At first I had a hard time getting into this series. Sneering bad guys and obvious heroes can be a put-off, and the bad guys are in full sneering mode throughout this series. There’s a fun aspect to that, which I fully applaud and support, but I need to know that a story can go deeper than that.

Titles: Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, Heir of Novron
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds

But the great thing about Riyria is that it gets better as it goes along, eventually developing into an excellent classic, heroic fantasy tale. While the worldbuilding is never as deep as many other series out there, it was sufficiently interesting and engaging to permit immersion. But the characters were the main draw here. The protagonist role is split three ways between two journeyman sword fighters and a princess with magical talent. While describing them will hit all the major stereotypes, the story still manages to play out in a very fresh and interesting way.

Also highly noteworthy here is the wonderful effort by narrator Tim Gerard Reynolds. He’s one of the best, and his grasp of emotional scenery and dialoge are second to none. I’m currently reading the Magician series by Lev Grossman, which he also narrated with incredible deftness, capturing the unique sense of ennui and depression that constitutes the major theme in that series. And his voices are so consistent that you can often identify characters without the “said so-and-so” prompts. While I’m not a big believer in reading a series just because of the narrator (story comes first!), Reynolds is one of the few I might make an exception for.