Hellooooo Tor.com! Take a break from your frantic menu-planning and org chart of Political Discussion Deflection Tactics for the dinner table and read a Reading, won’t you?
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 6, “The Rook’s Father,” which is available for your reading delectation right here.
Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!
Before we start, Scheduling Note: Owing to the impending national tryptophan coma we Americans will be participating in this Thursday, the RROK will be taking a wee hiatus on the week following. But fear not! To make up for it, when we return I will have not one but two, TWO chapters’ worth of commentary for you, ahaha!
Got all that? Good. Now, on to this week’s commentary!
It’s a pretty unique conceit, using a memory-collecting serial killer monster to stand in for third person omniscient narrative. It’s impossible to be sure yet, but it’s also interesting that Talon doesn’t appear to let her own perspective color the memories she’s reciting. We still don’t really know what Talon’s deal is, but I’m very curious to find out.
(Also, does having Surdyeh’s memories mean she killed him? I know she threatened it in the prologue… But then, she also has Kihrin’s memories, and she obviously hasn’t killed him, so it’s possible she didn’t. I hope not, anyway.)
Right, as the chapter title suggests, by Talon proxy we get to meet Kihrin’s adoptive father Surdyeh, a blind musician who is definitely more than he is pretending to be. His POV, unsurprisingly, adds a few new layers of mystery to all the other mysterious layers we’ve already got going, but also clarifies things, in a way.
Because, given his aversion to being associated with royalty, and this:
Six more months. Six more months and Kihrin turned sixteen. And it would all be over; Surdyeh would find out just how good a job he’d done of raising him.
The whole Empire would find out.
Well. It’s pretty obvious, by this point, what Kihrin’s big secret is. Or, at least, what the story wants you to think his secret is. He should maybe avoid pricking his finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel on that birthday, just in case, is what I’m saying.
Thurvishar’s footnote to the above is less clear:
I can’t help but wonder just what Surdyeh thought would happen on Kihrin’s sixteenth birthday. A more distressing idea: what if it all happened exactly as Surdyeh had originally planned?
I… can’t tell if he’s being disingenuous here, or what. Shouldn’t Thurvy know what the big reveal is, by the time he’s putting this story together? I mean, I immediately assumed that Surdyeh meant that Kihrin would be announced as the lost-lost-and/or-hidden-for-Reasons heir to… whatever obviously terribly politically fraught thing he’s heir to, but this does not seem to have occurred to Thurvishar. Which is weird. Or a lie.
Or I’m wrong about what the big reveal is, which is certainly possible. In any case, apparently what did happen near or on Kihrin’s birthday is that he got caught stealing by a demon and then sold into slavery, which I think we can agree wins the title of “worst Sweet Sixteen theme ever,” so one would hope that a man who loves Kihrin as much as Talon assures us Surdyeh does would have had nothing to do with it. But who knows.
Speaking of which, it’s always sad to see people screwing up family through misunderstandings. And also, through the condition of “being a teenager,” which is a terrible affliction that takes years to cure (and some people never do seem to shake it off), sometimes too late to repair the damage. I want to shake Kihrin and make him see how much his adoptive dad loves him in this chapter, but it’s far too late for that. Of course, I also want to shake Surdyeh for being unable to show him that love, too, so it’s not all on Kihrin’s side. But I know too well how easy it is to fall into a pattern of behavior with your loved ones, and how hard it can be to break out of that pattern once it’s set. Sigh.
Also, why exactly is Morea (the new slave girl) so startled that Kihrin has blue eyes, and Surdyeh so worried over her noticing it? I mean, sure, presumably the locals in, uh, wherever they are (Quur, I think?) are dark-eyed, but do they never have foreigners around? It’s weird that blue eyes are apparently so uncommon a sight as to occasion such comment. This is one of the many things I assume we’ll understand better later.
The Maevanos, by the way (the dance Morea does), is a terrible gross story that annoys me immensely. But any story that features slavery as a good thing in any way is automatically gross and annoying as far as I am concerned, fiddle dee dee. I guess you can expect nothing less of a society so invested in justifying an active slave trade, huh. Blarg.
And that’s what I got for this one, kids! Have a lovely Thanksgiving if you are of the USian persuasion, and a lovely random November Thursday if you amn’t, and come back in two weeks for more! Yay!