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The Crown Tower  By  cover art

The Crown Tower

By: Michael J. Sullivan
Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
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Publisher's Summary

Michael J. Sullivan garnered critical raves and a massive readership for his Riyria Revelations series. The first book in his highly anticipated Riyria Chronicles series of prequels, The Crown Tower brings together warrior Hadrian Blackwater with thieving assassin Royce Melborn. The two form a less-than-friendly pairing, but the quest before them has a rare prize indeed, and if they can breach the supposedly impregnable walls of the Crown Tower, their names will be legend.

©2013 Michael J. Sullivan (P)2013 Recorded Books

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What listeners say about The Crown Tower

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Delicious Icing on a Terrific Cake

The Crown Tower: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 1 starts with a nice forward from the author, Michael J. Sullivan, where he explains why he decided to write the prequel stories, The Riyria Chronicles, after having published The Riyria Revelations. And in the forward he says that he wrote them in a way that readers could enjoy reading the stories in order of publication (Revelations first, then Chronicles) or in order of events (Chronicles first, then Revelations). Having read all The Riyria Revelations books and now having listened to the first of The Chronicles, I think that is mostly true - you could follow the story in either order. However, The Crown Tower is bound to be a joy and great fun to anyone who enjoyed The Revelations, but isn't likely to be as compelling to those who have not. All the world building and plot setup is done in The Revelations and you just aren't going to understand what it means when someone says, "By Maribor,....", the hostility toward "the church", and some other references in The Crown Tower without reading The Revelations books. The Revelations is the place to fall in love with Michael Sullivan's world and its characters; The Chronicles provide icing on a really great cake.

If you have already read and loved The Revelations, you are gonna be thrilled with The Crown Tower. The boys (Hadrian and Royce) are back, but not quite the amazing pair they came to be in The Revelations. The Crown Tower goes through their first adventure together forced on them by Professor Arcadius (remember him??) and we get some wonderful insights into how these opposites came together to make such a great team. Michael Sullivan's style is consistent - quick paced, great settings, good plotting, even minor characters have dimension, and very witty dialog. One other similarity with The Revelations; Sullivan writes great fight scenes even for a reader like me who isn't too into the normal violence of high fantasy. In addition to taking us back to the beginning of the daring duo, The Crown Tower gives us an origin narrative for Gwen which I found surprisingly compelling. I will admit that I wasn't overly fond of the Gwen character in The Revelations books - mostly only liked her for her protectiveness of Royce. However, when you get the back-story on Gwen, she becomes a much more sympathetic and understandable character.

I really like the pairing of Sullivan's writing with Tim Reynolds narration. Not only did Reynolds do the narration for The Revelations books which keeps The Crown Tower sounding nicely consistent, but Reynolds seems a natural for Sullivan's books. Reynolds shades his voice more than changing it for character voices/accents, but it is plenty to make the dialog easy to follow and keeps Sullivan's very adventuresome writing from sounding "over the top" while still maintaining a nice narrative tension throughout the book.

If you haven't read The Riyria Revelations books, please start there and if you like high fantasy at all you will love them. If you have read The Riyria Revelations, dive into The Crown Tower and be prepared to not want to stop until the end of the book. This is a totally satisfying listen that will still leave you wanting MUCH more!!

280 people found this helpful

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Fell in love with these characters all over again

This was so much fun hearing the front story to Hadrian and Royce's relationship as well as gaining a better understanding of Gwen. After the next book, I'm going to go back and listen to the Riyria Revelations again (something I never do with audio books) just to hear it all in one neat package.

Some have said don't start here, but I don't think it would hurt anything. I do think understanding the characters before you hear this book might be useful and give you a better appreciation of it, but you would still understand the story with no problem.

If you're on the fence about reading any of these books, don't be. I have over 500 books in my audible collection and this is one of my favorite series of all of them. The only bad thing about the series is it eventually ends and you have to leave all these guys behind. Do yourself a favor and add Royce and Hadrian to your collection of fictional friends.

101 people found this helpful

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The First Of Many Prequels to Riyria Revelations!

This will be quick and to the point.

If you like rich fantasy, as I do, you'll want to listen to the "Riyria Revelations" trilogy by Michael J. Sullivan. When you do, you're in for hours of incredibly rich and rewarding listening that you'll re-visit long after the first listen. But, not just yet.

This isn't about THAT series...Well, in a way, it is.

Before you move to that fantastic trilogy, start HERE, with this prequel to the series. If you don't, you're truly missing out on an incredible listening ride worth your hard-earned Audible credit.

Why start here? Easy.

Conceived and written after the trilogy was published, the author was urged by his wife to do a series of short stories that further establish and solidify what you'll read in the awesome "Revelations" trilogy. Sullivan takes an already well-written series, and uses the opportunity to set multiple stages for what's ahead. And THAT makes the trilogy an even more enjoyable listen, once you get there.

Herein you'll find a EXTENSIVE world created and enriched to satisfy any listening appetite ready for adventure, depth, storyline, mystery, intrigue, shadowy secrets, plans within plans, detailed characters and VERY good dialogue...and here's the best part: All of it is well written, and a pleasure to experience. And the narrator, Tim Reynolds, does a respectable job to bring the characters to life!

Again, as usual, ZERO plot secrets, spoilers or giveaways - That's cheating YOU, dear Audible listener, out of the fun of enjoying Sullivan's journey for the first time, with all of the surprises, captivation and enjoyment he originally intended for you to experience.

You want shallow, boring writing, steer clear. Otherwise, you should dip your toe into Sullivan's waters with this awesome prequel, and if you do, I'm betting that you'll dive headfirst the Revelations trilogy.

Just like I did. And by the way, the water's fine!

64 people found this helpful

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Can't Get Enough of These Characters!

Been a fantasy and science fiction fan all my life, but after reading the three volumes of Michael J. Sullivan's Ryria Revelations series (Theft of Swords, et al) in 2012 he shot to the top of my favorite author list. In fact, I felt bereft that there weren't more books to read about the two main characters, Hadrian and Royce. I tend to think of those two as the Laurel and Hardy of fantasy fiction, constantly getting into trouble and wise-cracking their way through it. I read many other series since, but actually grew tired of all the epic battles and endless descriptions of the blood and gore. By the time I got to the end of Wheel of Time, I didn't even care anymore. I just wanted the darn story to be OVER!

I longed for more great writing like Sullivan's, where the unfolding story and development of the characters are the focus, with enough action, swordplay and a dash of romance that creates an experience I thoroughly enjoy. When did you last read a fantasy series with characters like Hadrian and Royce that made you laugh out loud? Now I'm spoiled. I want more!

Imagine how excited I was to discover that now we ARE getting more of Hadrian and Royce! The new "Chronicles" series starts with the story of how they first met. I absolutely love this book! Everything I loved about the "Revelations" series (exciting story laced with humor and action and characters that I love). I also love that it's written in such a way that it doesn't matter whether you have or have not read the original "Revelations" series. Book 2 of The Riyria Chronicles is coming out in September. I can't wait.

Write faster, Michael...please! Keep 'em coming!

52 people found this helpful

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FRIEND IS ONLY ONE LETTER AWAY FROM FIEND

SILENCE WAS THE RESULT OF SOMEONE GETTING STRANGLED
Character driven, action packed, twists and turns, but most of all entertaining. I actually liked this one a little better then The Crown Conspiracy. That is probably mostly because I am a bit anal about order. Sullivan writes an excellent intro and he believes you would enjoy reading the other series first. If you read the other series there are some secrets revealed in this series you will love hearing. He does state that read in either order they should be good. Like I said I enjoyed this just a little better, but then I am DIMMER THEN A STARLESS NIGHT.

ANYTHING CAN ALWAYS BE WORSE
I love the character development and at first you might think they are a little two dimensional, but be patient, as the story goes on the characters become more complicated and more human. As far as characters go, I believe we learn that 1. people are they way they are due to how they are raised and 2. they have the ability to change and become better people. I am looking forward to continuing the series and watching these characters better themselves. This first journey was fun and there was not a dull moment. THAT WAS A STINK THAT NEEDED AIRING.

27 people found this helpful

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Did not disapoint

The problem with many others that create prequels and sequels is that they try to make the story too outrageous and in a way unrealistic. This is a fantasy book, but the characters actually feel real.

In revelations Royce and Hadrian seemed like an odd pair, but it was stated that at first they actually despised each other. This book describes how it all began better than I could of imagined. The best thing about this book it made me understand Royce and Hadrian much more. Character development is lacking in some series, but with Riyria Chronicles and Revelations the author makes you feel how they are feeling with every loss and hardship. He makes you understand the type of people they are.

Also the back story on Gwen makes you understand her more as a character as well. You also start to see how genuine and nice she actually is. In Revelations she was a little bit of a mystery and did not seem as much of an important character.

There is also some extra mystery coming out in this book that makes me wonder if the author will reveal more of the story from the point of view of the professor. How he knows what he does and whom he is working with.

All in all I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone that has read Revelations or is just looking for other great books as well. Michael Sullivan really knows how to develop his characters so you can really understand who they are. I would probably still read Revelations first though since I believe you will fall in love with the characters quicker there and really want to know how they came to be.

22 people found this helpful

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Great Prequel to an Equally Great Series

If you've read the Riyira Chronicles, this is the story of how our two Muskateers, Royce and Hadrian become partners. The author suggests you read the trilogy first, and I heartily agree.

I love this entire series because I love the two main characters. In fact, the author's wife fell so hard for Hadrian she inspired her husband to write this prequel. Their banter and swashbuckling are fun, funny and exciting.

And this is exactly why it's important to listen to the Chronicles first. This story is about the forming of a partnership that precedes the truly great adventure of the Ryira.

While this story has little in the way of elves, trolls, magic, warlocks and witches, it is a terrific adventure that captured my imagination.

21 people found this helpful

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From the "Start Here" perspective

The foreword offers different ways to begin the Riyria collection - either chronologically, beginning with the Riyria Chronicles and concluding with the Riyria Revelation series or the Revelation series (published first) and then the prequel (newly published) Chronicles. I began here at the Crown Tower, with no prior knowledge of the series and only going by the high ratings by thousands of other readers.
First, the writing itself is entertaining. Michael Sullivan is quite inventive in his descriptions and dialogue and the contrasts between Hadrian and Royce should set up enjoyable dialogues over the course of the next volumes. A big personal thanks to Mr. Sullivan for keeping the scene descriptions and dialogue respectfully clean. (When a brothel is a major component of the story, it would have been easy for things to get tawdry.)
Second, the story prompted some disturbing questions, Some examples: why does the professor take such a personal interest in Royce, knowing what a murderer he is? It has to be more than believing "there is a human being in there." He knows that letting him run loose is going to lead to the deaths of the innocent as well as guilty. Another: Could people such as the "ladies" of the brothel and the boy Royce really not survive outside the city? And how did someone as naïve and gullible as Hadrian appears to be survive war and other challenges? Talent with a sword will only get you so far.
Third, the narrator is good, particularly with the voice of Royce, but his voice for Hadrian, lost some credibility for me. He sounded timid and childish at times, stretching Hadrian's reluctance too far. Also at times the narrator sounded like Edward Everett Horton doing "Fracture Fairy Tales," which was personally amusing but drew a little too much attention to himself.
In conclusion, Sullivan laid a solid foundation for a series, which promises to offer hours and hours of listening pleasure ahead.

19 people found this helpful

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Back to the beginning.

As explained in the prologue narrated by the author, Michael J. Sullivan was very satisfied with the way he ended the Riyria Revelations series so his only option for continuing with these characters was to go the route of prequels. He also explained that he penned this book in such a manner that it works well for both readers new to Riyria as well as veterans of the first series. I listened to this one as the latter and having Tim Gerard Reynolds back at the mic made me feel right at home.

Many hints are dropped throughout the Revelations series about how Royce and Hadrian first met and at last here is that tale. Revealed within is the "what" and the "how" behind the forming of Riyria, while series veterans will bring along their own knowledge about the "why." New readers can start here and just listen in "chronological order" and learn the "why" over time. This is well done by Sullivan who continues to endear himself to me due to the way in which he approaches his craft.

I don't go to 5 stars for this one simply because the characters of Royce and Hadrian are not as interesting as they will eventually become after they exert influence on each other for a while. The basic premise of an "odd couple" pairing of the cold blooded killer with the honorable knight stereotype is nothing new, but Royce and Hadrian are unique enough to overcome this cliché and make it worth your time. Veterans and newbies alike should pick this one up with the expectation of continuing on.

I have already started book 2 of this series and I am enjoying it immensely as the melding of these two opposite individuals is taking shape and forming the pair of thieves that I have come to know and love. Did I say thieves? My bad, I should have said "creative problem solvers."

18 people found this helpful

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Riyria begins

The story of how Royce and Hadrian became friends and partners. Hadrian with his trusting nature, and Royce with his brooding suspicious nature makes for an unusual partnership, but one that's always a bit humorous from the readers point of view. After listening to the Revelations series, this was a real treat to find out how the duo began. I did find myself trying to recall from time to time, the fate of certain characters in the Revelation series, bringing about the question of which series to read first. At any rate, both are equally enjoyable with the excellent narration of Tim Gerard Reynolds.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Payne
  • 01-27-19

I'm too old to enjoy this, but I did...

Surprising insightful psychology hidden in a great old fashioned tail of valour. Very well read!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs S R Gascoigne
  • 10-27-20

Great listening all round.

This is not my usual genre of choice but this is my second MJS book & I’m loving them. The stories are well written, well paced, great detail & carry you along with the characters who you can’t help caring about. I listened Winter’s Daughter first not realising it was part of a series & sort out further titles. This tale where Royce & Hadrian first meet wasn’t marred being out of order. My prior knowledge of the pair was rewarded in the writing of how these two men met, their back stories, how their relationship develops & what was to come. In addition, there is a second layer of great stories & wonderful characters who in time will no doubt be woven in but stand alone in their own rite. Brilliant performance by TGR. His heart felt narration & accomplished acting take you there & you feel like a fly on the wall watching the stories as they play out. Onto the next........

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-28-19

another great listen

another great listen with plenty of twists and turns, can't wait to listen to the next book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • 🧟‍♀️
  • 05-29-21

Fantastic Story

Enjoyed the free short story "professional integrity" and decided to buy this and not disappointed. Great story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ms. J. Bromley
  • 10-14-19

I love it

Really sad to reach the end.
I have really enjoyed following Royce and Hadrian. Thank you for a great yarn.

1 person found this helpful

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  • AmazonCustomer
  • 04-30-19

Amazing!!

So glad to get the back story to these characters after listening to legend of the First Empire followed by Riyria and now the Riyria chronicles I’m happy I have done it this way which is out of character for me as I like to read/listen Chronology...
I’ve completely binge this...this has
Great story
Great characters (old and new) all given life by the voice of TGR
So happy I just got The Rose and the Thorn

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-06-22

Strange overlays on the voice.

Seems like some audio was broken and another reader put in patches in sone places. Very strange

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sarah dallas
  • 04-14-21

Good story

I like the story, brilliant performance but I sometimes find the characters a bit underdeveloped.
I am hooked though, will definitely be reading more in the series

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  • kurra
  • 05-21-19

Easy read

An enjoyable read. A little hint of fantasy with a good story line. Looking forward to other titles by this author.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Harris Gunn
  • 10-04-22

Outstanding writing set in rich medieval fbackdrop

Very good read, brilliant narration, the story unfolds in twisting dark paths. Great character progression.

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  • Lise
  • 08-10-22

how Riyria began

It's good to see how it all started. A very mysterious beginning and funny to read about Hadrian's good nature compared to Royce's wary one. They save each other - and we know they will keep doing so from this point on, which is lovely to see. What a pair and once again well written and so wonerfully performed.

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  • Louise Hobson
  • 07-21-22

Master Storyteller

Once more Michael J Sullivan does it - gripping story , believable characters and fantastic narration by Tim Gerard’s Reynolds. Having listened to the other 6 books it was interesting to hear how the two unlikely partners met.
More stories of their early year please !

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul Rowan
  • 08-29-19

An origin story

A good narrative with the obvious feel of an origin story - entertaining, descriptive, and some interesting character and plot development, though not always filled with purpose. I look forward to reading further through the series.