Rise of Empire - Michael J. Sullivan Come to think of it, "Rise of Empire" is a pretty apt name for this middle omnibus. In the two books it contains, the bad guys increase in power and strength, gaining the upper hand while our heroes suffer several setbacks. I can't help but be reminded of the second movie of a certain sci-fi trilogy. No one loses any hands though.

Nyphron Rising:

One thing I'm really enjoying about this series so far is that the plot is always moving forward, and things are always happening. There isn't much padding to these books, thus I am never tempted to skim, not even the lengthy bits that fill in the history and mythos behind the world because every piece of lore information is important. I like that the author gets right down to business, in general cutting out all the superfluous junk without skimping on the details.

That said, I felt the pacing was a bit off in this third story. Certain bits felt rushed, especially towards the end with the final climactic battle, which I felt was over and done with much too quickly. One of the important fight scenes even happened "off-screen" while we were following another character's point-of-view. I couldn't believe it when it was all over, and when the fact finally settled in, I had to admit it was a bit of a let down.

Of course, the last page of this story had me all riled up again. Warning: this author has a knack for making you want to drop everything after you finish and pick up the next story right away.

The Emerald Storm:

Luckily, reading these omnibus editions meant I had the next story right at my fingertips, how convenient!

This story was much more interesting, though I was at first unsure of why certain plot threads were unraveling the way they were. It just seemed like the author wanted an excuse to send Hadrian and Royce on to the high seas, until I got close to the end and it all came together. In any case, this adventure was a bit different, as most of it occurs aboard a ship as our heroes travel to a far away land to save their king and Melengar from imperial takeover.

I'm still enjoying the characters, especially Hadrian, who has been growing on me with every single installment of this series. I like how his character and Royce's play off each other, but the two men are different enough and bring their own unique skills to the table, keeping things in these stories interesting. Everyone in these books seem to have a role to play, even some of the supporting characters we met in The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha who return to make an appearance and are central to the plot. Mr. Sullivan obviously has everything all planned out, and I am very interested to see how it'll all turn out.

Final verdict: averaging out my thought and feelings on both stories in Rise of Empire, this edition probably gets a 3.5-4 stars from me. I really liked the second story, but wasn't so keen on the first (though it wasn't bad by any means!)