I recently read and reviewed (link to review here) the first book in Michael J. Sullivan’s new series: Age of Myth and was left wanting more. So to fill the void I listened to the newest book in The Riyria Chronicles, The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter. I have high expectations when it comes to Michael J Sullivan and this book did not disappoint.
The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter is the fourth book in the Riyria Chronicles, the prequel series to The Riyria Revelations. The Riyria Chronicles follows the beginning of Royce and Hadrian’s partnership, while The Riyria Revelations follows the duo as an established pair. This book is a standalone novel that you can read without having to read any of the other Riyria books. But I still would recommend reading them in publication order (Revelations first then the Chronicles) to really understand Royce and Hadrian’s partnership or at least beginning with the first book in this series The Crown Tower.
In The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter, Riyria (“it’s elvish for two”) is hired to get revenge for a father, whose daughter he suspects has been killed. The pair starts the investigation and soon finds not everything is as straightforward as it seems. They are further hindered by being in a town steeped in prejudices and superstition.
I found the plot in this book darker and more complex than the previous books and I think it benefitted from it. There were several plot twists that caught me by surprise. The plot was also more complex and had many twist and turns that kept up the excitement.
I loved so many things about this novel. I always enjoy Micheal J. Sullivan’s characters and even after all this time and all these books I still find Hadrian and Royce’s characters compelling. I’ve followed Royce and Hadrian for years, through 9 novels and I am still remarkably invested in their story. I think we have gotten a glimpse of how their partnership became the unbreakable bond that we see in the Riyria Revelations series. I honestly feel greedy for saying this, but I want more! This book showed how much more there is left to explore and develop. I was also infatuated with so many of the characters introduced in this novel. I loved the smart and resourceful Genny, but I will admit that my favorite character (besides Royce and Hadrian) was Evelyn, a crusty old woman who gives as good as she gets. Her interactions with Royce and Hadrian are hilarious and they both benefit from their interactions with her.
This book showed the development the characters went through in order to become the ones we see in the Riyria Revelations, Royce especially. He learns people can be kind and loyal because Hadrian consistently demonstrates these attributes and has a way of pulling this trait out in others. Throughout the previous three books, Royce is incredulous and scoffs at the belief Hadrian has in other people but in The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter, he soon realizes Hadrian’s beliefs tend to come true a little too often to be just luck. In this book Royce figures out just how lucky he is to have someone as loyal and kind as Hadrian in his life. He realizes just how much of a unicorn Hadrian is.
Royce isn’t the only one to develop in this book, Hadrian does some developing of his own. We get to see more of his past in this novel and it isn’t as lighthearted and easy as Hadrian makes it seem. Hadrian solidifies his life philosophy in this novel. He figures out that darkness will always exist but the light is always there for the people looking for it. This is why I love Hadrian so much. His optimism is catching. Although I find that there’s never enough Hadrian in any book for me, Hadrian did have some great moments in this book.
*End of Spoilers*
I think I can honestly say that this is my favorite book in the Riyria Chronicles. So much happened that made the characters into the ones we know from the later books and it was so much fun to witness. I find that every book that Michael J Sullivan puts out is better than the last and this book is my favorite so far.