Review of Michael J. Sullivan’s Age of Myth
Review by Michael Cluff
The origin of a hero is often shrouded in falsehoods, not to hide the hero, but to make a hero better than they really were. It’s sort of like a recipe—take the truth, cut off the fatty inconvenient parts, sprinkle liberally with culture-appropriate virtues, soak in the blood of made up enemies and tears of innocents saved, and let bake for a hundred years or more. Voalá, a hero is now a tall tale, a fable, a myth—more of an ideal than a real person.
In ‘Age of Myth’ by Michael J. Sullivan, there are no larger-than life characters (only some who think they are). We meet four very different and would-be heroes: Raithe, a Dureyan warrior; Persephone, a chieftan’s wife; Arion, a Fhrey (elf) with great power in the Art; and Suri, a young mystic girl. Not one of these four have a desire to be heroes, but would rather keep their lives simple—not necessarily the same, but simple nonetheless. However, these four are thrown into the Hero’s Journey by the loss of people close to them.
Through a sense of duty and responsibility, Persephone, Arion, and Suri are forced to face new environments, new and old enemies, and have their beliefs challenge and changed. Raithe goes through the same process, but it is driven more by survival than duty. Ironically, it is Raithe who is thrust into the heroic role faster and more dangerously than the others. Through actions of self-defense, he becomes known as the God Killer.
‘Age of Myth’ is high fantasy, and the beginning of an epic. It has magic, swords, a killer bear, and myth. Yet, this first book of a larger series could be considered a small event in a much larger history. The story does not explore the whole world Sullivan has created, and that is on purpose. Sullivan strips away the embellishments that often surround heroes and gives us the truth about the four main characters and keeps the story focused on the Raithe, Persephone, Arion, and Suri.
The story doesn’t make the heroes perfect. Their flaws are evident and revealed. They are all forced into their paths. They don’t volunteer for leadership. What makes them heroic is their choices to act and not be acted upon.
Sullivan’s storytelling ability is amazing, the prose rhythmic and flowing. The book will suck you in. The characters will raise and dash your hopes, only to raise them again. The book ends well for our heroes, but that end is a beginning to a much more perilous story. Luckily for us, the readers, the next book in the series comes out July of 2017.