The most entertaining author’s note I’ve ever listened to was written and read by Michael J. Sullivan at the beginning of The Crown Tower, the first book of the Riyria Chronicles. He described how his wife, Robin, schemed to get him to write the prequel to his vastly successful trilogy, The Riyria Revelations, because she developed an infatuation for Hadrian Blackwater. I am only two books into The Riyria Revelations, but I have grown fond of Hadrian and Royce, a pair of dashing heroes has never been so perfectly crafted. If I could choose any team to go on an adventure with, I would go with them.
The Charms of Hadrian Blackwater
Hadrian Blackwater was a knight in slightly tarnished armor. The son of a blacksmith from the small town of Hintendar, he left to seek his fortune in Calis where he used his outstanding swordsmanship to win competitions in the arena. He also spent time fighting in armies, although he had no real loyalty for a single one.
When I first met him in Theft of Swords, this dashing hero was part of a group who call themselves Riyria, which is elven for two, working odd jobs for money. They are hired by a noble man to steal a sword and end up being framed for the murder of a king. While in prison, they are hired by the princess to kidnap her brother to keep him safe from their father’s murderer.
In the beginning, it was obvious that in Riyria, which is a partnership between Hadrian and Royce Melborn – Hadrian was the more gallant of the two. He didn’t care too much about the money, but he liked helping others. This propensity of his got them into trouble more often than not.
He was not too proud to delegate the tasks his partner was better at to him, which makes for a lot of funny dialogue between them. Their easy friendship and camaraderie is part of what I enjoy most when reading the books about them.
Hadrian was also the one most likely to be comforting ladies when they cry and is more open to admiring them. I thought he will be paired with Thrace at first, then he got close to Arista too (I’ve peeked at a few spoilers and I think he will end up with this princess). He is not a pompous flirt either. He is just kind and gentle, which contrasts with his built-like-a-soldier description.
In Rise of Empire, he is unhappy with their very lucrative trade of spying for the king they saved in the first book and he wants to retire. He yearns to be a soldier again and fight in the war. He feels that he is meant for something greater than a mercenary life. His partner, Royce, protects him from his destiny that was revealed to him and Arista in a vision. They go back to the small town where he was born – he is remembered by the townsfolk and loved by them. When he finds out that he is destined to protect the heir of Novron, he is determined to fulfill his destiny.
I can’t wait to read the third book in this series, Heir of Novron – even after reading all the spoilers. I can relate to the author’s wife’s infatuation with Hadrian Blackwater, but I find myself more drawn to Royce.
The Mysterious Royce Melborn
Royce Melborn is always described as aloof – I imagine him as being the dark and brooding one compared to Hadrian’s lighthearted and sunny disposition. Of the two dashing heroes, he is the brains of the operation. He is good at picking locks and solving dwarf-built puzzles.
Orphan to Assassin
He grew up in a poverty-stricken town with no family, sleeping in sewers. Discovering that he was quick on his feet and could see well in the dark, he used his skills to join a guild of thieves called the Black Diamond. He became one of their best assassins until he was set up and forced to kill his partner’s lover.
Finding a Family
He was paired up with Hadrian by Arcadius, a professor at the university in Sheridan. They worked jobs together and became very close friends. To an orphan who never had anyone in his life, Hadrian became his family.
Royce was in love with Gwen when I met him. Gwen was a seer who fled to Medford with her mother. She was destined to be there for Royce when he needed her, saving both his life and Hadrian’s. In Rise of Empire, she told Royce that he had a very long life line, probably because he was half elf. But one of the two lights in his life was going to die and Gwen was very insistent that Royce protect Hadrian. She said he was never going to forgive her if she kept him from saving his friend. Royce had asked her to marry him, he was going to retire from Riyria since Hadrian was determined to retire from their life as mercenaries. Although their romance was subtly intertwined in the story, it was enough to give Royce the romantic air that all heroes needed.
The Secret Prince
Breadcrumbs have been scattered by the author in the two books. Minions of the church being cruel to elves, saying that they were mistakes. A lot of mystery and prophecies surrounded Royce from the very beginning. And what would complete the partnership they had? If Hadrian was the knight, then Royce was the heir – he was a prince. I am so excited and rooting for the pair to claim their birthright.
The Perfect Pair of Dashing Heroes
Royce and Hadrian complement each other. One is small while the other is big. Hadrian has the brawn while Royce has the brain. The half-elf is cynical while the soldier is optimistic.
The friends are also similar, although they were mercenaries they were kind to others. Riyria would help out even if they didn’t stand to profit from it. They protected the weak and fought for people with good intentions.
Hadrian and Royce had a bond, not just twelve plus years of working together. They were closer than friends, they were family, and had each other’s backs. The two did not leave each other behind. And they were happy for each other’s good fortune.
I love this pair and their adventures. I would read them to my kids (if I had any). This is the kind of friendship I would wish on everyone.
These books are perfect for readers who love adventure, fantasy and dashing heroes.