The cover of Little Girl Lost reminds me of the story of The Little Match Girl by HC Andersen (a story that made me bawl when I read it the first time). That look fits the story well as this is a story of orphans and poverty. A very short story. Only 15 pages long.
Tristan J. Tarwater calls Little GirlLost a prequel to Thieves At Heart. I guess that makes it story no. 0 in the tale of Valley of Ten Crescents.
Tavera is around seven or eight years old when she is sold into service – not for the first time. Such a fate was not unknown (and probably isn’t today) in many parts of the world. Tavera’s previous work had been coal sorting, fruit picking and laundering.
Being an orphan has never been an easy life. Being a “half-breed” (in this case half-elf) seldom helped.
A sense of Hansel and Gretel enters the story when the ancient, hunched over crone, Mrs. Greswin, pokes a finger in Tavera’s ribs and states that she’ll soon have Tavera fattened up. Yikes, what does this sausage maker put into her sausages?
Like all children, at least I was, Tavera is curious and when Mrs. Creswin is drunk enough Tavera explores as much as she can and discovers surprising facts about the old lady, gets into trouble, and sometimes discovers secrets better left alone. As it is a prequel, you all know this story is going to end well for Tavera. Well, kind of.
I enjoyed this little tale that only took a short, short while to read.
Michael J. Sullivan has been writing his whole life. Not until he began writing the Rirya Revelations series did he get published. Strange thing that. The Rirya Revelations had been a project that he undertook to please himself and his daughter (who has been part of designing the cartoon on Michael’s website). All six books were finished before the first one was published.
After a while the sales took off and Michael J. Sullivan has become a well-known name in the fantasy world. That recognition is well-deserved. His books are fun to read and they kept me wanting to know how the greater plot is resolved. The characters are fun and varied. It is not immediately clear whether the butler did it or not (I know there isn’t a butler in these books) and that is something that I really like in a writer. We should be kept wondering who the baddest baddie is.
All six books are stand-alone books in the sense that the main problem is resolved. However, there is a greater plot spanning all six books, so it would be a good idea to start at omnibus no. 1 – Theft of Swords. That way you get all of those pesky little threads tied together from the beginning.
Royce Melborne and Hadrian Blackwater are essential characters in all six novels. They are the Rirya – a gang of two. Together they get into and out of all sorts of trouble. These books are good for young adults and upwards. There isn’t too much violence and no sex.
The gods of Elan are: Erebus (Father of the gods), Ferrol (Eldest son, god of elves), Drome (Second son, god of dwarves), Maribor (Third son, god of men), Muriel (Only daughter, goddess of nature) and Uberlin (Son of Muriel and Erebus, god of darkness).
The main political parties to be aware of are:
Imperialists: Those wishing to unite mankind under a single leader who is the direct descendant of the demigod Novron.
Nationalists: Those wishing to be ruled by a leader chosen by the people.
Royalists: Those wishing to continue rule by individual, independent monarchs.
THEFT OF SWORDS (2011): THE CROWN CONSPIRACY AND AVEMPARTHA
Hadrian and Royce are stopped by highway robbers, incredibly incompetent ones according to Hadrian and Royce. When the highway robbers discover that they are dealing with the Rirya, panic settles in. Before they go, Hadrian gives the robbers advice on how to rob people properly.
Hadrian and Royce are on their way to a job. That is what they do. They get paid to rob the wealthy for various reasons. The two of them are quite successful at what they do. But things are bound to go wrong when they are asked to undertake a job that leaves them practically no time plan. A sword is placed in the chapel at the Medford castle, and the boys are to remove it to give Count Pickering trouble in a duel. What Hadrian discovers instead is a dead king and he and Royce are accused of the murder.
Hadrian and Royce meet up with the guy who asked them to steal the sword, and you can probably imagine that they weren’t best pleased. But for some strange reason the man walked out of that meeting alive. Royce gets to chat with old friends and the two men are told of a young girl looking for them. They must be in a soft frame of mind, for when they meet this young girl, Thrace, they end up going with her to her village. There, mighty adventure awaits. Ok, that was a bit over-kill.
In the meantime, and you just know there has to be a meantime don’t you?, Arista bounces into her brother King Alric’s meeting misunderstanding the meeting’s intent. She thinks he is about to marry her off, while he is in reality planning on sending her as an ambassador to Dunmore. Arista likes the idea of having something to do, especially as it gets her away from all of the rumors of her witchhood. Along with her normal entourage bishop Saldur comes along with the Pickering brothers. Fanin and Mauvin are going to enter into a contest the church of Novron is holding in Ervanon.
RISE OF EMPIRE (2011): NYPHRON RISING AND THE EMERALD STORM
Young Amilia works as a bullied scullion maid at Aquesta. She is being threatened once again by Edith Mon, the head maid, but saved when two women enter the kitchen. One is clearly some kind of nobility, having both the manners and the clothes for it. The other is an extremely thin and quiet young woman who turns out to be the Empress of Modina. She does not look the part at all.
Through luck Regent Saldur (formerly bishop) appoints Amilia as the Empress’ new secretary. Amilia is terrified as she knows the fate of those who disappoint the regent. But Amilia turns out to have a positive effect on the Empress.
Royce and Hadrian have become royal spies, a job they are really good at. They have found themselves willing to be in the service of the Royal family of Medford, trying to keep the kingdom alive and well in a growing Empire. But keeping Medford on its feet is quite a challenge. Princess Arista has had no luck as an ambassador in finding allies. Every country is too afraid of the new Empire to dare to fight it.
THE EMERALD STORM
Merrick Marius is the world’s best and most cunning assassin. He has been hired to kill someone in Arista’s closest circle. It goes off without a hitch, leaving Arista without an important aid in keeping Ratibor in the hands of the nationalists. But he leaves her with a riddle: “Find the Horn of Gylindora … at Wintertide the Uli Vermar ends … Patriarch … is the same …”. Arista knows the message is extremely important but she hasn’t got a clue how to go about it.
Amilia is still the Empress’ secretary. Modena has been moved to better lodgings, but Amilia still feels as though she is treading water. But fortunately she has acquired her own helper in Nimbus, a landless nobelman. Amilia’s life is on the line every day, as Regent Saldur has made it quite clear what will happen if the Empress embarrasses him in any kind of manner.
Royce and Hadrian go off hunting Merrick. Once Royce and Merrick were good friends, but something happened and Merric now hates Royce. Now he has the chance to play with the Ryria and work against the kingdom of Medford. He tries to lure the two into a trap, quite a cunning one it turns out.
HEIR OF NOVRON (2012): WINTERTIDE AND PERCEPLIQUIS
Stealing is what he has to do to survive. But back luck strikes and he gets yelled at when he gets back to his gang. They decide to try to fleece two newcomers to the city. Royce and Hadrian enter the Imperial Square in a snowstorm. They have come to save Degan Gaunt from execution. The boys discover that the newcomers might be more than they have bargained for, but their meeting actually turns out to be fortuitous for both sides.
Arista is trying to stay sane in her cell. Arista’s attempt to save Degan Gaunt has not been successful. She just knows that she cannot give up trying to escape as the fate of the world rests upon her hands, quite literally.
Amilia is still secretary to the Empress, finding her life full of new experiences. Modena is still quite grief-struck at the challenges that have met her. But something happens to slowly wake her from her dull and grief-struck state. She finds something to live for a meaning to life. Revenge and retribution.
The elves are a hunted people by humans. Persecution is severe by the Church of Nypron. They are thought of as terrible creatures who should be struck down whenever they are seen. Now the elves have come on to human lands once again, striking down humans.
Rather than help the humans in trouble, Guy Luis is chasing a young girl called Mercy. She is the ward of Arcadius and Arcadius is trying to save her. But that job might turn out to be insurmountable.
Refugees are arriving at the Imperial city. All of the North is being overrun and the humans have no idea why. As more and more refugees come into the city Arista decides that the riddle Eshraddon gave her must be solved and as soon as possible. However, she soon discovers, once again, obstacles in her way. Royce and Hadrian end up providing the assistance she needs.
2010 Iceberg Ink Award Best Read (Avempartha)
2010 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fantasy (The Emerald Storm)
2009 National Indie Book Award Finalist (The Crown Conspiracy)
2008 ReaderViews Annual Literary Award Finalist (The Crown Conspiracy)