitely spoil a main part of the Revelations series. So I would certainly read the books in publication order to save being spoiled. Some people may not mind as it’s only a secret of a character but I know if I had read these in chronological order then I would be massively disappointed. It’s only mentioned in the Death of Dulgath a couple of times but in this book it is repeatedly brought up in the characters mind. So please be aware.

I’m sure that there will be more from this world. I’d quite happily read about Royce and Hadrian forever. In the authors note, Sullivan mentions that he is writing another trilogy set between his Age series and this one. So there might not be another Royce and Hadrian novel for a while. But I will happily wait. They are worth it.
Profile Image for Anna [Bran. San. Stan].
261 reviews80 followers
February 7, 2023
4.5 “I-love-Royce-and-Hadrian” stars.
“Why is it you choose to see the darkness in everything?”
“Because it’s there, and ignoring that fact invites peril.”
“But light is also there, and recognizing it allows happiness.”
“What good is being happy if you’re dead?”
“What good is being alive if you’re miserable?”

2nd read via GraphicAudio: Royce and Hadrian’s voices are perfect! While I love Bradley Foster Smith when he gives voice to Elend (Mistborn Era 1), Wayne (Mistborn Era 2), and Szeth (Stormlight) among others, I’m not as much a fan of his narration in the Riyria books. Still, absolutely worth it!

The Riyria Chronicles
1. The Crown Tower – 5 stars
2. The Rose and the Thorn – 5 stars
3. The Death of Dulgath – 4.5 stars
4. The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter – 4.5 stars
5. Drumindor (to be released)

To be read BEFORE the Chronicles:
Riyria Revelations
1. The Crown Conspiracy – updated to 4.25 stars
2. Avempartha – 4.5 stars
3. Nyphron Rising – 5 stars
4. The Emerald Storm – 4.5 stars
5. Wintertide – 5 stars
6. Percepliquis – 5 stars
Profile Image for Samir.
111 reviews174 followers
November 25, 2017
Step aside Holmes and Watson! There are new detectives in town!

As the title of the book suggests, this is a mystery novel, so if you enjoy your fantasy mixed with lot of intrigue and suspense, you’re in for a treat because The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter brings the best from both worlds.

If this is your first encounter with Riyria, you can read this book without any prior knowledge of the world and the characters. However, I’m going to repeat something I said in one of my previous reviews of the Chronicles series; to enjoy this book and the Chronicles series to the fullest, I highly recommend you to read the Revelations series first because the experience will make you understand and appreciate the special bond Royce and Hadrian have even more.

TDoWD, like the previous books in the Chronicles series has the background story of friendship and gives us a window to inner thoughts of our heroes, showing us how they started to care for one another and how their professional bond started to turn into something truly special.

"But when you volunteer to act as collateral," Royce went on, "that puts me in a tight spot. The stakes go up, and I can’t walk away if things take a nasty turn-like this one did." "Is this your way of saying you care about me?" "This is my way of saying you’re an idiot, and the next time you do something that stupid, I’ll let them kill you." Hadrian smiled. "You really like me, don’t you?" "Shut up." "I feel bad now," Hadrian said, "I didn’t get you anything for Spring Day." Royce walked faster, shaking his head as he moved forward.

Gabriel Winter, the wealthy baron, hired Riyria to find his daughter who disappeared under mysterious circumstances and presumed dead. They travel to the old-world city of Rochelle and their case proves to be more complicated than expected and very soon they’re tangled up in the secrets of the nobles, the troubles of neglected races and threats of ancient legends. I dare not to say more out of fear of spoiling something for you so, the game is afoot. Or, if Royce is concerned, someone is going to lose a foot.

I really enjoyed spending time in this world again, with my favorite fantasy duo, and I really can’t wait for more of their adventures and I sincerely hope there would be more, not just because I want to see a certain thread, from this and the previous book, developed further, but because spending time with Royce and Hadrian feels like spending time with your best friends, and because of that, Riyria will forever have a special place in my heart and on my shelf. This isn’t just an ordinary fantasy, this is fantasy with a soul.

"…a life barren of unicorns was existence without purpose. Hadrian had visited that dark land once. He’d lived as a glutton of selfishness, reclining on the luxury of visible truths. He’d drowned himself in wine and blood, but more he consumed, the emptier he felt. What was the point if, living is anguish and then you die? Hearing those words convinced Hadrian of the importance of unicorns. Even if there weren’t any, it was absolutely necessary to believe they existed. What’s more, he needed to find them. It wasn’t much. Chasing fantasies was a thin thread to justify life, and yet how many wonders had been wrought by people who did exactly that-those who believed in crazy dreams."

Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,463 reviews9,618 followers
November 10, 2019
I love my boys so much. Well, I don’t like Royce’s dog issues but other than that, I love these two. I hope we get more books about them. This is a series I want to go on forever. I actually like these books more than Mr. Sullivan’s newest books 😉

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
December 8, 2017
Theft of Swords 4*
Rise of Empire 4.25*
Heir of Novron 5*

Age of Myth 5*
Age of Swords 3.5*

The Crown Tower 3.5*
The Rose and the Thorn 5*
The Death of Dulgath 4*
The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter 4.25*

So needless to say I've read all of the available books of this world and this book stands proudly among the rest. I often find it hard to review books this far into a series/world without giving away too much.

Let's just say if you've read Ryeria you'll love this book. It has hooks into both of the other series in this world. The usual banter between our two beloved protagonists. The story itself is fun if straightforward.

If you haven't read Ryeria and you like earthy sword fantasy with elves, dwarves, magic and a strong character driven story this is a series for you. Hadrian is the compelling traditional hero that will draw most of you in and Royce is the unwilling anti-hero for darker readers such as myself.

Happy reading.
Profile Image for Nicole.
442 reviews13.4k followers
June 1, 2023
Bardzo dobre zakończenie i ciekawa historia, ale nie ukrywam, że dwa pierwsze tomy były dla mnie najprzyjemniejsze. Mam wrażenie, że są po prostu dużo lżejsze niż tom 3 i 4. Niemniej chętnie będę wracała do tego świata ♥️
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
November 20, 2017
This is the newest book in the Riyria world and it once more follows Hadrian and Royce, the notorious thieves-for-hire who go by the name of Riyria. They're fairly well-established by this point, and each is notorious in certain parts of the world (if you've read the other Riyria Chronicles and Revelations books that you'll no doubt know why...)

This story is a self-contained one, so you can certainly start here if you're new to the Riyria world. In this instalment we're following H & R as they are hired by Winter to find his daughter, Genny. Genny recently married a Duke, and Winter believes that he's killed her for her money after receiving a note that Genny is missing. He's outraged and hires the due of R & H to go to the town of Rochelle and find Genny (or her body) and kill those responsible.

What I love about this is that whilst we still have the distinct charm of the previous books, it also feels like an easy-to-get-into story for anyone who is newer. It's a sword and sorcery, classic style fantasy, but it's filled with banter and wit and charm. Never is there a dull moment with these characters and the crazy world that they live in, it's all go, go, go.

There's a lot of talk in this book about Unicorns. I have to say this really made me laugh. It's random, but it's fun, and I liked it XD

The character of Genny is actually a very interesting one. She's a lot more complex than your average Duchess because she wants to change things for those around her. Not only is she a business woman at heart and shrewd with money and time, she is also engaging to read about. I have to say I do appreciate a well-rounded female as a prominent character.

However, if we're going into awesome lady characters I can't not mention Evelyn. She's a really, really fun addition to this story as she's an uppity old widow who knows how she likes things and won't take 'but' for an answer. There were plenty of moments in the book where I really thought she was hilarious and great, and she put H & R through their paces a bit too, which was lots of fun.

There's also some really interesting history of the world in this book. I feel like it's possible that having Sullivan working on this series alongside the writing and releasing of his 'Legends of the First Empire' series shows through and we see a lot about how the different early races have evolved and the power of each has shifted and undulated with the years gone by. As I've just recently read the second of the 'Legends of the First Empire' books this really resonated with me.

Overall, another dependably great book which I really enjoyed reading and I would certainly recommend wholeheartedly. 4.5*s from me :)
Profile Image for C.P. Cabaniss.
Author 4 books95 followers
December 19, 2017
"I have a friend and I think about killing him all the time."

"Oh, so you admit it now. We're friends?"

"I never said anything about you. Don't be so presumptuous."

Really, what is there to say that I haven't already highlighted in my reviews of the previous nine Riyria books I've reviewed on goodreads? Not a lot, aside from the fact that these stories never get old. You would think they might lose momentum, but they don't.

This is the fourth installment in the Riyria Chronicles, which is a prequel series to the Riyria Revelations and tells various adventures of Royce and Hadrian before we meet up with them in that series. It also has some great connections with the main series, so there is always something to pick up on aside from the greatness of these two.

Sullivan is excellent at creating great characters. Royce is, and will likely always be, my favorite of his characters, but there isn't a single one that I don't enjoy in some way. This novel introduces several that will likely never show up in any of the other stories, but they were all well rounded and really worked.

If you have read the original Revelations series then you know that this story involves Genny, the Duchess of Rochelle, who was introduced in those stories. And I absolutely loved getting to know her better. She was interesting to me before, but this added a lot of depth to her character that I never would have guessed was there.

And that brings me to another point: Sullivan has the best female characters in fantasy. Seriously, I don't know how he creates them, because I have a hard enough time writing believable women and I'm a woman, but he does an excellent job. And Genny is just another great female added on top of a long list.

If you've enjoyed the other stories with Royce and Hadrian you will likely enjoy this one as well. If you haven't read any of them yet--what are you doing? Go read them now. Right now. Christmas is in a week, ask for the entire set. Just do it now. And fall in love with Royce as much as I have. Hadrian is cool too.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,327 followers
June 16, 2022
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

“That’s how the world works. People are motivated by money, power, security, and . . . well, that’s pretty much it.”

The Crown Tower ★★★★
The Rose & the Thorn ★★★★
The Death of Dulgath ★★★★ 1/4
The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter ★★★ 3/4

In the last 7 months I read all of the 7 Riyria books (10 if you count each book in the omnibuses) and it feels bittersweet because they have become something I look for each month. I always wanted to read Sullivan’s works but I never knew whee to start until I finally decided one day to buy the first trilogy and just start the journey and I never looked back. Sullivan is now one of my favorite authors and I am certainly jumping into his other series soon.

I think after reading so many books with high quality, the roof of my expectations keep getting higher and higher and with the third entry in this series, I kind of expected more out of this particular book. I still enjoyed it a lot but it was my least favorite in the series. I hope the next entry will be better and I know it will.

At this point, there is nothing to add about Sullivan’s writing that I haven’t said before. The structure of the stories, the length, the prose and the humor are all great.

These are stories that I read mainly for the characters and I mean all of the characters and not just Hadrian and Royce. Last book had the most intriguing characters in this particular series and I failed to connect to the secondary characters in this book as much. Hadrian and Royce are still the GOAT and I don’t think I will ever get bored of their interactions but I think if this series continues, the effort should be to flesh out the secondary characters as much as possible.

“Age, she realized with some regret, had diluted her need for perfection.”

Summary: Lovely and immaculate storytelling from Sullivan as usual. I think the only downside to this story is the predictability of the characters and plot. I still enjoyed it very much and will be reading whatever comes next in this series.
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
576 reviews214 followers
August 29, 2017
I was given a beta-version ecopy of this book in exchange for honest, thorough feedback. Note that this is not the final version of the novel and might change significantly before it is published.

But here we are again. The 4th Chronicle, and 10th overall Riyria book does not disappoint. I can't say what happens, other than that it rocks.

If you're a fan of Hadrian and Royce, you will want to read this ASAP.

If you aren't a fan, why not? These books should be consumed immediately.

It's been a few years since I read The Riyria Revelations, but this has me gearing up for a re-read.

I'll re-read this as well once I can, as I'm looking forward to seeing whatever improvements make it to the final version.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,607 reviews1,482 followers
November 22, 2018
This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart

4.5 Stars.
"I have a friend and I think about killing him all the time."
"Oh, so you admit it now. We're friends?"
"I never said anything about you. Don't be so presumptuous."

Haydrian and Royce have one of my favorite Bromances in literature.  They fight and banter and are genuinely hilarious together. Even though both come from bloody and brutal pasts, one has opted to see life for all it could be and the other remains cynical of everyone and everything.  They make up the duo called Riyria, a less than above board service for hire kind of team.
“Reason, truth, innocence" --Royce sat back against the wall and folded his arms--"unicorns, pixies, and dragons; you're not that young to believe in such things. How is it that you fancy yourself a resident of a make-believe world."
"I told you. At this point, it's a choice."
"It's not. It's fooling yourself. I can decide between eating fish or pork, but I can only pretend to eat unicorn meat. I can't actually eat a unicorn. The world is the world, and you live in it with open eyes or choose to be blind. It's all the same to me, but don't stand there pretending your right.”

The interesting thing about The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter is that it is a prequel The Riyria Revelations.  Set approximately ten years before the main series starts. Normally I don’t like it when authors do that. It is really hard to build tension when you know that the main characters will be fine and together later on.  But Sullivan manages to do a great job at it and so I think that while this is more enjoyable if you have read the other series, you do not need to have read them. Each of the prequels is a stand-alone story with a few Easter Eggs for the later series but fantastic all on their own.

Genny, the new Duchess of Rochelle, is missing and presumed dead by her father.  With retribution in mind, Mr. Winter hires Haydrian and Royce to find out what befell his daughter and make those responsible pay with blood.  Which leads Riyria into the city of Rochelle that is on the cusp of revolting.

With every new clue as to what happened to the new Duchess, the duo is more convinced that things are not what they appear and maybe, just maybe, there is a chance they can find the Duchess and stop the Revolt.   With some weird magic happening and superstitions abounding, it will be hard to figure out what is real and what is just superstition.

Hayrain and Royce get better every time I read them and this book made me want to reread the entire main series all over again.  Genny was fantastic in this and I love how full of life she was. She knew exactly who she was and accepted it and made the best out of everything she touched.  She is another strong female character in the world of Riyria and there are many of them.

The Prequels are episodic in nature and so this can be read with no other knowledge of the series.  And just in case you were wondering a few of my other favorite Bromances are Wax and Wayne from the Mistborn series and Tyrion and Bran from Game of Thrones.  
Profile Image for Zoe Artemis Spencer Reid.
490 reviews104 followers
December 21, 2021
After hundreds of books, thousand hours and years, Riyria remains as darling of my heart. As much as books go, there is absolutely nothing more fun and intimate and familiar than being with Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater. They could be hanging around, having their usual argument, and I will feel completely at home.
The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter with it simple idea of a story, but woven with such details and heartfelt presence, is a magic of the best kind.

"Don't let the opinion of the ignorant convince you truth is a lie."
121 reviews57 followers
September 29, 2018
The more I read of Riyria, and the more I read of Michael Sullivan, the more I love these books. There's that comfortable feeling you get when talking to old friends - a feeling that is reinforced by the long history you have with them. And somehow, that's exactly how I feel when I pick up one of these books. I am rarely floored, but there is a level of familiarity that I have with these books that always makes me smile, and keeps me coming back for more time and time again.

Please give these books a chance. Michael Sullivan has become one of the few authors of whom I will read absolutely everything they write. This book has only continued the trend of what I expected to be a flat sub-series of the Riyria Revelations, that turned into a set of brilliant books and characters on all their own.
Profile Image for Krista Hansen Welch.
85 reviews9 followers
January 19, 2018
"Chasing fantasies was a thin thread to justify life, and yet how many wonders had been wrought by people who did exactly that-those who believed in crazy dreams."

Wow, I really enjoyed this one! This is the best of the Riyria Chronicles books yet. I've complained before about the Chronicles series being too mundane, but Sullivan hit the sweet spot this time. He's infused more action and mystery into this novel, making for an enjoyable ride.

Royce and Hadrian are lovable as always. Their banter seems to get better with each book. I don't think I can ever have enough of them. I really enjoy the way Sullivan weaves in the growth of these two characters throughout Chronicles. It can't be easy to spread out character growth over so many novels, but Sullivan manages it skillfully.

Speaking of characters, I was especially engaged by one of the side characters, Genny Winter. She was a wonderfully three-dimensional character that was both inspiring and realistly flawed. Apparently she also shows up in the Revelations series. I just love how this all connects together.

While these books are episodic in nature, I'm loving the small sub-plot connecting through them and I'm dying to see how it turns out. Keep em coming Sullivan!

Profile Image for Audrey.
1,030 reviews164 followers
September 15, 2022
(updated review)

Michael J Sullivan is an auto-buy author for me, one of three. Even though this is book 4 of the Chronicles, you can read this first and be fine. If you have read other Riyria books and Legends of the First Empire, have fun looking for easter eggs.

This adventure takes us to the kingdom of Rochelle, when Riyria is hired to find the missing duchess or avenge her death. All the characters here are great. This place has its own customs and culture that challenge and amuse our heroes. The dialogue between Royce and Hadrian is especially fun in this volume. Royce finally meets his match in the form of an elderly woman. There is great action and suspense balanced with character-building moments. There’s mystery and some surprises, such as Dwarven magic. I think that’s new.

Genny is such a complete character. She is constantly teased about her weight and lower-class mannerisms, but beneath the surface she is smart and resourceful and kind. She is always underestimated.

Reading about Riyria always makes me feel uplifted and refreshed for some reason. It’s an all-around enjoyable reading experience. (I read this book during church instead of paying attention. I suppose I should feel bad about that.)

He had no idea who died, but under different circumstances he might have made a valuable addition to Riyria.
Just as well, he thought. We’d have had to change the name.

“Is this your way of saying you care about me?” …
“This is my way of saying you’re an idiot, and the next time you do something that stupid, I’ll let them kill you.”
Hadrian smiled. “You really like me, don’t you?”
“Shut up.”

Language: Mild
Sexual Content: Some vague innuendo, reference to sex in polite and vague terms
Violence: Somewhat gruesome — bodies are found mutilated with faces and hearts missing. Some people are crushed to death. There are a couple of stabbings.
Harm to Animals:
Harm to Children:
Other (Triggers):
Profile Image for Skylar Phelps.
237 reviews30 followers
July 28, 2020
Who’s my all time favorite fantasy bromance? For two years it’s been a toss up between Wax & Wayne and Royce & Hadrian. Royce & Hadrian just took the lead :)

4.5 Stars!
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,324 reviews153 followers
December 10, 2018
Riyria's job appears easy: discover what happened to the missing duchess and, if she lives, bring her home . . . if not, punish those responsible. But nothing is simple in the crowded, narrow, mist-filled streets of Rochelle, where more than one ancient legend lurks.

This was such a fun read. The story line and the mystery surrounding the city of Rochelle was good and Genny, the duchess was such a likable character. I was rooting for her the whole time and hoping she would get rescued and that the duke really did love her. I won't spoil what happens though.

What I loved the most about this book were the secondary characters. From Genny to Evelyn Hemsworth (I absolutely loved every scene that woman was in, and Royce's reaction to her cracked me up), they were all so very well written. I laughed out loud quite a few times while reading this. Plus the banter between Royce and Hadrian is always entertaining. I cannot think of another book duo that I love more, although Wax and Wayne from Mistborn era 2 come close.

The Death of Dulgath had some nice references to the Legends of the First Empire series and it seemed as though this book hinted at things from the new "bridge series" that is currently being written. I'm excited to see where that series goes. There was one thread left hanging at the end of this book that I'm dying to know more about. Here's hoping we find out more in the next book.

I must say that I'm sad to be caught up on all the Riyria books now, but so glad I read them at the same time. I'm looking forward to reading more in the future.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,030 reviews2,604 followers
December 24, 2017
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/12/23/...

As much as I’m enjoying Michael J. Sullivan’s other series The Legends of the Lost Empire right now, I have to say, nothing quite beats the feeling of coming back to good old Hadrian and Royce. The Riyria Revelations may have concluded years ago, but I swear I will never ever stop loving this awesome duo, and one of the best things the author did for his fans was to continue their legend in a series of standalone prequel stories called the Riyria Chronicles, intended to explore the early years of this partnership.

Like the other books in the series, The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter is a self-contained adventure featuring Hadrian, an idealistic ex-mercenary, and Royce, a cynical former assassin. Approximately three years have passed since the two were first brought together by fate, becoming the clandestine enterprise known as Riyria, selling their services as rogues-for-hire. Their latest client is Gabriel Winter, a wealthy merchant who has traveled a long way to seek out Royce, having heard of his reputation as a ruthless killer. That’s because Winter wants bloody vengeance—six months ago, his daughter Genny was wed to the Duke of Rochelle, a marriage that her father was vehemently against. Now she is missing, presumed dead after her carriage was ambushed on the way back from the market and left in a gore-soaked ruin. Suspecting that the Duke and his people are behind Genny’s death, Winter wants Riyria to put a violent end to those responsible.

Ever the optimistic one, Hadrian is not entirely convinced that Genny is dead, but nevertheless he and Royce agree to travel to Rochelle to investigate and see if they can suss out any information regarding what happened to Winter’s daughter. When they arrive though, they discover an uncooperative and tight-lipped citizenry, cagey about the fact that a couple of outsiders are poking around. The people in this old-world city with its murky history and tangled political relationships don’t seem to want to talk about their missing duchess, and Royce and Hadrian’s line of questioning soon lands them on the receiving end of some unwanted attention.

The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter was another solid entry in the Riyria Chronicles, and I daresay it might even be my favorite of the four books out so far. As a reader, it always amazes me to watch an author’s skill grow over time, and indeed Sullivan’s writing has become a lot more polished since the days of The Riyria Revelations and even when compared to The Crown Tower and The Rose and the Thorn. His stories are also becoming more interesting and complex, as this latest installment shows—proof that this series is showing no signs of slowing down or growing stale. It is truly impressive how Hadrian and Royce’s adventures have stayed so fresh and utterly captivating even after all these years and so many novels.

On the subject of the plot itself, I always love a good mystery, so this book was perfect for me. From the very first chapter, I was trying to figure out what happened and how everyone was involved. Rochelle also made for a compelling setting, with its strict customs and superstitions. It’s a city of extremes where the nobility live in decadent excess, claiming descent from imperial aristocracy, while the Mir and other non-humans scrounge for scraps in dirty alleyways and gutters. Royce and Hadrian arrive in town during the festival in which a new king will be crowned, so the inns and taverns are also full to bursting and the streets are packed day and night. Despite the atmosphere of revelry, however, the tensions in the air are palpable, with undercurrents of hopelessness, anger, and resentment. Hats off to Sullivan for managing to capture this soupy mélange of chaos and confusion, using descriptive prose to arouse vivid imagery in the readers’ minds so that we are transported right into the heart of Rochelle.

But of course, no review of a Riyria novel would be complete without mentioning the relationship between Hadrian and Royce. It’s the essence of this series, after all, and when The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter begins, the boys are just starting to get used to working as a team. Minor personality clashes aside, they’ve become accustomed to each other’s styles, with genuine fondness to be gleaned from their banter even during disagreements. There are some great moments in this book where we get to see their bond strengthen, with trust forming as they learn to depend on one another and watch each other’s backs.

Overall, I couldn’t have been more pleased with this newest addition to the chronicle. Fans of Riyria, I guarantee you will not be disappointed! Not only is this another prequel novel done right, I believe it to be the strongest of the bunch. Even after four books, there’s still so much potential in this series for more exciting and new adventures, and I hope Michael J. Sullivan will continue to keep these Hadrian and Royce stories coming for those of us who simply can’t get enough.

Audiobook Comments: There’s no doubt that Tim Gerard Reynolds is the voice of Riyria. Once again, he delivers a fine performance, capturing the novel’s humor and heart with his pitch-perfect narration. He’s the main reason I opted to listen to the audiobook even though I’ve had the ebook version for weeks now, because I know anytime he reads a Michael J. Sullivan book, it will be awesome. Glad I was right!
Profile Image for Nimrod Daniel.
143 reviews258 followers
June 19, 2021
Another fun adventure with Royce and Hadrian!
Royce and Hadrian's chapters were quite good (almost) just as always with good banter, but chapters from other POVs were mostly not as good. it's enjoyable when they're around but less interesting when we see other characters' point of view.

Overall the plot was nice, but not much more than that. The pacing was quite uneven, while the second half (or even last third) had a good pacing, the first half was quite slow.
Actually the more I get familiar with the Chronicles I come to an understanding what they're all about - telling nice stories from Royce and Hadrian's past, which is quite interesting and definitely would appeal to any fan of Revelations, but they're not as compelling as Revelations and their scope is quite small .

An enjoyable read that would appeal to Royce and Hadrian fans
Profile Image for Rob.
848 reviews535 followers
December 18, 2017
Executive Summary: This book ended pretty strong after a bit of a slow start. Another fun Riyria story.

Audiobook: Tim Gerard Reynolds once again his usual excellent job. He is the voice of Royce and Hadrian to me. I was really happy that I could get the audiobook as part of the kickstarter, because for me it's the ONLY way to enjoy Riyria books.

I should note there appeared to be a few edits, that made for some noticeable changes in the quality of the audiobook. It's hard to describe exactly. The best I can say is the volume/cadence of Mr. Reynold abruptly changes for a short period of time then changes back.

Full Review
We are now 10 books into the Riyria series (4th prequel). It's been a few years now since I read most of the books and details are starting to escape me. Luckily like most books this is largely stand alone.

Mr. Sullivan tries to make all of his Riyria books readable without doing them all. Of course I still recommend against it. In fact if nothing else this book further makes me want to do a reread so I can refresh myself on some of the important details that show up as easter eggs/rewards to longtime Riyria readers.

I really enjoyed the character of Ginny (aka the Winter's Daughter). I also really enjoyed the old window that they rented a room from. In general though, I thought that all of the supporting characters were pretty good.

I thought the banter of Royce and Handrian were as good as usual, and I liked their interplay with some of the others as well. It's one of the things that makes these books so much fun.

Despite a slower start, this book had a really good place at the end, including a pretty cool battle scene that was unlike anything in the previous books.

Overall, this is a decent addition to the Riyria cannon, though far from my favorite. If you're a fan of the series, you should pick this up. If haven't read them before, I highly recommend giving Theft of Swords a shot.
Profile Image for Jenna Kathleen.
117 reviews120 followers
December 7, 2018
As always, it was great to be back with Riyria. This is the fourth book in the prequel series of Riyria so I can't say too much without giving away elements of the series, but Hadrian and Royce are as hilarious as ever in this book.

Evelyn Hemsworth was the real scene-stealer in this book and every time she was even mentioned, I couldn't help but smile. I love the way MJS writes characters; everyone - heroes, villains, big roles, small roles - has a very distinct personality, even after all the books he has written in the same world.

Tim Gerard Reynolds, one of my favourite audiobook narrators, really brings the world of Hadrian and Royce to life and once I got into it, I couldn't put the book down.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,494 reviews962 followers
May 6, 2019
[extra star for me being a fan of the series]

"It has been this way for centuries," the girl said.
"Yes, it has, but spring is coming. Trust me. Spring is coming."

The city of Rochelle in the south of Elan is getting ready to celebrate the end of winter and to choose a new king (after the previous holder of the title and his whole family were killed during a sea voyage). Yet for many of its inhabitants, Rochelle is a place of despair, a place of rampant persecution and of hatred of the 'lesser' races by the majority of the local population. The Calians from across the sea (a merchant class), the dwarves (stonemasons and ironmongers) and the mir/elves (beggars) are denied basic rights and forced to a life of strife and poverty.

People have a lot of preconceptions about my kind. We're not what you think, you know. We didn't cause the destruction of the empire. We aren't lazy or stupid, nor are we abominations. We don't carry disease, aren't cannibals, don't steal babies or worship Uberlin. We're the same as everyone else, except more destitute because the rest of society hates us. They keep us dirty and desperate, and then condemn us as if we chose our circumstance.

The winds of change / spring come to Rochelle in the unlikely form of Royce and Hadrian, hired by a wealthy merchant to investigate the kidnapping of his only daughter and, if necessary, to kill everybody involved. As this is the fourth episodic installment of the adventures of the Riyria fellowship and the tenth overall story in this timeline, I pretty much knew what to expect and wasn't disappointed, especially as I read most of the novel at the beach during a holiday in Crete.

Clear exposition, fast pace, likable characters and snappy dialogues more than compensate for a rather thin plot and a slight 'preachiness' in the codemnation of rasism. A message I quite agree with, but in this case it kind of overpowers the actual story. Although the ending is a lot stronger than the first half of the novel would suggest.

A story that is designed to be read as a standalone, but that I would anyway recommend to be tried after reading the previous adventures of Royce and Hadrian, as I don't consider it right now to be the strongest offering so far. More like candy for those already having a sweet tooth for Elan and its denizens.
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Profile Image for Claudia.
954 reviews535 followers
May 4, 2018
Charming as the others; it’s always a delight to read the adventures and, on top, the prattle of my favorite couple:
“Is this your way of saying you care about me?”
Royce continued his Evelyn Hemsworth impersonation by displaying an I-can’t-believe-you-really-exist expression. “This is my way of saying you’re an idiot, and the next time you do something that stupid, I’ll let them kill you.”
Hadrian smiled. “You really like me, don’t you?”
“Shut up.”
“I feel bad now,” Hadrian said. “I didn’t get you anything for Spring Day.”
Royce walked faster, shaking his head as he moved forward.
We follow them in their quest to find the daughter of Gabriel Winter, Genny,

Full of fun, action and magic, it was a real pleasure to read. Too bad it ended so fast and I don’t have any more Riyria books to read, damn…
Profile Image for SarahBeth.
170 reviews20 followers
August 28, 2017
I was privileged to be a beta reader for this. It's probably a 4.5 at this point with just a few niggly bits that need to be cleaned up. Michael is a master of the witty dialogue and twisty plot bits. I found myself wishing this was already in print so I could share all the good parts with family and friends. So many, many great lines.

Hadrian really shines in this volume of the Chronicles. He gets some of the best page time and managed to make me laugh more than once with some of the things he tells Royce. So many fun minor characters that I hope we see again at some point. Evelyn is a gem!

Can't wait to see the final version. Hope it's in print soon.
Profile Image for Kaora.
568 reviews281 followers
October 29, 2018
These books are my guilty pleasure. Every time I get to revisit my old friends Royce and Hadrian I get so happy.
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