Read The Viscount and the Witch Online

Authors: Michael J. Sullivan

Tags: #michael j. sullivan, #rogue, #short, #hero, #epic fantasy, #sullivan, #series, #short story, #fantasy series, #thief, #fantasy, #thieves, #adventure, #rogues, #classic fantasy, #flawed characters, #riyria

The Viscount and the Witch


The Viscount and the Witch
A Riyria Chronicles Short

Eleven years before they were framed for the murder of a king, before even assuming the title of Riyria, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater were practically strangers. Unlikely associates, this cynical thief and idealist swordsman, were just learning how to work together as a team. In this standalone first installment of
The Riyria Chronicles
, Royce is determined to teach his naive partner a lesson about good deeds. Join Royce and Hadrian in this short story (5,400 words) about one of their earliest adventures.


Praise for Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations

“Filled with adventure and clever dialog and featuring a pair of not-quite-heroes whose loyalties to each other provide them with their greatest strength, this epic fantasy showcases the arrival of a master storyteller.”
— Library Journal Fantasy Debut for September 2011

“Hair-raising escapes, flashy sword fights, and faithful friendship complete the formula for good old-fashioned escapist fun.”
— Publisher's Weekly

“This series is thrilling, laugh-out-loud-funny, heartbreaking, chilling, and whip-smart at every turn.”
— Fantasy Faction

“An exciting, out-of-nowhere swashbuckler, The Riyria Revelations by Michael J Sullivan astounds with its masterful combination of simplicity and depth.”
— Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction @ Suite 101

“[I]t's been a while since I found a sword and sorcery story I truly delighted in reading, and Theft of Swords reminded me of everything I love about the sub-genre.”
— Deluded Visions


Other Works by Michael J. Sullivan

Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations Volume #1)
— Nov 2011
Rise of Empire (Riyria Revelations Volume #2)
— Dec 2011
Heir of Novron (Riyria Revelations Volume #3)
— Jan 2012
The Crown Conspiracy (Riyria Revelations Book #1)
— Oct 2008
Avempartha (Riyria Revelations Book #2)
— Apr 2009
Nyphron Rising (Riyria Revelations Book #3)
— Oct 2009
The Emerald Storm (Riyria Revelations Book #4)
— Apr 2010
Wintertide (Riyria Revelations Book #5)
— Oct 2010
Percepliquis (Riyria Revelations Book #6)
— Jan 2012

Works in Progress

A Burden to the Earth


This book and parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by the United States of America copyright law.
Ridan and its logo are copyrighted and trademarked by Ridan Publishing. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual persons, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
A Ridan Publication
The Viscount and the Witch Copyright © 2011 by Michael J. Sullivan
Exceprt from Theft of Swords Copyright © 2011 by Michael J. Sullivan
Cover Art © 2011 by Michael J. Sullivan
Editing and layout by Robin Sullivan
Release Date: October 2011


Dedicated to my fans:
You'll never know how much your faith means to me


Table of Contents

Author's Note
The Viscount and the Witch
Theft of Swords
About the Autor


Author’s Note

Welcome to this first installment in the
Riyria Chronicles,
a short story that tells a tale about the early days of Royce and Hadrian, before they became the notorious pair known as Riyria. For those who are unfamiliar with my larger epic series
The Riyria Revelations
, fear not. This story is perfect for you as it is a standalone tale that will provide a wonderful introduction to the world of Elan and a pair of characters that thousands have come to know and love.

I’d like to take a moment to discuss my
Riyria Revelations
series and why I’m releasing this short now. This is an interesting time for me as a writer. I feel like I’m graduating from a college where I spent the last thirty years. Writing for a living is not an easy career choice, and if I had any say in the matter, I wouldn’t have selected it. But you see, I can’t stop the stories from filling my head and putting them down on paper is really the only way to stop the voices. So I have to do this or go mad, and I’m opting for door number one. It’s unfortunate that so many authors have nightmarish war stories of what they went through to “make it” and my own path is no exception. In fact, I became so disheartened in my years of struggling to get published that I quit and vowed never to write creatively again. But never is an incredibly long time.

My hiatus lasted ten years, and when I finally relented I decided to write something that had been building in my head all that time, something
just for me
—well me, my wife, and my then thirteen-year-old daughter. I had no intention of publishing it…that way just led “to the dark side.” Totally free, I could do whatever I wanted. I could resurrect the heroic tales I fell in love with in my youth. I could start the story simply and build it slowly, adding layers to characters such that we come to
know them
over a span of time. I wanted self-contained books, with their own conflict and resolution but also be able to weave an overarching mystery throughout the series.

Somewhere along the way, I started thinking, “I just might have something here. Maybe it’s worth taking a shot at publishing again.” While I continued to write, my wife started working on the
side of things: writing queries, getting an agent, finding a publisher. That process is a long tale, and I’ll leave that for another day. The short version is that it took years, which worked out because by then I had become fixated with the notion of finishing the entire series before publishing the first book.

I can’t emphasize enough just how crazy this is. Writing a single book is a herculean task writing six is just plain nuts. But there simply was no other choice. I was weaving a complex tale and often found myself having to insert something back in book one or two based on what I was writing in book four or five. I would have regretted being in a position where I couldn’t have added an important plot point because the books were already “out there.”

While I got my first book published through a small press, 2008 took its toll and they had no funds to print the second. They informed me of this fact just weeks before the scheduled release—a release that already had book club readings and store signings scheduled. The only way to make the deadline was to produce the book ourselves, so my wife, an exceptional businesswoman and entrepreneur, formed Ridan Publishing.

We adopted a schedule to put out the next book every six months, and even though they were all written, we were hard pressed to meet each deadline. What took so long? We could have just performed a bit of copy editing and then release them, but that would have been a disservice to both the books and the fans. So each book was carefully revised to make them as strong as possible. Just like a film’s cutting room floor, entire scenes were discarded and new ones written. The story remained the same, but how it was revealed changed.

Slowly I started to find an audience, mainly due to Robin’s tireless efforts at spreading the word. At the end of two years, I was selling a respectable 1,000 books a month spread over four titles. Nothing stellar or earth shattering, but I was happy with what we had achieved. At that time, October 2010, Robin started noticing that my name was turning up on Amazon’s cross-selling lists (the ones compiled for authors) for industry giants such as Abercrombie, Weeks, Rothfuss, and dozens of others. This made her wonder whether we could use this fact, and my sales record, to get some traction with a New York publisher.

We contacted an agent who had helped with a sale to the Czech Republic and she put together a proposal and sent it to just seventeen select publishers. To be honest, Robin and I thought that it would take a year or more to hear anything, which was fine with us as we had just released the fifth book, Wintertide, and the last book was scheduled for April 2011. To our surprise she had seven publishers expressing an interest immediately, and Orbit moved quickly to put together a pre-emptive bid for the series.

Both Robin and I had been very impressed with Orbit. They were not the biggest, nor the most well known, but they picked quality titles and already had an established track record for making the New York Times Bestseller List and many of their titles were getting industry award nominations and wins. Their covers were of the highest quality, and it appeared that they were doing the right things to grow their author’s careers. We accepted their generous six-figure offer (much higher than the standard five to ten thousand dollars for most debut fantasy authors) in mid November 2010. They have taken the six book series and turned it into a trilogy which will be released in three consecutive months starting in November 2011. The breakdown is as follows:
Theft of Swords
: contains
The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha
Rise of Empire
: contains
Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm
Heir of Novron
: contains
Wintertide & Percepliquis

While signing with Orbit was certainly a pivotal moment in my fledgling career, that wasn’t the only good fortune that occurred toward the end of 2010. The planets had aligned and ebook sales started to soar, not just for me but a whole host of indie authors. In October I had just released my fifth book, Wintertide, and Robin had executed some creative marketing initiatives. The result: sales that month more than doubled to 2,600, but the real onslaught happened during the Christmas season (Nov — Jan) where I saw sales of 9,500, 10,500, and 11,500 per month.

In comparison to many of the well publicized indie success stories, such as Amanda Hocking or John Locke who sold millions, my sales were very modest. However, where they had priced their books at $0.99 or $2.99 mine had been selling well at $4.95 and $6.95. Suddenly my writing, which had been bringing in only a modest supplemental income, was generating “real” money. In addition, I was also receiving substantial additional income from foreign language sales to Spain, Russia, Germany, France, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Conventional writer wisdom says, “Never quit your day job.” But I had no
day job
to quit. You see, Robin had been generous enough to act as the sole bread winner for years so that I could concentrate on my writing. One of my most satisfying moments came in April 2011 when I was able to repay her by returning the favor, and she resigned from the company she had been working for.

What does this very long winded tale have to do with the short you are about to read? Well a few things. Hopefully laying this all out will help explain what has been going on behind the scenes (especially for those who are champing at the bit for the final book and may not know the details about why it was delayed). As I write this September 2011 is coming to a close, and it’s a frustrating time for me because for the first time in years I have no books for sale. You see, the Ridan books are now officially out-of-print, and while the Orbit versions are available for pre-order, no one will be able to read them until Thanksgiving. So the first reason why I’m releasing this short is to provide a little tidbit for my fans to read while they wait.

Secondly, writing this short gave me a chance to reunite with Royce and Hadrian. I’ve missed writing them, and because of how the series was constructed, there is no possibility for a seventh book. Yes that’s right, no matter how successful the series is, I won’t tack on another book. I just can’t. The sixth book is where that story ends, if you finish reading the series you’ll know why. So my only choice was to go backward, and explore the early days of Royce and Hadrian and what occurred long before the start of the
Riyria Revelations

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