Happy spring, Tor.com! Come and read about murder, mayhem and hitlizards to celebrate, won’t you?
This blog series will be covering The Ruin of Kings, the first novel 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 24, “The Hawk’s Talon,” and Chapter 25, “Into the Jungle.” Please note that from this point forward, these posts will likely contain spoilers for the entire novel, so it’s recommended that you read the whole thing first before continuing on.
Got that? Great! Click on for the rest!
Chapter 24: The Hawk’s Talon (Talon’s story)
[In which our two storytellers meet for the first time, technically, and a lot of people die.]
First of all, it’s kind of amusing to consider that in the conceit of the framing story, Talon is verbally telling Kihrin about their first meeting, including his own mental picture of her, which is kind of hilarious when you think about it.
Secondly, I’m pretty sure Talon’s alleged outfit (“black leather belts, worn crisscrossed over her breasts, her stomach, her hips”) featured on a character in some Mortal Combat-esque video game I played a thousand or so years ago. I’m also pretty sure I found it as ridiculous then as I do now. I mean, I get the idea – if I were a shape-shifting mind-reading brain-eating nearly-invincible monster, I’d wear whatever the fuck I wanted too – but “whatever the fuck I wanted” would probably at least involve cloth, come on. A bunch of leather straps, digging into various, er, crevices, and sticking to your skin and rubbing and chafing whenever you move? Ugh, what? No.
(This is, incidentally, my foremost argument against skimpy boob armor, even ahead of the very large practicality issues. Yes, no armor is meant to be actually comfortable, but I challenge anyone to try on an actual metal bikini and be like “oh yeah I can totally ride a horse/fight/perform any remotely strenuous task in this bullshit for hours/days/apparently my entire adult life.” No, no you would not, because that is stupid.)
This chapter is also notable for being where Kihrin is forced to kill for the first time, which I always kind of feel like is something that should be… not commemorated, obviously, but noted, for a character. It’s a regrettable but inevitable milestone for anyone in a story like this one.
So, I understand what’s going on in this chapter a lot better than I did the first time around, but there’s still some things that confuse me. The main one being, if Talon was sent to kill Kihrin without knowing who he really was, who gave her the job? It wouldn’t have been Darzin, right, because he definitely needs Kihrin alive.
But then, Darzin only just learned who Kihrin was too, I think. So maybe he gave the order and hadn’t had time to rescind it before Talon found Kihrin. This would also be why he sent the demon after Kihrin too; at that point all he knew is that Kihrin was the thief that stole the Stone of Shackles. Maybe that’s it.
This chapter is where we finally learn a little bit more about mimics, and as usual, the more we learn the more terrifying they are in general and Talon becomes in particular. It’s not bad enough that she’s a shape-shifting mind-reading brain-eating nearly-invincible monster, oh no, she’s also stone cold crazy. Or at least is doing a marvelous imitation of it.
But Talon’s overall Deal is one of the more tangled webs this book weaves, and we get a big chunk of it in an upcoming chapter anyway, so I’ll leave it till then.
Chapter 25: Into the Jungle (Kihrin’s story)
[In which we learn lizard/snake men can’t jump (or climb), and Kihrin gets re-introduced to Kalindra.]
(Okay, they’re not hitlizards. But come on, who can resist a chance to use the term “hitlizards”?)
Though I’m not quite sure why snake and/or lizard people couldn’t climb, really. Both snakes and lizards tend to be pretty damn good climbers as a general rule. Eh, maybe it’s like komodo dragons, who are good climbers as kids but get too big for it as adults. Human-sized lizards, therefore, really might not be able to climb at all.
(Though wouldn’t having human accoutrements like opposable thumbs help with the climbing?… you know what, I’m overthinking this, and am now moving on.)
[Kalindra’s] black hair was matted in long locks, the knots fitted with copper rings, skulls, and roses. She wore a patchwork of leather pieces cut into a tight-laced vest, a loincloth, and tall boots, over a brown and green chemise net that likely made for excellent camouflage in the jungle. Under the netting I saw a lacy outline of black tattoos. She wore two daggers in her belt, a curved sword, and the little sister of the long chain the lizard man used.
If nothing else, Kalindra would make a badass cosplay subject for a person of color. I’m assuming she didn’t look quite this badass the first time we met her, otherwise I might have remembered her better.
And that’s what I got for these chapters, kids! Happy Tuesday, and come back next week for more!