Happy Hallows Eve Eve, Tor.com! And welcome back to another installment of Reading ROK!
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 3, “The Black Brotherhood”, which is available for your reading delectation right here.
Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!
There’s a loooot of narrative construction going on in this chapter, which is good because we’re at the point where we would appreciate a little more explanation about just what the heckity heck is going on here. Or at least I’m at that point, and I’m the one writing this thing, so nyah.
Sooo Vané are ageless and come in various improbable colors: not destroying my “they’re totally elves” theory any. Also, the newly introduced Manol vané seem to be fulfilling the “deeply badass” square on the They’re Totally Elves bingo card, even if the Kirpis version are not (I’m presuming the vané in the previous chapter that got soul-gemmed was Kirpis; not exactly detracting from the picture of them so far as mostly victims).
Also, something tells me I should figure out how to create a keyboard shortcut in Word for the é character, because this “insert symbol” bullshit is getting old fast. But I digress!
I’m a little unclear on whether the Black Brotherhood are all vané, or if it just happens that this semi-family unit are (I’m also unclear on whether Kalindra is also Khaemezra’s offspring along with Teraeth, or if she used “Mother” as a title. Calling a high priestess “Mother” is fairly common, after all). Either way, they seem to be a secret assassin branch of a religious sect Kihrin is more generally aware of, the priests of Thaena. Assassin cults: always tons of fun.
I’m vaguely surprised that vané—who, like many versions of elves, to all appearances are not fans of humans (and why should they be, we suck)—still participate in the same basic belief system. This would seem to indicate that worship of the three goddesses (Thaena and, uh, the other two I’m too lazy to go track down the names of right now) is near-universal on this world.
Relos Var: Apparently he’s Kind Of A Big Deal. What kind of human can be both powerful and long-lived enough to sneer at an elf for being a young whippersnapper, I wonder? (Can I say, though, that for some reason I really dislike the name “Relos Var”? It just is not aesthetically pleasing to me. Fortunately, it’s probably a pseudonym anyway. At least I hope so.)
Either way, not someone you want with a vendetta against you. Yet more proof that Kihrin has the most shit life ever, not that we needed any.
Which is probably why it’s all the more delicious that he has the sheer balls to steal this world’s equivalent of the “Heritage in Bloom” necklace right in front of a group of extremely powerful people who either want him dead or are literally holding his free will in their hands. Sheeeit, man. Then again, I guess it’s not like he has that much to lose, either, but still, lesson learned: don’t let Kihrin handle things you want to keep.
Although, Kihrin is lucky his initial ballsiness re: being willing to lie about the necklace didn’t work out, otherwise he’d be very dead by now. Or maybe worse than dead, since “dead” seems to be something of a negotiable (and varied) state for these people. Like, are you “dead” if your body’s gone but your soul is trapped in a gem? Or is that way worse? Inquiring minds would really rather not know!
Meanwhile, snarky footnotes continue to snark:
The vané’s eyes glowed3
3 One presumes not literally.
*snort* Thanks, Thurvy. (Then again, this is actually a world where that might need clarification, so.)
“I want the young man,” Relos Var said.
The vané sneered. “Perhaps you should send courtship gifts first.”
The air simmered between the two men. I wondered if the Black Brotherhood had bought me for no other reason than to keep me out of Relos Var’s hands. That option seemed likely unless they knew who I really was, knew about the Stone of Shackles around my neck.
This is an interesting remark from Kihrin. I’m not sure whether it indicates that Kihrin actually has some idea of who he actually is (since come on, he’s obviously not just some rando street urchin thief), or if by “who I really was” he only means “the rando street urchin thief who stole the Stone of Shackles”. In other words, does he think it’s him who’s the prize, or the prize he stole?
If the latter, I bet he’s a lot more confused about it now.
[Relos Var:] “We could help each other, High Priestess. Our goals are not so different.”
[Khaemezra:] “Poor child, you think so? Foolish—but then, you always confused death with annihilation.”
Well, that’s not ominous at all. Let’s just say, I like a guy whose goals apparently include “annihilation” even less than I like the name “Relos Var”. Could be we have found our Big Bad for the novel, hmm?
And that’s what I got for this one, kids. Whaddaya think? Tell me in the comments, and come on back next week for Moar!