With the lights out, it’s less dangerous, Tor.com! And as I wrote a lot of this during a random blackout, hurray crumbling American infrastructure, that’s apropos. So here we are now, I’ll entertain—us! You. Whatever.
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 72, “The New Year’s Festival”, and Chapter 73, “Returning to the Red Sword.” 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!
Before we get to the meat of it, a scheduling note! The holidaze be upon us, like it or not, and thusly some skippage of postage is inevitable as I feebly attempt to have a life. So, there will be a post next Tuesday, the good Lawd willin’ and the creek don’t rise, but not one the Tuesday after that (December 3rd). AND NOW YOU KNOW. Onward!
Chapter 72: The New Year’s Festival (Talon’s story)
[In which P-A-R-T. Y? Because they’ll be whipped if we don’t like it!]
I don’t know Jenn Lyons or anything about her personally, including her age (I could find out but I have a weird aversion to Googling people I have any kind of personal or professional connection to, I know, I’m a freak), but there are an awful lot of themes running through this novel which I think particularly resonate among the millennial generation, and I think that’s probably not an accident. One of the more pointed being how the decadence and excess of the richest folk in this land—the one percent, if you will—is built, with crushing indifference, upon the backs of everyone else who isn’t fortunate enough to be them.
And no, we here in the real world don’t have slavery (not official, state-sanctioned slavery, anyway), and that’s an important distinction, I guess, but income equality is increasingly not a thing of the past these days (if it ever was). That’s the kind of thought a lot of millennials tend to get pretty mad about, these days. I can’t imagine why!
(As a member of Generation X, I can say that we hated that too, but we didn’t get mad about it so much as we got excessively bitter and sarcastic about it. And wore flannel at it. SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT)
[Caerowan:] “Do you know what a gryphon is?”
The question was unexpected enough to make Kihrin pause, and he looked back at Lady Miya to see her staring at the Voice with angry, narrowed eyes. Kihrin turned back to Caerowan. “Yes,” he said. “I’ve heard stories. It’s a monster. Half eagle and half lion.” He added, “They don’t really exist, you know.”
The small man smiled. “Did you know the name Therin means lion?”
[Thurvishar footnote:] “Therin” does comes from a root word which meant lion in the old guarem, but it’s also a common name. My own name is a variation. This is what I hate about prophecy. Any old thing becomes hugely significant.
And that’s another one—not necessarily millennial-ish specifically, but definitely partaking of the more recent rejection of the idea of predestination—while simultaneously playing into it, as all good postmodern fantasy should. The idea being to acknowledge the modern mindset of skeptical cynicism about prophecy, while still giving us our sneaky sf wish-fulfillment jollies that yes, there really is signal in the noise and prophecies can happen. I dig it, personally; it’s like having fancy idea cake, but also getting real cake.
It’s possible that no one will understand anything I just wrote in the last paragraph, but that’s okay. It’s postmodern, baby. Or something.
And then [Kihrin] saw the girl.
His heart almost stopped beating. He nearly choked from an emotion he could scarcely name.
[…] “Sheloran D’Talus,” Galen said. “That’s who she is. She’s the High Lord D’Talus’ youngest daughter.”
Uh, okay, if I’m supposed to recognize Sheloran and/or her significance to this story from either before or after this point, I really don’t. Maybe she’s nobody and it was just that she was dressed like a dragon that caught Kihrin’s eye? No idea.
I confess to being a bit sad that Kihrin’s actual musical performance was glossed over with hardly a sentence in this chapter. Yes, yes, writing about music is like dancing about architecture, thank you Martin Mull, apparently, but I could have done with a little explication on what it was like and how people reacted. I infer from this (possibly totally erroneously) that the author is not particularly musically inclined either. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Mostly!
And also blah blah Kihrin totally might be the War Child/Hell Warrior/Demon King/God Slayer/End Bringer “who will usher in the annihilation of our world” because he dressed like a chicken sorry a hawk while being the son of a lion, sort of, and that somehow adds up to “gryphon”, and yeah, no wonder Thurvishar is contemptuous of prophecies.
Chapter 73: Returning to the Red Sword (Kihrin’s story)
[In which Kihrin recruits a patsy a red shirt an ally.]
Not, mind you, that I think Kihrin really intended Jarith to be either a fall guy or cannon fodder (at least I don’t think so), but even without remembering much of what’s to come, it’s not hard to guess that one of those avenues is the most likely for poor Jarith’s fate, for throwing in with these crazy kids. As before, no good deed goes unpunished.
In any case, by involving Jarith, we have now made a plot roux, and have sautéed it long enough to get the raw flour taste out, so here’s where everything starts to seriously thicken, I believe. YAY A COOKING METAPHOR
I’m not sure the detail about Jarith’s father being the one to help Raveri aka Tyentso escape was genuine or just a ploy to gain Jarith’s cooperation, but I am sure that the revelation that Thurvishar (a) is not Gadrith’s son, (b) is in fact Emperor Sandus’s son, and (c) is half-vordreth is all true. Yay for Kihrin not totally lying to his pawn friend?
Although I’m not entirely clear on what being “half-vordreth” entails, admittedly. I’ve sort of pegged the vané as being the elf-equivalents in this world, and the morgage are basically the Orcs, but the other non-human races are thus far a lot more nebulous to me. Possibly deliberately; I’m assuming Thurvy’s heritage is going to be a lot more relevant in later installments, so it probably gets much more explicated upon then.
(Judging by height alone, vordreth probably aren’t dwarves?)
Anyway, obviously I’m being terribly cynical about Kihrin and Co.’s methods here, but there’s no doubt that his goal is still the altruistic one of freeing Thurvishar from Gadrith’s clutches, and also incidentally hopefully stopping that whole thing where Thurvy is forced to help Fathers of the Year Gadrith and Darzin summon All The Demons to Eat/Kill/Rape Everything. Always a bonus, stopping a demon invasion, sez me.
It’s not gonna work, mind you—even my swiss cheese memory remembers that much. But it’s nice that they’re trying.
Yay? Yay, sure! Enjoy your November Tuesday, kids, as much as that be doable, and come back next week for another! Cheers!