Merry June, Tor.com! Are we all dead from global warming yet? If not, perhaps you’ll have a RROK blog post to celebrate!
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 38, “The High Lord”, and Chapter 39, “In Search of Music.” Please note that going 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 38: The High Lord (Talon’s story)
[In which mucho información es descargado, and Kihrin begins to understand how profunda is his mierda.]
(As a note, my version of the book says this chapter is Kihrin’s story, but since that’s pretty clearly a typo that hopefully got fixed later, I’m leaving my notation that it’s Talon’s story alone.)
This is one of those chapters that is more or less fine to follow for just reading, but is a giant pain in the buttocks to actually analyze because of the sheer amount of twisty-turny politicky expostion it grants us. And don’t get me wrong, this is the proper junction in which to exposit twisty-turny politicky facts at the reader (mainly because this is the point at which it’s believable that the characters would exposit them at Kihrin), but that believability doesn’t do much to alleviate the complexity of it all, unfortunately. So we will have to do our best and go from there.
Basically in this chapter, then, Kihrin meets his alleged grandfather and gets a crash course in what people would probably now call “Game of Thrones-ish politics”, because even though of course GOT was far from the first (or last) fantasy story to thrive on elaborately byzantine dirty fantasy politics, these days it’s certainly the most famous example of it around, so we can probably all be forgiven for that being the first thing to jump to the brain whenever we start squinting and wishing for organizational charts while a character is talking about how Our Aristocrats Are Different, Except For How They Totally Aren’t.
[Alshena:] “We are House D’Mon, one of the twelve families who once ruled the Empire. But such ruling is no longer allowed, and it is forbidden for any direct member of a royal family to make laws. Now, instead of ruling the empire’s politics, we rule its economy, which is better. We have all the money and none of the irritating responsibility.”
Therin also explains later in the chapter that while in this system the Houses can’t technically rule, they can effectively control those that do rule through ensuring that their Ogenra, or bastard offspring, are the ones who get elected as Voices. As a system this is nuts, of course, but scarily, that doesn’t necessarily detract from its believability as a thing that could exist. If you don’t believe me, do some research on the Koch brothers, just for example, and mourn for the probable demise of true representative democracy on this planet.
Now, of course I can’t speak to whether Lyons was actually making a pointed real world reference here, or if her version of fabulously corrupt pseudo-feudal politics just happened to strike a nerve re: modern events, but let’s just say I have my suspicions and leave it at that, mmkay.
And then of course there’s the actual plot-relevant mystery, which is why Darzin had Kihrin declared a Real Live D’Mon Heir instead of a random (and electable) Ogenra. I… actually don’t remember why, now, except that it probably has something to do with (a) demons and (b) giving Therin the finger. So mature, that Darzin, y’all.
Chapter 39: In Search of Music (Kihrin’s story)
[In which Kihrin tries to find a harp, and instead finds frickin’ Teraeth.]
Who, of course, does dole out (some) good (partial) information, but does in the most dicktastic way possible, because he is frickin’ Teraeth. Points for character consistency, I guess, but wow how much am I with Kihrin in wanting to kick him in the teeth on general principle.
Seriously, the bit where they had magical gate portals off the island this whole time and Teraeth didn’t tell Kihrin about it is plenty enough teeth-kickin’ justification all on its own, if you ask me. But the whole thing about “yeah, I met your dream girl in the afterlife this one time, she’s probably a demon sorry brah” is certainly not lessening Teraeth’s teeth-kickin’ eligibility credentials one bit. Could this guy be any more obnoxious about his infodumps? C’mon, really.
“Demons can freely travel in the Afterlife, but so can gods,” Teraeth said.
“She’s not a god,” I answered automatically.
“Oh, because you would know. Aren’t you the expert now?”
This is pretty hilarious foreshadowing, I must say.
And right, this is the bit I forgot, that Teraeth’s dad is Terdinel the Black, about whom we are gonna learn a whole lot more Real Soon Now in a fairly groovy way. His dad is also totally Doc Bartender Guy, but we knew that already. Yay?
Sort of yay, yeah! And that is the high(ish) note we will leave it on. I hope you are enjoying the first weeks of summer more than my A/C filter is, and will see you next Tuesday!