TS Chan's Reviews > The Crown Tower

The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: dr-reading-challenge, favorites, re-read, audiobook, physical-owned
Read 3 times. Last read April 17, 2021 to April 20, 2021.

If ever there was a prequel story which I thought was perfection, The Crown Tower absolutely fit the bill.

"Old lunatic was right...We did make a good team."

And thus a legend was born! I love origins stories of beloved characters and few are more beloved to me than the two foremost and main characters in the Riyria series. Hadrian Blackwater, a noble and idealistic mercenary soldier. Royce Melborn, a dangerous and cynical thief. With such polar opposite personalities, you know that sparks are going to fly (the wrong way) when they meet each other for the first time, what more being coerced to work together on an impossible mission.

Just halfway through The Riyria Revelations I was already tempted to read The Crown Tower which fleshes out the back-story of how this legendary dynamic duo came together. Their banter and friendly bickering were so entertaining that I can only imagine how delightful it is to read their initial encounter when they despised each other. However, I was advised by a couple of experienced readers to finish Revelations first and I’m thankful for that. I’ve not read many prequels before and with hindsight I find that reading this prequel really was more fun to read AFTER knowing what happened in Revelations.

Firstly, I appreciated that we get a lot more of the main characters on a highly personal level, this being their origins story after all. As expected, reading their initial interaction was pure delight. They were still very much the Hadrian and Royce that we know of and love, but each yet to be tempered by the other’s qualities, so to speak.

Secondly, we finally have the backstory of Gwen DeLancy. While she did not appear all that much in Revelations, her role in the series was significant. In The Crown Tower, Gwen’s story provided a darker note to the overarching narrative in a most compelling manner. As a foreign woman in a time and place where females were greatly marginalized, her strength, determination and intelligence shone through most admirably. And I've to say this time and again, Sullivan positively excels in writing great female characters, and Gwen was most definitely one of them.

Thirdly, the sly old fox, Arcadius. 'Nuff said save for the last couple of lines of the book;
"We've planted the seeds. All we can do now is wait and see what grows."

While every reader who loved The Riyria Revelations will most likely love this book as well, it also serves as a solid stand-alone which is testament to the author's storytelling skills.  This was a very entertaining tale in a classic fantasy setting, told in a modern voice.  What's even better than before was Sullivan's prose as his writing had improved noticeably since his debut series.

And as a side note to Michael, you don’t ever have to worry about Hadrian and Royce overstaying their welcome. I just can’t get enough of them!

You can purchase the book from Book Depository (Free Shipping) | Bookshop.Org (Support Independent BookstoresAmazon US | Amazon UK
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Quotes TS Liked

Michael J. Sullivan
“Royce saw to his horse’s needs; then, finding a suitable place, he unrolled his blanket and lay down.

“I take it we’re camping here, then?”

Royce said nothing, still refusing to acknowledge his existence.

“You could have said, ‘We’re going to bed down here for the rest of the night.’ No, wait, you’re right, too much. How about ‘sleeping here’? Two words. Even you could manage that, right? I mean, I know you can talk. You had plenty to say back in Arcadius’s office. Couldn’t keep the words from coming out then, but no, utterly impossible to indicate in any way that we’ll be stopping here for the night.”

Hadrian dismounted and began unloading Dancer. “How long were we on the road?” He paused to look up at the moon. “What? Five, six hours? Not a damn word. Getting chilly out, don’t you think, Hadrian? Moon looks like a fingernail, ain’t that right, Hadrian? That tree looks like a goddamn bear, don’t it, Hadrian? Nothing. By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, I was attacked by a goshawk and a pig-riding dwarf that shot eggs at me with a sling. I was knocked from my horse and wrestled with the dwarf, the hawk, and the pig for what had to be half an hour. The dwarf kept smashing eggs in my face, and that ruddy pig pinned me down, licking them off. I only got away because the dwarf ran out of eggs. Then the hawk turned into a moth that became distracted by the light of the moon.”
Royce shifted to his side, hood up.

“Yeah, well … thank Maribor and Novron I didn’t need your help that time.”

“Didn’t care for my help too much in the stable,” Royce said.

“It speaks!”
Michael J. Sullivan, The Crown Tower

Michael J. Sullivan
“Each killing steals a bit of humanity until a murderer is nothing more than an animal. A hunger replaces the spirit. A want for what was lost, but as with innocence, the soul can never be replaced. Joy, love, and peace flee such a vessel and in their stead blooms a desire for blood and death.”
Michael J. Sullivan, The Crown Tower


Reading Progress

May 21, 2015 – Shelved
May 21, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
May 31, 2015 – Started Reading
June 2, 2015 – Shelved as: dr-reading-challenge
June 2, 2015 – Finished Reading
January 6, 2016 – Shelved as: favorites
May 15, 2016 – Shelved as: re-read
May 17, 2016 –
9.0% ""Excuse me," Hadrian said, and the man turned partway but not far enough to reveal features, not even a nose. "My name is Hadrian Blackwater."\n "Congratulations." The reply was as cold as the wind that carried it."
May 18, 2016 – Started Reading
May 19, 2016 –
32.0% ""You didn’t answer me. Do you expect to attend this school?” \n “Naw—already graduated.” The young man looked stunned. “From Sheridan?” \n Hadrian shook his head and grinned. “Different school. Easier to get into but literally murder to pass."\n \n Hehehe.."
May 19, 2016 –
41.0% ""Well, that explains it, then."\n Royce smiled. "I'm starting to like him."\n "And I don't trust you," Hadrian said. \n Royce nodded approvingly. "That's the smartest thing I've heard you say yet. You might be right, old man. I think I've already been a good influence on him.""
May 20, 2016 –
43.0% ""That was pathetic.” \n “You’re enjoying this a little too much for me to think you’re honestly trying to help.” \n “Trust me. I want you to improve. I want you to fall from much higher up.”\n \n Hahaha.. this is shaping up to be as fun as I hoped."
May 20, 2016 –
58.0% "“It was possible you might have surprised me and actually taken Hadrian with you the first time.” Surprise stole over Royce’s face and Hadrian watched as a reluctant smile slowly appeared. “Yes, dear boy,” Arcadius said. “I’m not as foolish as I look, and you’re not that hard to predict."\n \n Oh yes, Arcadius was a sly and cunning one."
May 22, 2016 –
73.0% "“Hold your nose and try not to scream. This is going to hurt." "Probably only for a second." "Always the optimist, aren't you?" "Jump already!" "Okay, set?" "Yes." "One... two.." "Before I die, please." Hahaha! I love this last 25% which forged what will eventually become Riyria."
May 22, 2016 – Finished Reading
June 8, 2016 – Shelved as: audiobook
March 22, 2018 – Shelved as: physical-owned
April 17, 2021 – Started Reading
April 20, 2021 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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Layla ✷ Praise the sun ✷ I approve of your can't get enough of Hadrian and Royce comment. They are awesome. Especially Royce for me ;)


Eon ♒Windrunner♒  Yep. I actually sent MJS a mail asking him to never stop writing Riyria stories.

@Laylan Ditto on the Royce.


message 3: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan I simply can't choose between the two of them. Royce is truly fascinating and I love his dry sense of humour. Meanwhile, Hadrian is such a darling and I have a huge crush on him. The both of them, however, are at their best when they're working together.


Layla ✷ Praise the sun ✷ It's really hard to choose between them, TS, but I always had a thing for the sneaky rogue / assassin types.


message 5: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan @Layla, Speaking of which, how are you doing with the Revelations series? Haven't seen your updates for awhile.


Eon ♒Windrunner♒  Oh and great review BTW TS :)


Justyna Great review! The Crown Tower was my introduction to Riyria and first M. Sullivan's book I've ever read. So I am the one who started from Chronicles and moved to Revelations then (except for Death of Dulgath) and it worked just fine for me. The only reason I didn't re-read this book with BB&B is that I have too many books to read right now and already two re-reads...besides I'm discovering Mistborn right now:)


message 8: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan Eon ♒Windrunner♒ & part-time Warder ☯ wrote: "Oh and great review BTW TS :)"

Thanks Eon! ;)


message 9: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan Justyna wrote: "Great review! The Crown Tower was my introduction to Riyria and first M. Sullivan's book I've ever read. So I am the one who started from Chronicles and moved to Revelations then (except for Death ..."

Thanks Justyna! I guess that's the beauty of MJS' writing that both the prequel and main series can be read either way and it's still great.


message 10: by TS (last edited May 23, 2016 05:24AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan Oh and hope you're enjoying Mistborn. Noticed that you've moved on to Bands of Mourning already.


Orient Amazing review, TS :))) The more of Riyria - the better :)


Marilyn I’m reading this now, and I totally agree! I’ve ordered the other three.


message 13: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan Marilyn wrote: "I’m reading this now, and I totally agree! I’ve ordered the other three."

Yes, I'm glad you think so - and I've reread this one twice already haha. Enjoy reading!!


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