The Emerald Storm: Fighting makes up for shaky drama

Michael J. Sullivan The Riyria Revelations 1. The Crown Conspiracy 2. Avempartha 3. Nyphron Rising 4. The Emerald Stormfantasy novel reviews Michael J. Sullivan The Emerald StormThe Emerald Storm by Michael J. Sullivan

This is supposed to be the Riyria’s last mission: to put an end to the master assassin/spy Merrick Marius’ assistance to the Imperialists. With no idea where to find him, Royce and Hadrian disguise themselves as sailors in order to board the Emerald Storm, which is the ship believed to be delivering a message to Merrick.

Sullivan has stepped up the action even more for his 4th book about Royce and Hadrian, the professional thieves known as the Riyria. As they sail the Emerald Storm, unknown enemies conspire against them. Raiders hound the ship’s wake and their destination is the jungle islands just past the edge of civilized world, where warrior tribes and outlaw bands plot to ally themselves with the Imperialists. And, their goal now just within their grasp, Thrace’s Princesses Arista and Amilia intensify their scheme to free the rebel leader Degan Gaunt.

So far, The Emerald Storm is my favorite book of the series. There are a few elements reminiscent of classic adventure literature, a who-done-it mystery, a pirate tale, and a thriller-type plot twist or two. I particularly enjoyed the warrior-tribe culture of the land of Calis.

As with all these books, parts might be just a little over-the-top, and there are few things, like the system of magic, that veteran fantasy-readers may find too simplistic, but that’s the kind of story this series is. Sullivan is focusing on just having fun. The theme is in tune with the likes of The Three Musketeers or Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s a series that could be considered more or less kid-friendly, but definitely not categorized as YA. When thought of in those terms, RIYRIA REVELATIONS is on its own out there in the fantasy genre, or, at least, the only story like it that stands out.

~Greg Hersom

fantasy novel reviews Michael J. Sullivan The Emerald StormThe Emerald Storm is the fourth installment by Michael J. Sullivan in the Riyria Revelations series. Chronicling the high seas exploits of Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, The Emerald Storm continues where Nyphron Rising left off and our heroes return in order to save civilization. Again.

The further revelations about the history and motivations of both Blackwater and Melborn are highlights of The Emerald Storm. These are great characters, so time spent developing their history is worthwhile. Princess Arista, the Empress, and her secretary receive their own storylines as well. However, I just didn’t feel that interested in what was happening with them this time around. I knew that Sullivan needed them to tell the story, but I just wanted to skip ahead to the main characters.

Still, Sullivan keeps the plot moving: bad people get away with being clever and devious, good people are killed, and there is enough fighting and adventure to make up for shaky attempts at drama and intrigue. I guess that I expected some swashbuckling adventure and The Emerald Storm didn’t have as much I wished for.

~John Hulet

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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

View all posts by Greg Hersom (RETIRED)


  1. I have to admit I thought it would be hard to top the last book. But this was a thought with about every book so far, and Michael Sullivan delivered better than ever with each read. This is the first book that has left me wanting more and anticipating the next book, Winterstide. I can’t wait for it to come out!

  2. Too be honest, I had my misgivings before starting it. I really wasn’t up for another high-seas adventure or pirate tale, so I was a little surprised that it turned-out being my favorite, so far.

  3. Greg – Even after hearing that, I’m glad you enjoyed the book so much. Even though they are on a ship, there are other things going on that kind of evens out the ship voyage.

  4. I agree. The inner conspiracies that were occurring on the ship was an especially entertaining twist. But I think my favorite element were the warrior tribes and outlaw warlords the Ryiria meet-up with.

  5. Ayal Hurst /

    I am trying to find a copy of The Emerald Storm and Wintertide for a reasonable price….I have never before seen a paperback go for $100+….that seems crazy to me….if anyone has one they want to share, it’s the only way I’ll get to finish the series….

    Warm regards,


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