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The Crown Tower (The Riyria Chronicles) Paperback – August 6, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


"Filled with adventure and clever dialog and featuring a pair of not-quite-heroes whose loyalties to each other provide them with their greatest strength, this epic fantasy showcases the arrival of a master storyteller... A winning debut for fantasy lovers."—Library Journal on Theft of Swords

"Hair-raising escapes, flashy sword fights, and faithful friendship complete the formula for good old-fashioned escapist fun."Publishers Weekly on Theft of Swords

"A whirlwind of twists, earth-shattering surprises and deadly betrayal."—Literary Magic

"Mr. Sullivan continues to impress. In Royce and Hadrian he has created some of the best characters the genre has seen in some time, and in Avempartha he shows that he knows what to do with them. These books should be in every bookstore and I really hope that they are someday."—Speculative Fiction Junkie

From the Author

Welcome to the Riyria Chronicles.

If you're new to the world of Elan, you might want to read this introduction to help determine where to start your journey, because it might not be here. If you're a veteran of The Riyria Revelations you might want to read this just for a bit of perspective for future books.

The Riyria Chronicles are prequels to my debut series, the Riyria Revelations (initially released by Orbit from Nov 2011- Jan 2012). If you prefer your tales in chronological order, please start with The Crown Tower, as I've taken great care to avoid spoilers. That being said, Chronicles were actually designed to be read after the Riyria Revelations, and veteran readers will be treated to Easter eggs made possible by having the inside scoop on the entire story arc. These won't be significant plot points, just little extra surprises for those in the know. For those desiring to read in publication order, start with Theft of Swords. The bottom line is that readers, both old and new, should find a rewarding experience with either approach, and no prior knowledge of Revelations is expected or required.

One thing I'd like to mention is the difference of structure between the two series. For those that don't know, I wrote all six books of The Riyria Revelations before publishing any of them. This was absolutely necessary for that particular tale. While I gave each book its own conflict and resolution, there were a number of threads interwoven across the entire series. Mysteries were hinted at, geese needed chasing, and everything was built to support the grand finale. Being a first work, I could afford such luxury. It didn't matter that it took more than a decade to create. After all, no one would be waiting on the next installment.

I'm approaching The Riyria Chronicles quite differently. I have no idea how many there will be (beyond the first two books, which are already released), so I'm designing this as an open-ended series rather than a single tale divided into episodes. The stories are intended to be more like stand-alone novels with less integration from one book to another. The reason is simple. I'm very sensitive about having Royce and Hadrian overstay their welcome. We all know of series, both book and television, that went on longer than they should have. It's sad to see something that was once loved and cherished becoming a shadow of its former self. So by designing Chronicles in this way I can play it by ear when determining whether to release the next adventure.

I'm fortunate enough to make my living from writing, and a story, no matter how much I enjoy writing it, doesn't put food on the table if no one is interested. Being a writer in this day and age provides the possibility for more interaction then when Hemingway or Steinbeck wrote. Emails, forum posts, tweets, blog comments, and even a survey I crated to collect feedback made it clear that I hadn't yet reached the point where my characters were being asked to politely find somewhere else to go. So it is the readers who are partially responsible for this series' existence and their feedback will also play a major role in any additional books. To that end, when you finish this book, please email me at (or answer this short poll) and let me know whether you want more or would prefer me to go on to something else. After all you provide me with the income to support my family, the least I can do is give you want you want to read.

12/12/12 Edit: Thank you to the folks at Fantasy Faction for including The Crown Tower in their Top 10 Anticipated Books for 2013. I'm honored to be included with such industry greats as Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Peter V. Brett, Scott Lynch, and Mark Charan Newton as well as new authors Mark Lawrence, Myke Cole, and Douglas Hulick

12/15/12 Edit: Thanks also to the people at for including The Crown Tower on their own Most Anticiated Fantasy Books for 2013. It is joined by some familiar faces from the other list: Jordan, Sanderson, Brett, Lawrence but is also joined by Daniel Abraham, Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Richard K. Morgan.

12/20/12 Edit: I'm honored that The Crown Tower was named by Ranting Dragon as one of their 50 Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels to Look Forward to in 2013. It is joined by: Scott Lynch, Peter V. Brett, Kevin Hearne, John Scalzi, Daniel Abraham, Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, Brandson Sanderson, Neil Gaiman, Guy Gavriel Kay, and several others.

12/2/13 Edit: I'm honored that The Crown Tower was a 2013 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fantasy. It is joined by: Scott Lynch, Peter V. Brett, Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, Brandson Sanderson, Neil Gaiman, Guy Gavriel Kay, Terry Goodkind, R.A. Salvatore and several others.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Riyria Chronicles
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031624371X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316243711
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After finding a manual typewriter in the basement of a friend's house, Michael J. Sullivan inserted a blank piece of paper and typed: It was a dark and stormy night. He was just eight years old at the time and mimicking Snoopy so we'll forgive the use of that overused opening. But the desire to fill the blank page and see what doors the typewriter keys would unlock wouldn't let him go. For ten years Michael developed his craft by studying authors such as Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck. During that time he wrote thirteen novels, and after finding no traction in publishing, he quit and vowed never to write creatively again.

Michael discovered that never is a very long time and ended his writing hiatus a decade later but with a condition: he wouldn't seek publication (as doing so was just too painful). Instead, he decided to write books he wanted to read and developed a fantasy series to for his then thirteen-year-old daughter, who was struggling in school due to dyslexia. After reading the third book, his wife insisted the series needed to "get out there." After Michael refused to jump back on the query-go-round, she took over the publication tasks.

Michael is one of the few authors who has successfully published through all three routes: small press, self, and big five, and he helps aspiring authors help determine the path that is best for them through is posts on publishing for Amazing Stories. Some key accomplishments of his career include:

* Named to io9's Most Successful Self-Published Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors
* Selling more than half a million copies
* Being translated to fifteen foreign languages
* Spending more than a year on Amazon's Bestselling Fantasy Author's list
* Having his books named to more than 90 "best of" or "most anticipated" lists including those compiled by Library Journal, Barnes and Noble,, and

Today, Michael continues to fill blank pages and is working on completing the final book in his third series tentatively titled The First Empire (traditional fantasy). His first science fiction novel, Hollow World was released by Tachyon Publications in April 2014.

* Riyria Blog:
* Hollow World Blog:
* First Empire Series Blog:
* Twitter: @author_sullivan
* Riyria Facebook:
* Author Facebook:


* Theft of Swords: contains The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha
* Rise of Empire: contains Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm
* Heir of Novron: contains Wintertide & Percepliquis

* The Crown Tower
* The Rose and the Thorn
* Blood of Thieves (Omnibus that contains The Crown Tower and The Rose and the Thorn)

THE FIRST EMPIRE (release date to be determined)
* Rhune
* Fhrey
* Dherg

* Hollow World (time-travel science fiction)
* Antithesis: release date to be determined (contemporary fantasy)
* Burden to the Earth: release date to b determined (literary fiction)

* The Crown Conspiracy
* Avempartha
* Nyphron Rising
* The Emerald Storm
* Wintertide
* Percepliquis

* The Viscount: A Riyria Short
* The Jester: A Riyria Short
* The Thieves: A Riyria Short (coming soon)
* Greener Grass (time-travel science fiction)
* Traditions: (traditional fantasy, coming soon)
* God's Game: (contemporary fantasy, coming soon)
* Burning Alexandria: (dystopian science fiction, coming soon)
* Autumn's Mist (contempoary fantasy, coming soon)

* Unfettered
* Triumph Over Tragedy
* The End - Visions of Apocalypse

Customer Reviews

All I can really say is this is just a flat out fun book to read.
It was well written, the characters and world were believable and consistent, and the story moved at a really good pace.
The book also builds the character of Gwen and reveals at the end how she and Royce get together.
D. Wilkin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Baby~Doll on August 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In chronologial order this is the first book of the Riyria Revelations and I can tell that the author is finding his stride. I'm already a huge fan of the series and I think this one is the best by far. The other books have hinted at how the infamous pair of Royce and Hadrian met but this really fleshes it out for you. And even though I already knew what happened I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book. I stayed up way too late so I could finish it the day I got it because there just wasn't a good enough place to stop that would have allowed me to sleep. I highly recommend this book and series to anyone in need of a good fantasy adventure. my only complaint, and it isn't even a complaint, but I suppose I wish it was longer. I love Royce and Hadrian and I really enjoy Michael J. Sullivan's work, so I would've liked to prolong the adventure, though I look forawrd to the next installments!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Nicholson on August 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Crown Tower" is the first book in 'The Riyria Chronicles' by author Michael J. Sullivan. This Kindle e-book was a 717 Kb download (approx. 377 reading pages) and sold for $8.89 at the time of writing this review. The book also includes a brief excerpt of the second book in the series, "The Rose and the Thorn", due out in Sept, 2013.

Spoilers (general theme)

This book deals with the first encounters between Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn... a relationship initially filled with suspicion, distrust and a huge amount of animosity.

End Spoilers

Some Pros and Concerns...

The Pros
1.) well written and deftly told in the professional style that is readily apparent in all of the books of this series.

2.) a nice sense of pace and timing... important pieces of info were released in proper sequence and at intervals that kept the story moving along while maintaining the suspense.

3.) map... there is a very good map with markings for topographical features and the names of major places. (See Concerns below)

4.) I thought the author did a terrific job in highlighting both Hadrian's and Royce's initial character traits. Hadrian with a degree of youthful naivety and innocence and Royce's uncaring ruthlessness. Two clashing personality traits that were slowly and often painfully softened by the books end.

5.) some interesting confrontations between our heroes and several other groups and individuals. These moments are tense, exciting and typical of Michael J. Sullivan skill with prose for action-based scenes.

6.) bantering conversation... because this tale documents their initial meetings, it took a while for them to develop their kibitzing style of repartee...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andrea T. on August 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I discovered Mr. Sullivan earlier this summer thanks to reddit, and from the get go I loved his Revelations series. I might apply the word voraciously to how quickly I went through those books. Needless to say, I was pleased to learn I would only have to wait till early August to read The Crown Tower, and I am happy to report it reads as wonderfully as Revelations. No seriously, I read it in a few hours after pulling the whole "just a chapter" thing. His writing style is hard to put down. He combines humor, fun, and darker things in an amazingly readable way. This book entertained me, moved me, made me thoughtful about both the book's internal world, and the real world.

For those who have read Revelation: this book has the same feel without feeling like a rehash of those book. I was actually surprised at how different the character's personalities were- they were all definitely recognizable, but they felt younger, and untried. The developing relationship between Hadrian and Royce really felt perfect knowing how they turn out much, much later. I was happy to see Gwen make a large appearance, and I think her story line is one of the things I am most looking forward to next. It should be really cool to see how a lot of the threads that came together in Revelations started.

For those who haven't read Revelations: You can jump right in with this book, you don't need to have read the earlier, but later books first. I don't think reading this book would change how you view the story of the later books, either, but I haven't reread them, yet.

The only concern I can muster is that sometimes I wished the pacing slowed down and maybe offered a little more description of the people/world. It really didn't bother me much, but I feel like I have to offer some balance to the unremitted praise.

I highly recommend this book, and this author. It's an excellent, fast-paced read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. Adams on August 16, 2013
Format: Paperback

For all of you familiar with the Riyria Revelations books, Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn are the Dynamic Duo of fantasy: Hadrian the great warrior with three swords for any occasion and Royce the dark, mysterious assassin waiting to put a dagger in you. Two partners who are as polarly opposite in their personality and outlook on life as in their styles of fighting. No matter their differences however, these two night and day characters are the most dedicated of partners and friends.

But how could they have ever gotten past these issues to form a partnership called Riyria?

This is the story Michael J. Sullivan sets out to tell in The Crown Tower, and he accomplishes it with a flair long time readers have come to expect from him. The tale he pens is one of those very rare prequels: a stand alone story which - while tipping its hat so subtly to the older novels - never fails to understand it is a story unto itself. Indeed, Hadrian, Royce and Gwen grabbed the readers attention from the first, drawing them along involuntarily in the turbulence of their story as all three are inevitably drawn together.

Naturally, our story takes place before the events of The Theft of Swords, which is the first set of books set in the world of Riyria. Here, Hadrian Blackwater is a young man, still holding onto his youthful naivety yet having seen and done bloody deeds that even he refuses to recall. Our youthful optimist has wandered over half the world since he left his father's blacksmith shop as a youth, eager to find glory and a worthy cause that his unvanquishable sword skills could be used for. Yet, none of the glory or gold satisfied Hadrian: they made him feel hollow inside actually.
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