Michael J. Sullivan – Avempartha

The second book of the Riyria Revelations, a fantasy series in the tradition of Raymond E. Feist, by Michael J. Sullivan, is Avempartha (2009). Albeit some minor flaws I enjoyed the first book pretty much, although the series has a more Young Adult audience, making various elements more simplistic. Compared to other Young Adult series like Harry Potter and Abhorsen (by Garth Nix), which I enjoyed a lot, real deeper layers are few or only lightly touched, and the level of complexity, especially compared to those other series, is very low in scope. So it all boils down to the story and characters. In the first book Sullivan managed those quite well, but unfortunately continuing into another story they start to lack originality and complexity.

Avempartha is a rather more straightforward story. There are some minor twists, but they are not much out of the ordinary. It is a bit too light-hearted and easy going, although it could be I read too much darker and grittier fantasy that I am simply not used to it anymore. It is this what makes me classify it as Young Adult, this novel much more than the previous one. The good guys are supposed to be criminals, but they often act too kind, caring and honorable. This character set is put out of place compared to the first novel and it is not for the good.

Although Sullivan didn’t show great skill in his dialogues I noticed it to be worse compared to the still quite decent first novel. They seem too forced or clumsy at times and lack a natural flow. Worse is that the characters are simply too talkative. They don’t simply say things they shouldn’t, they even try to tell more than necessary and everyone bares with it. It also doesn’t seem to matter who they are talking to, a noble man, a knight or a farmer. The behavior is a quite the same everywhere. This is certainly the case for the bad guys. They seem rather stupid and like to talk about there plans too openly, even when there are bystanders in the same room who are not into the secrets. Secrecy seems a big problem. I am quite accustomed to characters hardly saying something useful, only leaving hints that leave you guessing about what the real story is. No, these characters simply like to tell you as much as possible, just in case you couldn’t have guessed it.

So now my review of Avempartha seems to be pretty bad. To be honest it wasn’t always that awful. The parts with less dialogue (and few bad guys) and more action worked out quite well, although I have to add that there is not that much serious action. It is still a fairly easy read, but being targeting a Young Adult audience this should be the case for accessibility. A friendly fantasy with some decent moments is all I can make of it. Not really my kind of novel. Unfortunately I did buy the next two-novel omnibus, so I will continue anyways. A weaker second novel doesn’t mean the third one can’t be more like the first. An author usually grows and develops. My enthusiasm does have slackened somewhat. The right audience will probably enjoy it much, so I can understand the many positive reviews, although I consider them to be somewhat misleading and certainly overrated.

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