Greetings, girlseth and boyseth! To console you for the loss of your Daylight Savings privilege of not going home from work in FREAKIN’ DARKNESS (ugh), have a new Reading The Ruin of Kings post! Yay!
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 4, “Butterbelly”, which is available for your reading delectation right here.
Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!
Talon’s got the stone again, oh my. Maybe Kihrin is resigned to her chiming in every other minute by now.
Rook stepped into the shop, looked behind him, and shuddered as he closed the door. He stopped only long enough to rub the head of Butterbelly’s bronze almost-twin—his Tavris statue, fat god of merchants and profit. The gesture was habitual, done for luck.
At first when I saw the chapter title I was like “Butterbelly, what the hell”, but this passage, with its obvious shoutout to the tradition of rubbing the belly of the Laughing Buddha, made the reference pretty obvious: ah, Buddha belly, got it.
FYI, the Laughing Buddha is not actually the Buddha, as in Siddhartha Gautama the founder of Buddhism, but a Buddha, a Buddhist monk named Budai (or Hotei, or Pu-Tai, depending on who you talk to) who may or may not be an actual historical figure known for being, basically, very fat and jolly and happy and, evidently, someone who charmed everyone so much he’s still known for being adorable a thousand years later, which, hey, there are worse legacies. He’s the patron saint of restaurateurs and fortune tellers in our world (the Chinese restaurant my dad always used to take me to had a huge statue of him at the door, and we dutifully rubbed his belly for luck every time we came), but there’s definitely good (if considerably darker) logic in making him the patron of merchants and profit. Getting fat, metaphorically, and all that.
We get our first real physical description of Rook aka Kihrin here, who is apparently distinctly un-Laughing Buddha-like in just about every way. We knew from the last chapter that he was rather unusually tall, and that he stood out in some way that made the Black Brotherhood unhappy about hiding him, but Butterbelly-via-Talon’s POV assures us that the reason is because he’s “pretty”, in a way that is a “walking advertisement of foreign ancestry”. Also that he doesn’t look good with black hair, meaning that he’s probably a natural blond or some other lighter color. I mention this mainly because I always enjoy when you get to know a character from a (mainly) internal POV and then finally get to see him or her from an outside perspective. It’s like discovering a previously hidden puzzle piece of the character you’re getting to know.
Also, since we’re told in the chapter subtitle that this is Talon’s story, I have to wonder if Butterbelly is still alive now that Talon obviously has his memories. All things considered, it’s pretty unlikely. God, she’s creepy.
We also learn that Kihrin has a foster father named Surdyeh that he’s trying to support, which is a soft spot I would not have expected from previous chapters and yet is also not much of a surprise. It definitely contributes to the picture of Kihrin having more compassion than you would think his upbringing would have allowed. Though I don’t think this is the father Talon threatened him with in the introduction, which indicates that there’s a good chance Surdyeh is also dead in the present-day. Fun!
“Ooo… look what we have here, a pretty necklace. Saving this for your next boyfriend?” Faris taunted.
Oh good, apparently 20th century-ish American “omg me implying you could be gay is the sickest burn EVARRRR” homophobia is de rigueur here too. Yaaaaaaaay.
The teenager stared at him. Something in that stare made Butterbelly uncomfortable. Something in that stare wasn’t natural, wasn’t healthy. It made him feel small and petty.
He wondered if maybe those rumors were true.
Ooh, what rumors, I want to know the rumors!
Butterbelly also gives us the possibly-related intel that the two not-gems Kihrin has—the one he stole, and the one he’s apparently had since childhood—are tsali stones, “special magical vané gems”. I’m sure that this information will not turn out to be plottily relevant AT ALL.
So what do we think? Is Kihrin actually vané—or maybe part-vané? After all, he’s got vané jewelry, and vané are probably elves, and elves that do not answer to the name of Keebler definitely tend toward the tall and pretty end of the spectrum. I’m just saying!
And that’s what I got for this one, kids! Tell me your thoughts in the comments, and come back next week for more! Cheers!