What can I say about Riyria? Well for starters they are 100% complete
and utter win. Okay, maybe I can’t say that for sure since I only just started reading, Theft of Swards; the first Volume in the Riyria Revelations series, but it does look that way.
Riyria Revelations are three novels within the Epic Fantasy genre written by Michael J Sullivan. They were published by Orbits Books in 2011 and 2012, but they were around long before that since they were self-published by Sullivan and were originally six volumes. Once Orbits began publishing Riyria, six became three and these books are incredibly long. Harry Potter can eat it’s dust. By the way when Riyria Revelations was self-published it sold 90,000 copies, thus proving that anyone who says self-publishing is a waste of time or stupid can go to hell.
I’m not going to start talking about the Riyria books until I’m at least finished with ‘Theft of Swords and knee deep in the second Volume, Rise of Empire. But I am going to talk about the Short story that got me interested in the series, The Jester.
Originally written for the ‘Unfettered’ Anthology, a compilation of short stories by some of the biggest names in Epic Fantasy. It was made to help fellow writer, Shawn Speakman, pay his medical bills. At the time Speakman had battled and survived cancer. He had the disease previously and apparently this meant that he couldn’t get health insurance. One would think that him beating cancer was a good thing and helping a man fight for his life would better than kicking him when he’s down but what do I know I’m just a human being who writes articles about books that I’ve read on the internet and not politician nor a doctor. Anyway out of this came ‘Unfettered’ and while I am happy for the anthology, I am sad that it came to be under such unfortunate conditions. I do hope to find and read it some day.
So The Jester was among these high fantasy stories, it is part of the prequel series named The Riyria Chronicles and takes place after the last book ‘ Rose and Thorn’ from Chronicles and before the first book ‘Theft of Swords’ from Revelations. Sullivan himself states that readers don’t need to read the Riyria Series to jump into The Jester. It is a stand alone story and was made to be enjoyed by readers fully. That’s cool but I kind of wish it was attached to the previous books because I would love to have seen the character of Wilma in the main book for reasons I’ll make clear when we get to the characters.
The story begins the way all stories should begin, with the characters falling to their deaths. They are Royce, Hadrian, Wilma and Ms annoying herself, Moira. Of course she is the only female character in this story and is the most annoying. She is a middle aged woman who thinks she is some kind of treasure hunting warrior and decides everyone is wrong and an idiot except for her. Oh joy. Yes she annoys me to no end. I might as well call her Ms Irritating, and I shall.
Hitting the bottom our characters survive by falling into freezing cold water. Hadrian, who we follow throughout this story surfaces, looks around for Royce and we are fully introduced to the characters. Hadrian and Royce already know each other, Wilma is a Pig Farmer and Moira is a bitch, even Hadrian think so.
Hadrian is injured, so is Wilma, Royce shows concern for Hadrian and says screw y’all to the rest of them. We see that Royce is more likely to kill a man than help him, while Hadrian is more likely to help the man first. He tells Royce to save the pig farmer and Ms Irritating since it is clear they both don’t know how to swim, when Royce refuses Hadrian says ‘fine I will’ to which Royce replies’ To what? Drown?’ rightly pointing out that Hadrian is in no shape to help anyone and he should concentrate on saving himself. Royce follows his friend’s request and goes to save Wilma leaving Ms Irritating to her doom.
Oh, how I wish that was true but he saves her too.
Hadrian makes it to shore – or land and we get a bit more development for Royce, like I said he is more likely to kill a man than help him and if money was involved, once it ran out or did not cover any extra work they were doing. You would not get Royce to care any more. He would simply leave you in the middle of the job and either you had pay him more or do it yourself. Ms Irritating is the one who hired Riyria and Royce was not happy about the danger they were now subject to. We are also introduced to the map and hinted to the Jester. We are told that they were a week into their adventure, they were out of a food and if it wasn’t for Royce they would all be dead. We are told a little more about Wilma and Ms Irritating, Wilma is not the bravest of characters and Hadrian even comments that he could not even walk without tripping over his feet.
Now we get to why I love The Jester and Riyria series. The interaction between Hadrian and Royce is nothing more than pure gold. They play off each other extremely well. This isn’t a one time thing, it happens through out the whole story and in ‘Theft of Swords’. I could listen to them speak to each other for hours, just listen to Hadrian say something witty and hear Emo cynic Royce reply with an equal measure of sarcastic wit. I love it.
Then my love is broken when Ms Irritating speaks, asking a very stupid question. Of course no one answers her, we get more development and the story goes on. A loud banging causes them to run towards a locked door and Royce quickly picks the lock, making me think he might be the long lost father of ‘Thief’ Protagonist Garrett. Upon entering the room, Royce locks them inside before what chased them could get to them. Ms Irritating proves to be useless, She is the widow of a candle maker, the room is dark. Wilma asks her to light a fire, to which she replies that everything she had was wet, only seconds later Royce lights a fire and although apparently everything she had was wet, she pulls out candles and begins to start lighting them. What a lazy mother fu-.
We are introduced to The Jester once more and told that he is a Dwarf, who made a map to a great treasure and stored it in the mountain they were currently in. Make a Honeydew of Khaz Modan, digging hole joke here and let’s move on. At each place the map took them to they had chooses to make to survive. They were currently in such a room. They were presented with a three choices’ a lever, a chest and a door. Wilma chooses the door, Ms irritating being the greedy person she is chooses the chest and Hadrian and Royce are undecided.
If you are interested in finding out how the short story ends, you’ll have to look for the ‘Unfettered’ anthology. I haven’t spoilt any thing here, there is a lot more to find out like, who was The Jester and why he made the map. Wilma’s back story and so much more. It is really worth reading if you want a taste of the Riyria series.
It is well written and the characters are very well developed for this short story. Wilma is seen as a coward always panicking and screaming loudly. I love Wilma, he’s very lovable even when he’s annoying the other characters. He’s like an annoying friend who is so stupid that you can’t help but laugh at their antics and love them none the less. I honestly wished that he was in the rest of the series, because he has been panicking for a reason. The whole time he was complaining and screaming and being annoying, he had an arrow in his side. Now that is hardcore in my book.
Ms irritating or Moira is annoying and the other characters know it. She tries to put the blame on Royce and Wilma for anything that was clearly her fault, but they never took it from her. My favourite part of the book is when they first meet Moira, she starts with 8 bags filled with crap like make up, uncomfortable shoes and comfortable shoes expecting the boys to carry them for her. She had to leave 7 of them behind when they told her to go screw herself.
Royce and Hadrian are the reason why I’m reading the rest of the Riyria series, as I said before the two are perfectly matched in wit and caring for each other. Out of the four they are the most competent. Hadrian is a witty, well spoken man, who cares for others. Mostly showing great respect and admiration for his friend and business partner Royce.
Royce is the more serious of the two, only joking when Hadrian does. He really doesn’t care for Wilma or Ms Irritating. Although money is the primary reason he and Hadrian were on this adventure, his patience quickly runs out when he and his friend are put in danger due to Ms Irritating and Wilma’s stupidity.
As a stand alone story, ‘The Jester’ is very engaging, the characters do pulled me in and made me interested in the rest of the series. I suggest checking it out if you can get your hand on the ‘Unfettered’ Anthology. You can also listen to the audio book for free on Audible.com or Audible.co.uk.