Happy Hurricane Season, Tor.com! Can you feel the barometric pressure tonight? Well, nor can I, yet, thankfully. Let’s keep it that way, yes? And in the meantime, here’s a RROK 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 46, “The Crypt”, and Chapter 47, “The Mother of Trees.” 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 46: The Crypt (Talon’s story)
[In which sort-of-brothers bond and a vow is accidentally made.]
And here we have what is probably literally the only remotely normal family interaction in this entire book, which tells you how low the bar is for this family. Galen and Kihrin’s discovery of each other as actual worthy brother material was wonderfully uplifting on first reading… if rather less so in retrospect, considering what happens to Galen at the end of the book.
Still, as one of my commenters pointed out, death is a rather more transactional state here than it is in the real world, so Galen may only be mostly dead. One can hope.
Even with “all dead” still on the table, though, this was a nice chapter, mostly. Except for the part where Kihrin literally stumbled into an accidental oath to a death goddess, of course, but hey. (Also, the accidental-ness of this must by necessity be viewed with a healthy skepticism, because meddlesome deities.)
“Wizard, thief, knight, and king. The children will not know the names of their fathers, who quiet the voices of their sting.”
No kidding. Kihrin and Galen’s genealogy talk here is further complicated by neither boy having completely accurate information on their own apparently deeply twisty ancestral line. They come to the correct (I think) conclusion that Pedron is in fact Therin’s father rather than his half-uncle or whatever, but of course they are semi-wrong that that makes Pedron both boys’ great-grandfather. Pedron is Galen’s great-grandfather, but he’s Kihrin’s grandfather, on account of Therin being Kihrin’s real father instead of Darzin. Which of course makes Kihrin and Darzin brothers (or half-brothers, anyway) and Galen is actually Kihrin’s nephew.
Confused yet? Don’t worry, it gets worse later!
(I’m not even trying to deal with the maternal line right now, because the whole Lyrilyn/Miya/Talon thing has gotten muddled in my head at this juncture and doesn’t get cleared up until almost the end of the book, so I’m just not dealing with it until then.)
Chapter 47: The Mother of Trees (Kihrin’s story)
[In which sorry, your princess is in another castle!]
Okay, so, there is probably a subset of people who would find the fact that Doc’s training of Kihrin basically amounts to throwing him in a magical holodeck and letting him Mortal Combat himself into tactical savvy is trite and cheesy, but those people can bite me.
Because really, a video game in which you respawn at the save point and learn to correct whatever error you made that got you killed in the previous iteration, except real in every way that matters, is brilliant as a training scenario, and just because no one thought of it before video games became a thing doesn’t change that fact. In My Arrogant Opinion.
The only possible objection I can think of is that a virtual world might not build up the appropriate muscle tone and stamina needed to survive similar real world situations, a thing which is at least as important as the technical know-how of how to do it, but Doc’s program seems to have accounted for that essential failing of video game expertise translating into real life expertise. Maybe a bit conveniently, okay, but the fact that Kihrin seems to be there, making the actual moves (as opposed to, say, frantic button mashing to accomplish the same effect), is what makes this a viable training program where real life equivalents are incomplete and shoddy substitutes at best. (Rock Band ought to really teach you how to play guitar, dammit, I will die on this hill.)
I feel certain this is a problem someone’s going to solve for us nonfictional folk at some point, but until then, we can enjoy speculative fiction extrapolating its potential benefits and pitfalls for us ahead of time, as speculative fiction has always been happy to do. It is a perhaps unexpectedly futuristic note in the otherwise solidly historical-ish fantasy world Lyons has built here, but she’s not going to stop there, as we will see eventually, and I for one have always been rather a fan of crossing the fantasy/science fiction streams. I did grow up reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, after all.
In any case, I loved this conceit, clearly, and this virtual training program was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole book. Once I understood what was going on I was quite gleefully in favor of it.
Granted, the political entanglements of the characters involved were a bit more… entangled, but I feel like the next Kihrin chapter will likely explicate on that more, so I feel okay leaving it for the nonce.
And so, for the nonce, here is where we stop! Come back next week for more, my lovelies. Until then, cheers!