Hello, Tor.com! Enjoying yourself this fine December Tuesday? Heard your 11111th rendition of Jingle Bells yet? Ready to murder something yet? Well, don’t do that; instead, come read about something that has nothing to do with Christmas or holidays or bells whatsoever—this blog! I am here for you, my peeps.
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 9, “Souls and Stones”, which is available for your reading delectation right here.
Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!
Okay, so wow there was a lot of information dispersed in this chapter. Which is good, since that’s only what I’ve been asking for since the beginning, but it’s a lot to take in, and some of it is more confusing than it is illuminating, but that’s probably only to be expected at this stage of things.
But first things first: Oh look, Kihrin lived, yay!
Though (apparently) he wouldn’t have if he hadn’t stolen a magical necklace that’s (apparently) very invested in his survival. So, you know, good call on that particular feat of thievery, I guess?
Or maybe not, given the later revelation that the Stone of Shackles is very aptly named:
“There are eight Cornerstones. Two stones for each of the four founding races. Each different, each with a different awful set of powers, each meant to usurp one of the Eight Gods. […] Listen to me, because this is important: that glittery rock on your chest embodies a concept, and that concept is slavery. Every slave who has ever crawled or squirmed or died at the end of a lash feeds it, just as every death feeds Thaena. You wear an abomination around your neck and it makes the world a more terrible place by the fact of its existence.”
OH GOOD, THAT’S LOVELY. Gosh, who wouldn’t want to realize they’re wearing a physical manifestation of one of the worst inventions in human history around their neck? UH, ME, THAT’S WHO. Ye gods.
Speaking of which, I have no idea what it means that these Cornerstones are trying to usurp the gods, that seems… odd. And also, not a good idea. Presumably we’ll get more information on that later.
[Kihrin:] “Oh, well in that case, sure, Juval had someone summon up a demon and that’s who gaeshed me. […] Juval was furious when he realized he’d been tricked into committing high crimes against the Quuran Empire. It’s not like they’d just smile and dismiss putting a Quuran prince in the rowing galley for a season as ‘just a misunderstanding.’ I convinced him that if he killed me, the priests of Thaena would just lead the Quuran navy to his sails even quicker. He figured ripping out my soul also solved the problem.”
Well, at least we’re no longer beating around the bush about the whole “Kihrin is of royal blood” thing. I mean, various previous chapters hinted about it pretty strongly but this is the first time it’s been said in so many words.
This also seems to (kind of) clear up whether Kihrin had been gaeshed and sold into slavery on that night in Kazivar House, or if it happened later; apparently it was later—i.e. on The Misery. What is still not clear is what happened in between the time Dead Guy sent the (first?) demon after Kihrin in the house, and how he ended up stowing away (?) on Juval’s ship and from there getting gaeshed and sold into slavery. Evidently some shit went down in the interim, y’all, I’m just saying.
Also not clear: what the deal is with this Miya person, who is (apparently) Khaemezra’s granddaughter? And yet who is also someone Kihrin seems to feel very strongly about? Bizarre. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Miya’s been mentioned before this point, so basically all of Kihrin and Khaemezra’s back and forth about her was pretty confusing, honestly. I’m assuming she is involved in this interim period we as yet do not know anything about, but we’ll see.
Also gross: the story about Pretty Boy aka Darzin D’Mon and what he likes to do with rentboys. Ugh. I have to say, I’m having trouble even figuring out how a brothel that exists to sell off its wares for perverted murdering purposes even stays in business. Why would anyone go work there, no matter how desperate they might be, you know?
There was a lot more, but the upshot of it all is that there’s still an awful lot we don’t know about Kihrin and his heritage, and what his “plan” was that presumably involved that heritage, and why Khaemezra thinks it was a damn good thing Kihrin’s plan went to shit. I don’t know whether Kihrin should trust her, really, but (a) people who free slaves, even if only slaves from one particular race, are probably better than the alternative, and (b) training of any kind sounds like it’s better than the alternative, too. Assuming it’s all on the up and up, of course. Which is the big question, isn’t it.
Hopefully, the Black Brotherhood is what Khaemezra says it is. If they are, Kihrin’s lot may be significantly improved; if not, Kihrin is in some pretty deep shit.
“Why me, again?”
“There’s a prophecy.”
Dude, there’s always a prophecy. Prophecies, I feel safe in saying, are assholes. Never met one that didn’t epically fuck up the life of some poor farmboy/street urchin/hobbit/scullery maid who was just trying to make a living over here, man, why you gots to be like that? Fuckin’ prophecies, amirite?
Rite! And that’s what I gots for this one, kids. Did I miss anything? Let me know! And also: Be well, stay safe, avoid and/or wallow in the holiday spirit as your spirit sees fit, and I’ll see you next week with the next chapter! Cheers!