Review: Percepliquis by Michael J. Sullivan

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Last summer, when I purchased “The Crown Conspiracy” for my Kindle, I appreciated that it was structured as a stand-alone fantasy novel, whose characters avoided many of the archetypal shortcomings. I thought that fantasy as a genre needed more of what Mr. Sullivan was delivering with The Crown Conspiracy and I tore through the novel like an alcoholic through whiskey. I didn’t think I wanted another fantasy epic; but how could I have known that Elan, the world in which the novels that compose the Riyria Revelations is set, would be the most memorable world in recent years?

And so, as Percepliquis’ tagline rightly declares, it has all come down to this: An unstoppable army of elves has crossed the Nidwalden, the traditional border between the human and elven nations. Mankind’s reborn Empire is buckling beneath the strain of the invasion and a team of adventurers is sent to the lost city of Percepliquis. If they can’t retrieve the Horn of Gylindora from the tomb of Novron, the mythical founder of the first Empire, then all is lost.

That about sums up the basic plot of Percepliquis, however what goes unsaid in the tagline and plot summary is the sheer emotional vitality of this book. Of course we learn about the Uli Vermar, and about Gaunt’s role as the heir, and about the horrible things Esrahaddon did to keep Novron’s bloodline alive. But what’s most important is that Percepliquis offers a stunning final chapter to a group of characters who are so fully realized that parting with them is bittersweet. Of foremost interest are Modina, Arista, and Royce; characters that have been thoroughly developed with unique voices and fascinating perspectives, bringing joy and grief to the narrative in their own impressive (and addicting) ways. That’s not to say there isn’t a cacophony of other voices in Percepliquis, which is a novel that reintroduces nearly every other side character in the previous books. While distracting at times, this impressive array of characters broadens the novel’s scope and reassures readers that, yes, the world is on the line and that, yes, the world will end if Royce, Hadrian, and the others don’t succeed.

Without a doubt Percepliquis’ most victorious moments have everything to do with the sequences in the forgotten capital–as it was a treat to see a fragment of the old Empire, to see and hear its story firsthand for a change. As always, great dialogue continues to be one of Mr. Sullivan’s most striking successes, which only ramps up as the novel speeds towards its finish. Brilliantly realized in their conversations and thoughts, the voices of the characters are the truest sign that we’ll be saying goodbye to Elan soon enough, a stronger indicator than any apocalyptic battle. Yet, Percepliquis accomplishes all the hallmarks of a lovingly crafted grand finale to the best fantasy series of the new decade: shedding new light on old lore, testing old characters in new ways, and challenging everyone to craft the future they want for themselves.

Having completed Percepliquis, the crown jewel of the Riyria Revelations, I entrust the series to new readers who will hopefully discover it in the omnibus versions available through Orbit. I view the presence of the individual eBook versions on my Kindle as a mark of pride. I experienced the Riyria Revelations. How could I have known that I’d miss them this much when they were over?

Bravo–and long live the Empress!

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