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Review: The Legends of the First Empire 05: Age of Death

4.5* Review of Age of Death, book 5 in The Legends of the First Empire Series

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Winter blankets the land, and more than just hope has died. Prevented from invading the Fhrey homeland by the tower of Avempartha, the western army seeks a way across the Nidwalden River before the fane obtains the secret of dragons. As time runs out for both humanity and the mystic Suri, the only chance for the living rests with the dead. Having made their fateful choice, can a handful of misfits do the impossible, or are they forever lost to an inescapable grave? Do gods truly exist? Is it possible to know the future? And what lies beyond the veil of death? In the tradition of Virgil’s Aeneid, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, the most epic of tales transcend the world of the living. It’s time to see what lies in Elan’s Age of Death.

Goodreads, Synopsis

Reviews of Previous Books in Legends of the First Empire Series

  1. Age of Myth
  2. Age of Swords
  3. Age of War
  4. Age of Legend

Age of Death Review

**Recap alert—spoilers for previous books**

In the previous book, Age of Legend, the Rhunes and Fhrey are in a stalemate. Neither able to gain territory or advance their armies. Persephone seeks peace and the Fhrey seemed willing to talk. At the request of the Fhrey, Suri, the only Rhune capable of the Art (I know Gifford has shown signs), agreed to act as a negotiator. She was tricked into wearing a collar which prevents her from using the Art, was taken captive, transported to Estramnadon, and Fane Lothian is demanding she teaches him the secret of making dragons (Gilarabrywns). Unrest has also grown in Estramnadon, and Imaly has quietly been making plans to seek peace.

Meanwhile, back at the Rhune camp, Persephone’s closest friends, Brin, Moya, Roan and Gifford travelled to seek out the door to the afterlife, accompanied by Tesh, Rain, Tressa and Tekchin. Unbeknown to Persephone, all but Tesh entered the swamp, killing themselves in order to reach the afterlife. Doing so, on the word of Malcolm, who gave Tressa a key which he says will unlock any door in the afterlife, allowing them to travel between the realms.

Throughout the skirmishes in Age of Legend, Tesh took the opportunity to kill several members of the Galantians. He’d planned to kill Tekchin on the journey to the swamp, but his secret came out. Will he enter the swamp and join the other in the afterlife? If he does, can he and Tekchin work together?

“The face of a leaf is no place for a butterfly…

a caterpillar spends all its time crawling on leaves and eating, but such things no longer satisfy butterflies. The mistake, I think, is to focus on what was lost rather than what has been gained…

loss always provides something—losing twenty legs to gain two wings—the past for the future.”


Age of Legend finished on a promise that we’ll get to explore new realms, in the afterlife. Very exciting. Sullivan did not let us down. I have fluctuated between 4* and 4.5* over the past two days and I’ve settled on 4.5*. When I finished reading the book, I felt like there wasn’t enough and I kept thinking about it for several hours afterwards (usually a good sign). The book isn’t short; it’s a similar length to the other books in the series. I concluded, it’s because the book ends on such a cliffhanger. And when I say cliffhanger, I actually mean CLIFFHANGER. I couldn’t believe where the book ended. Well, I could, but I was so into the book at that moment, I turned the page and was devastated. It was the end!

Very little of the book involves happenings in the Rhune camp, except some small parts when Malcolm returns and conversations involving Persephone or Nyphron. The same cannot be said for events in Estramnadon, Suri is there, and the Fane really wants the knowledge of dragons. There is also political manoeuvring going on. However, most of the book is focussed on events in the afterlife. Following the trials and tribulations of those who sacrificed their lives in the swamp.

This instalment in the series is similar, in style, to when Persephone, and a few others, took a trip to Neith. Though, Age of Death is somewhat of a history lesson too. There is no info dumping; you learn about the history of Elan and Eton, including Gods and heroes, in a very natural way… you meet them. This is the afterlife; a place where the dead are in one of three realms: Rel, Nifrel, or Alysin. On their journey the group me a variety of characters, each enriching the story.

Age of Death is another excellent instalment in the series.

“This war won’t be won or lost by birds or dragons, nor by greed or hate, but by the courage and virtue of an unlikely few who will forfeit everything to save the future.”