Verily, v’all, a volley of verbiage for vous re: this volume of verbosity! Victory!
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 44, “Fencing Lessons”, and Chapter 45, “Riscoria Tea.” 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 44: Fencing Lessons (Talon’s story)
[In which “fencing” stands for “child abuse.” Also, Galen meets Kihrin and is judgy about it.]
But, you know, probably understandably so. It’s not like Galen’s life so far has given him much incentive to give anyone, particularly his relatives, the benefit of the doubt. I remember reading the part in this chapter where he hates his brother on sight and being really sad about that. Fortunately it’s one of the few things that actually does get better, at least in the short term.
Darzin’s initial introduction gave Galen a chance to examine his new brother. He was riding on the cusp of majority, with fine features and golden-brown skin. His hair was pale—when he stepped under the light of a window it flared bright gold—and tied back away from his face. Galen thought his new brother had the sort of features women and men both would obsess over. The sort of face that could only be worn by a man who was too pretty, knew he was too pretty, and so could only be an ass about it.
I, like most people, have fairly complicated views on human beauty, and the degrees to which it is and is not a toxic factor in people’s lives, and that’s probably not an essay that’s appropriate here. But I will say that, unfortunately or otherwise, Galen’s immediate assumption that Kihrin’s physical attractiveness means he’s a dick is… not without merit.
And before you yell at me, no, I am not saying that all pretty people are assholes. I am saying that if a person’s natural inclination is to be an asshole, and they happen to be beautiful on top of that, then in my experience that person’s assholery tends to be amplified to the nth degree. Come on, you’ve all met that guy or girl, you know I’m right.
Assholery levels aside, my interest is always piqued whenever we get a physical description of Kihrin, because I keep not being able to keep a mental picture of him. This is a me thing mostly, I think; I know some people develop very specific mental images of characters they are reading about (to the point that they get very upset if a later visual adaptation casts someone who doesn’t match their concept of the character), but my mental visualization of most print characters tends to be surprisingly vague, more often than not. Even when I have specifics firmly in mind (e.g. this character is tall, red-haired, and missing a hand), the overall picture often remains nebulous. I feel like this is an advantage, generally, in that I am less likely to be bothered when casting doesn’t exactly match the book description, but sometimes it means that I miss nuances of why other characters react to that character the way they do.
I mean, it would be nice to believe that what a person (or character) looks like doesn’t affect how they are treated by others, but we all know that’s not true. The best one can hope for is that people will at least try to look past the surface and see the true person—or true asshole—inside.
(Unless you’re Darzin, of course, in which case the assholery can be seen from space. Yay?)
Chapter 45: Riscoria Tea (Kihrin’s story)
[In which Kihrin gets exposition and roofies. Fun!]
Drugging your student without their consent: It’s what’s for breakfast!
And, ugh. Yes, I suppose it is a pretty memorable lesson on the value of paranoia, and Kihrin is still weirdly (and stupidly) trusting even right after getting betrayed by a dragon (not to mention nearly every other person in his life, in one way or another), but jeez. If everyone could stop trampling all over Kihrin’s personal autonomy for five minutes that would be super great, you know?
Alas, it is not to be. But at least we get some eye-squinty worldbuilding first!
“Khaemezra isn’t vané.”
I blinked at him. “What?”
He shrugged. “She’s not vané. There are other races in the world besides vané and human. Originally there were four, all immortal, but gradually the races fell, lost their immortality. The vané are the only immortal race left. The others? The voras became human. The vordredd and the voramer retreated and hid. Khaemezra is voramer.”
Okay, four races, fine. That’s pretty standard for fantasy worlds anyway. I wonder which one are the dwarves?
Doc says later in the chapter that—well, here’s the quote, why not:
“Why… why are the vané the only race that’s still immortal?”
“Ah.” He sighed and looked down at his hands. “That’s my fault.”
“What? You’re personally responsible?”
“Yes. Me personally. The vané were supposed to have been the ones to sacrifice their immortality, not the voramer. It was, as they say, our turn.”
The hell you say, Doc.
So first of all, presumably at some earlier point, then, it was the humans’ “turn” to lose their immortality, which I guess is why they got demoted from having a cool “v” name for their race—though that begs the question of why the voramer got to keep theirs. But this passage begs a lot of questions, period—ones that I don’t think we get full answers to in this book. And the ones we do get, I, uh, don’t remember that well. So, something to look forward to, eh?
As an etymological aside, the root “vor” comes from Latin, and means “eat” (as in “voracious”, “carnivore”, etc.). Obviously the invented languages of this world don’t have Latinate roots, but the connotation is pretty unavoidable for English speakers, so I do have to wonder if that was on purpose or not. Food for thought.
Right, clearly I need to be stopped, so this is the end! Until next week, that is. Ciao for now!