Ghosts and Orwell and Willy Wonka refs, oh my! This RROK post has got it all, Tor.com.
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 54, “The Carriage Ride”, and Chapter 55, “The Pale Lady’s Judgment.” 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 54: The Carriage Ride (Talon’s story)
[In which Great Aunt Tishar gives a tantalizing impression of maybe not being 100% awful, and we are suspicious.]
Because of course you really have to be suspicious, given the abysmal track record thus far of D’Mons Being Non-Horrendous Humans. Which admittedly, Tishar herself acknowledges to Kihrin. But then again, that’s exactly what a horrendous human pretending to be a non-horrendous human would say, isn’t it.
This kind of thing is why it’s really a shame telepathy isn’t a thing. Sure, privacy would be a thing of the past, but at least you’d know whether someone was trustworthy or not. But then, something something security mumble liberty something deserve neither, fine, whatever.
Look at it this way, Kihrin: At least you don’t have the Internet. Then you have no trust AND no privacy! Yay!
*waves to Big Brother*
Ahem. Anyway. Actually, the biggest point in Tishar’s favor is that she seems to be the only person on this benighted realm that actually has any grasp of what statutory rape is and why it is bad. Of course, I’m sure that’s not the term she would use, but at least she understands that it’s Alshena who is the predator here and not Kihrin. That would have been a difficult conclusion for even most woke people to come to; most people would have seen Alshena come out of Kihrin’s room all bloody, jumped to the easiest obvious conclusion, and never looked any further. Which is no doubt exactly what Talon intended. Ugh.
So that’s one thing Tishar has in her favor. Hey, I’ll take it; it’s not like there are so many saints lying around this story that we can afford to be picky.
She also gives Kihrin a little more information about what Pedron was doing back during the Affair of the Voices:
[Tishar:] “Never forget we’ve built this empire on the backs of slaves and servants and they are—all of them—worthwhile. People hate my brother Pedron because he tried to overthrow this way of doing things, but I ask you: would that have been so terrible?”
Kihrin blinked. “He, uh… the wrath of the gods though. The risk of triggering the curse…”
She waved a hand. “He thought he could prevent that. He didn’t think he was an evil man. He thought he was doing what was right—what needed to happen for the good of the Empire. He wanted to fix those things. The tragedy is that he fell in with people who were only too willing to exploit that idealism to obtain the goals they wanted, and then set him up to take the fall should their plans be discovered.”
So, okay, I’m pretty sure this is an extremely generous reading of Pedron’s intentions, but then I’m not sure how much of his actual plans Tishar ever knew about, so possibly it’s a logical conclusion for her to draw based on the information she had. But again, her tendency towards forgiveness is another mark in favor of her joining the ranks of the Non-Horrendous.
Given that, I don’t remember for sure what happened to Tishar by the end of this book, but I will not be surprised in the slightest if she didn’t survive it. Sigh.
Chapter 55: The Pale Lady’s Judgment (Kihrin’s story)
[In which I TOLD YOU SO.]
“The test was your life,” Thaena replied. “And you have failed it. You are a murderer and a demonologist, an arrogant liar who betrayed people who trusted you and sent the souls of hundreds to Hell. What sacrifice were you unwilling to burn on the altar of revenge? You never had a life worth living. What have you done with yourself but spread misery? What do you leave to the world that made it even the tiniest bit better than it would have been without you? Spend as long as you like teaching Kihrin, assuming he will have anything to do with you. I will not be Returning you.”
Also: I TOLD YOU SO.
Granted, on first reading I thought the way Tyentso’s “I’ll become a teacher ghost” scheme would get botched would be that she’d push how long she could stay too far, or something wacky would happen that would interrupt the ritual, and that it would all almost go to shit, but then be saved in just the nick of time.
I can honestly say I was not expecting the Goddess of Death to show up, be all, “Bitch please, you suck” and torpedo the entire thing from the start. Like, ouch.
I mean, it’s not like Thaena is wrong about Tyentso. Unintentional harm is still harm, and a lot more of Tyentso’s harm was intentional than it wasn’t anyway. But still, hearing it laid out like that is… harsh.
But then, why would you expect any less from Death? I know we find out later that Thaena (and all the gods) were originally just jumped-up mortals, but nobody can claim Thaena isn’t suited to this particular godly day job.
I also enjoyed how Khaemezra was all flat affect “No, stop, don’t” at them, Willy Wonka style. Cold, but also amusing. Like goddess, like priestess, I guess.
I bought it, too, at the time. I thought Tyentso was done. Hah. Little did I know!
And it is on this lovely cliff I must leave you hanging, my dears! Come back next week for more!