This is the 4th Hadrian and Royce novel in the Riyria Chronicles and I do hope that Sullivan keeps making more. I just can’t seem to get enough of these 2. This time they’re hired to figure out what happened too Genny Winter, and of course, things aren’t exactly straightforward.

Story

The story is your standard Riyria chronicle. They get hired for a specific job, but all specifics seem to go out the window when they figure out that there’s more to the situation than meets the eye. Although it isn’t a very complex story, it’s a pleasant enough read which puts some heavy emphasis on social issues in a multi-cultural society. As usual, with Hadrian & Royce, there’s never a dull moment

World-Building

With every book in this series, Sullivan manages to put a spotlight on a different aspect of Elan. This time we meet the city of Rochelle. A harbour city which is in heavy denial about its multi-cultural character. Where your average medieval fantasy city only has a strict nobles vs plebs hierarchy, the inhabitants of Rochelle have added dwarfs, mir (half elven, half human) and Calians (dark-skinned foreigners) to that list as bottom-feeders. That part of the population, despite making up more than half of it, is barely tolerated and considered less than cattle. They can’t craft or sell anything and aren’t really allowed to buy food either. Basically they shouldn’t even be alive, as far as the ‘human’ side of the population is concerned. I have to admit that the picture of Rochelle is painted really vivid and it makes sense too.

Characters

Once again, it’s not the story that carries this book, but the characters. As you would expect, Hadrian and Royce take the main stage, and do this with gusto. Their constant back-and-forth on world-views is highly entertaining. But apart from our 2 heroes, we have a very adequate secondary cast. Special mentions go to Evelyn Hemsworth, as the long-lost mother they never had and Genny Winter herself, for not being a ditsy Princess Duchess.

Writing

As we’re used to from Sullivan, the writing is nice and solid once again. The quips and the banter feel alive and make for many a chuckle while still being able to convey the seriousness of the situation and creating suspenseful prose.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this book, but I feel like 5 stars would not be fair to other books I’ve rated that. I’m not sure why, but something about this just says “really liked it” and not “it was amazing”. Maybe I’m just getting older more experienced? It might be that. If I’m being honest with myself, I have to admit that while their discussions on world-views are completely right, they only scrape the surface and never get anywhere profound, like for example books like Too like the Lightning does. But as far as Royce & Hadrian stories go, this one is again right on the money.

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