The Legends of the First Empire 02: Age of Swords

The Legends of the First Empire 02: Age of Swords

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?

The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.

Goodreads, Synopsis

Reviews of Previous Books in the Series

  1. Age of Myth

Review

**Recap alert—spoilers for book 1**

Book one ended in what was, at least for me, unexpected. There was a short conversation between Malcolm and Nyphron (leader of the Galantians), which held some mystery. It is clear Malcolm isn’t quite what he seems to be—a run-of-the-mill slave—and Nyphron has a potentially dark plan in motion. Also, at the end of Age of Myth was the battle between Gryndal and Arion, in which Gryndal was killed, by Arion, in front of Mawyndulë, the heir to the Fhrey throne. Arion allowed Mawyndulë to leave and return home, to what consequence, we do not know, and it appears Arion will now likely be an outcast, will she side with the Rhunes (humans) in a potential war? A couple more notes for the recap: Persephone was elevated to First Chair—Chief of Clan Rhen, and the Galantians—elite band of (mostly) Fhrey warriors—hunted by the Fhrey as traitors, have taken refuge in Dhal Rhen.

As with the previous book, and all books in this series, the writing is very accessible, easy to digest, and vivid. Things move quickly in the early chapters of Age of Swords. We are rapidly introduced to the Dherg (Rhune name for dwarfs), though the Dherg refer to themselves as Belgriclungreians, and Grenmorian (giants). We did meet Grygor, a Grenmorian and galantian, in Age of Myth, but we learn more about then in Age of Swords.

With war appearing all but inevitable, Persephone wants to protect her people and will seek out any and all help. She plans to bring all Rhune clans together to talk and, hopefully, appoint a Keenig—one Rhune leader to unite the clans under. Quite a challenge given the hatred some clans possess of each other. This leads her and her people on a journey across the land to meet with other clans, assuming they heed her invitation for all clans to meet.

Persephone also travels to Neith, home of the Dherg, with a small band of her faithful companions—most were side-characters in Age of Myth but become more prominent in Age of Swords, to my delight. These characters are excellent. Moya, who is brash, is balance by Brin, a sort of surrogate sister, who is reserved and has an excellent memory—necessary for somebody training to be a Keeper of the Ways. Roan and Gifford are somewhat awkward characters, but brilliant. Roan doesn’t speak much and is afraid of contact, having been a slave, is highly intelligent, an engineer, able to invent and see things others cannot. Finally, Gifford is an expert pottery maker, probably the best around, but has been teased, bullied and beaten all his life for his disability and speech impediment. It makes for an unlikely band of adventurers, yet one that works well. I love all these characters and I haven’t even discussed Suri, Minna (her wolf) or Arion.

“It’s easier to believe the most outlandish lie that confirms what you suspect than the most obvious truth that denies it.”

Fenelyus

If you read my review of Age of Myth, you’d know I loved Suri. She’s quirky and different. Runs around with no shoes on, loves nature, can talk to animals and trees, her best friend is a wolf, she’s afraid of tight spaces, dislikes being indoors, and she is able to use the Art—a Rhune using the Art! Burdens, which I will not discuss (spoilers), fall on Suri in Age of Swords and you can’t help but feel for her. She does, however, develop a bond with Arion, who is determined to teach her to use the Art and becomes somewhat of a sister and mother. You can probably surmise from discussing the characters that female characters are a great strength of this series.

Speaking of the Art, it is in this book where you learn more about it and understand why it is called the Art. It’s not up there with the magic system of Mistborn and Lightbringer, but it is a solid, hard, magic system. Those who can use the Art effectively pull on the chords of creation, but I’ll leave it to the book to explain it to you.

Age of Swords isn’t only focussed on the Rhunes, as with Age of Myth we spend plenty of time in Estramnadon, where the political landscape continues to unravel and Mawyndulë finds himself in with a group radical Miralyith, believers in Gryndal’s rhetoric that Miralyith are above all other Fhrey clans.

Overall, if you read Age of Myth and enjoyed it, you need to read Age of Swords. If you haven’t read either but enjoy reading fantasy, I’d recommend you add this series to your TBR.

Although men were strong like rocks, any stone could crack. Women were more like water. They nurtured life and could shape the hardest granite through unrelenting determination. Persephone had always felt the women of Rhen were a tough lot, more durable, more resilient than its men. They were the ones who carried on, who picked up the pieces whether the battle had been won or lost.