The Death of Dulgath by Michael J Sullivan (The Ryria Chronicles #3)

I love Michael J. Sullivan.  
I want to put that out there from the beginning, because I need to admit this review may be somewhat biased or swayed by that existing love. Even before I began reading Michael J. Sullivan’s latest book, The Death of Dulgath, this bias was evident in that I picked it ahead of Brandon Sanderson’s latest book, The Bands of Mourning (which arrived before Dulgath).

The reality is that Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater are possibly two of my favourite fictional characters ever, right up there with Tiffany Aching and Sam Vimes, Faramir, and Whiskeyjack. When you go and include the wonderful world in which the two characters inhabit, and Sullivan’s Riyria books are some of my most beloved.

The Death of Dulgath was a long-anticipated wait for me – a Kickstarter-back booked that received the support of 1,876 supporters and comes with a bundle of extras.

Despite my rampant-caveating, however, I can honestly say that I loved this book. Maybe I’m a little blind, but I like to think that Michael J. Sullivan is simply getting better and better at the craft of storytelling. The Death of Dulgath is the third prequel to his original The Riyria Revelations stories (originally self-published as 6 shorter-books, now collected in three volumes), so Sullivan is increasing our understanding of the world while at the same time ensuring he doesn’t step on the toes of books already published set afterwards.

The Death of Dulgath does this superbly, revealing information to the characters that we already know from later books, while still keeping the reader interesting. The author also reveals information to us the readers that the characters already know, while avoiding the pitfalls of the dreaded infodump.

The story itself is as intricate and delicate as the overall placement of the book, weaving several parallel storylines alongside one another, keeping bits of information from revealing the whole while never making it look as if the author was keeping bits of information from revealing the whole. This is a trick author’s need to master if they are going to satisfy their readers, avoiding obvious contrivance and allowing a story to play out as if naturally (ie, not created by an author at their desk).

The Death of Dulgath does not read like so many prequels published these days, which are nothing more than glorified Wikipedia entries. This book exists to tell a story, not to fill in backstory for other books. The story stands on its own, which inherently reveals more about the characters themselves for the reader willing to put two-and-two together.  
I’m tempted to jump straight back into The Riyria Revelations – I just want more Royce and Hadrian. Being back in their world is at once wonderful, and fraught with agony as I know I’ll soon have to leave. The Death of Dulgath was not only a fine addition to Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria world, but a great book all on its own. This would serve as a great starting point for anyone wanting to find out about Riyria, and will open the door to other great books.

9/10 A great starting point for anyone wanting to find out about Riyria

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