The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Reading The Ruin of Kings: Chapter 2

Greetings, O My Tor.com Peeps, and welcome back to Reading ROK! I would like you to appreciate my enormous restraint in not making a horrendous pun at this time!

This blog series will be covering the first 17 chapters of the forthcoming novel The Ruin of Kings, first of a five-book series by Jenn Lyons. Previous entries can be found here in the series index.

Today’s post will be covering Chapter 2, “The Kazivar House”, which is available for your reading delectation right here.

Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!

Haha, the conscientious mockery of what constitutes a “beginning” continues. Nice.

And the “magic rock” is basically a recording app, that’s pretty awesome too. (I would have said it’s a “tape recorder”, but I was worried that the young folks would be confused. Also, get off my lawn.)

It’s kind of amusing that Kihrin and Talon are fighting over the rock recorder, too. I can say that I do not recall ever seeing a narrative device that involved a psychopathic shapeshifting telepath forcibly telling someone else their own story. I’m not saying no one else has ever done that, I’m just saying it’s a new one on me.

So, I will tell you your story, because I want you to remember how it went, seen through someone else’s eyes. Indeed—through many eyes, from many points of view; for that is what I am now. No one can change that. Not even you, my love.

Yeah, so, (a) wow that’s trippy, and (b) I’m going to go out on a limb right now and say that the “unreliable narrator” trope is a major major theme in this book. So far we’ve not met a single narrator who can be reliably relied upon to tell the unvarnished truth. Or at least not let their own personality get in the way of facts. For example:

…all three moons were out, adding their glow to the violet, red, and shifting green aurora of Tya’s Veil. It was a sorcerer’s night. A night for working magics or sneaking past them, because Tya’s Veil appearing in the night sky meant it was easier to ‘see’ past the First Veil into her realm.4

4 Oh, how I lament the lack of education in the world. This is nothing but superstition.

Oh, Thurvishar, you snob. LOL

It’s too early to tell, of course, whether his footnoted snobbery is justified or not. At this point we don’t have enough information to discern if he’s right that everyone else is so ignorant about the magic system of this universe, or if he’s the ignorant one. Could go either way, in my opinion.

Speaking of footnotes, then there’s this one:

The other dressed in strange, heavy black robes that contrasted with his odd skin–not the healthy brown of a normal Quuran, but pale and ugly as scraped parchment. They made an odd pair. From the embroidery on his shirt and breeches to the jeweled rapier at his side, the first man was a devotee of worldly comfort; the second man a follower of ascetic reserve.5

5 A flattering observation, but you and I both know perfectly well that his lack of vanity had nothing to do with monastic discipline. Thank the gods for the house servants, or I likely would have starved to death before he remembered that children need regular meals and baths.

And… this is confusing me. Unless the intro was lying (perfectly possible), all the footnotes are Thurvishar speaking to whatever king or queen he’s compiled this manuscript for, but this seems way too familiar a tone, compared to the formality of his introduction. Even the snotty asides from previous footnotes were not this casual. So perhaps Thurvy and our mysterious monarch are closer than was previously indicated?

Also, don’t think I missed that this strongly implies that Thurvishar is the son or at least a member of the house of Dead Man Torture Guy. THE PLOT, SHE THICKENS.

This is minor, but I was bemused at Rook/Kihrin’s notion that woods like oak and pine were “exotic” but teak and mahogany were whatever. As someone who’s looked into buying teakwood furniture, I must boggle. That, along with the mentions of cypress and bamboo, indicate the Quur region leans much more toward the tropical/swampy than the temperate.

Vané: The ROK version of elves? There are always elves, after all, it’s like a rule. Whatever the case, this one did not end well, yeesh. I wonder what it means in this world when someone sucks your soul out of you and makes it into a gem? Can you be… un-gemmed, ever, or are you dead forever, sorry lol bye? I rather suspect the latter, sadly.

Ah, so the Torture Guys know Talon. And they have a pet demon, too, that’s always awesome for everyone. And I suspect, given the bits we already know, that said pet demon’s pursuit of Rook aka Kihrin did not end well for our deliberately-ambiguously-named probably-hero.

A rook, btw, is considered a “heavy” piece in chess, second only to the queen in strength and strategic value, not least for the importance of its “castling” move in order to protect the king piece. It also used to refer to a kind of thief, of course, which Talon says is why Kihrin chose it, but I find the chess connotation… intriguing, don’t you? Just throwing that out there.


So, pretty interesting so far, eh? I like! Do you like? Tell me what you think! And then come back next week for Chapter 3, “The Black Brotherhood”. Which I suspect is about… The Black Brotherhood. I’m very clever like that, you know.

Until then, my dears, cheers!

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