Monday, March 25, 2019

Review: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings
(A Chorus of Dragons #1)
Jenn Lyons
Release: February 5, 2019
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There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens.

Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew up on storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn't what the storybooks promised.

Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family's power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.

He’s destined to destroy it . . .

Uniting the worldbuilding of a Brandon Sanderson with the storytelling verve of a Patrick Rothfuss, debut author Jenn Lyons delivers an entirely new and captivating fantasy epic. Prepare to meet the genre’s next star.

I don't read many debut novels anymore but this was one of the books my book club decided to read this year and I found it more than a little fascinating! It started off slowly and I had a hard time getting into it. But by 75ish pages in I was hooked. It was one hell of a ride and totally engrossing. Jenn Lyons has created a huge world with a lot going on and a complicated history. I kind of liked her decision to drop us right into the middle of the story with very little explanation. I was lost a bit at the first trying to get names and races sorted. I really enjoyed some of the ways she revealed information about the world. It kind of felt like reading an epic fantasy video game and I'm all here for it.

The story is told in a very interesting style which took some getting used to. I wasn't a fan of the footnotes but they worked really well with the format of the story. For the most part this book follows two timelines that are told in alternating chapters. Both are focused on Kihrin but at different times in his life. The story begins with Kihrin imprisoned with a demonic jailer and being forced to be tell his story. We have no idea how or why he is there and we will not find that out for some time. His origin story is kind of split into two parts. First, he is telling us about being sold as a slave in a storyline that will eventually bring us up to the present where he is imprisoned. That story alternates with him as boy of sixteen and will bring us up to him becoming a slave. As much as I loved the non-linear timeline, I do wish that in some parts it had stuck with the same timeline for more than one chapter at a time though.

The worldbuilding in this book was amazing! There were so many races and history that it was kind of mind boggling at first. I loved it a lot though. The history is more than a bit bloody but it was intriguing to learn about the events that lead up to the ones in this story. I also really enjoyed the politics in this too. They were complicated and intriguing. I love the idea of royal houses that can't actually rule. It was strange at first but I loved how they made up for it in other areas. The magic system was lightly touched on in this book and I hope we get more explanation in the coming ones. I do wish we had seen more of the gods and goddesses. Some of my favorite parts of the book involved them.

Slavery plays a big part in the story and Jenn Lyons wrote it in such a way that was respectful but still made me uncomfortable. It's a hard subject to deal with and is a big part of the story. I'm really impressed with how Lyons handled the whole thing.
As much as I enjoyed the worldbuilding and the plot, what I loved the most about this book was the characters. Gods! I loved Kihrin's character arc so much! He's very much a flawed protagonist but he does some really growing in the story. By the end, he's unrecognizable from the broody, rash teenager we're introduced to at the first. he doesn't quite lose the rashness but it grows on you. I really loved him a lot even though he annoyed me in places.

I loved Kihrin but I really loved the characters that came into the story to act as his foils. I absolutely fell in love with Teraeth from the first moment the arrogant assassin appeared on the page. And I adored his interactions with Kihrin so much! They may not see eye to eye but Teraeth is always there for him. Plus, the banter between the two was excellent. I also loved Tyentso! Can I just declare my undying love for her now? Because I'm totally prepared to give her my fealty. She was one of my favorite parts of the whole story and her interactions with Kihrin and Teraeth were magic!

As for romance, there wasn't much in this book. We get to see Kihrin go through what he thinks is love and see him realize later that it really wasn't. While this book was a bit light on the romance, it made up for it in the abundance of other relationships. I loved that about the story. It focused on familial relationships and friendships and the meaning of found family. It was so great! I will say that I am hoping that a certain vané and Kihrin will get together because I really ship it and want it to be end game.

Overall, I ended up really enjoying this story despite it's slow start. And I'm excited to see where Jenn Lyons takes it in the next few books. Thank heavens we only have to wait until October for the sequel!

Audiobook Note: I listened to part of this on audio and I really wish I had listened to the whole thing. The narration was fantastic!

  4 / 5 Stars

Recommended for fans of: Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss

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