Happy Fat Tuesday, Tor.com! As necessity must dictate, today marks the end of two good things: the Mardi Gras season, and this Reread! How time does fly. Join me for the final installment, won’t you?
This blog series covered 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 89, “Parting”, and Chapter 90, “Final Notes”.
Got that? Great! Click on for the rest!
Chapter 89: Parting
[In which consequences are a thing, and l’empereur n’est mort que pour la plupart, vive l’Empereur!]
(Or, “the emperor is only mostly dead, long live the Emperor!”)
Tyentso, once called Raverí, inhaled deep and arched her back to suck in more sweet air as she Returned.
[…] Above her head, directly over her head, a glowing circle of light bisected by a white line floated. She stared at both in confusion for a moment before she realized what she was seeing.
Tyentso began to laugh.
No living thing could stay inside the Arena after the Emperor’s death, but Tyentso had—at that singular perfect moment—not been alive, so her body hadn’t moved.
She reached up with both hands to claim the Crown and Scepter of Quur.
I was initially really confused by this, and even now I am not 100% sure I’m following the reasoning on why Tyentso ended up the Emperor. Because it goes like this: Gadrith, wearing the Stone of Shackles, tricks Emperor Sandus into killing him, thus switching bodies with Sandus and becoming, by default, Emperor. Okay, fine. Then Tyentso duels Gadrith in the Arena and loses (and dies). Right, got it. Then, Gadrith duels Kihrin in the Arena, and Kihrin wins by tripping over The Purloined Sword, claiming it, and using it to shatter the Stone of Shackles a split second before killing Gadrith, so the body switching clause doesn’t kick in.
Which, yay, but… why doesn’t Kihrin also become the Emperor at that point? This was where I was getting hung up; if this was explicitly explained in this chapter or the previous one, I missed it. However: Thurvishar does tell Kihrin in this chapter that holding Urthaenriel protects him, Kihrin, from all magic, but also prevents him from sensing it or using it himself. So, since the passing of the Emperor title is pretty solidly magical in nature, I’m tentatively concluding that Kihrin’s sword-based immunity to magic means he couldn’t be crowned Emperor. Right? Maybe!
So, then, Kihrin waltzes off with the sword, uncrowned, and the ritual defaults to whoever is the next person left standing alone and alive in the Arena, which ends up being a resurrected Tyentso. Right? Right! I think!
Or, another way it works, as pointed out by intrepid commenter “Aveng” in the previous post, is that since Sandus’s body didn’t “die” when Gadrith stole it, that didn’t count, and the fight to the death Arena ritual wasn’t invoked, because the Emperor didn’t technically die. But then Kihrin killed Gadrith-in-Sandus’s-body, which apparently did count as the Emperor dying, which then invoked the Arena ritual and kicked everyone out of the Arena to restart the gladiator death trial. But then no one except a resurrected Tyentso showed up at the Arena, so she won by default. This probably makes more sense than my version, don’t you think?
Either way: Clever. A very nice twist. I appreciated it even when I didn’t fully understand it. All hail Empress Tyentso!
In other news, Kihrin shattering the Stone of Shackles has ruined gaeshes for everyone, which initially seems like a good thing until that party pooper Thurvishar explains why it sucks:
“The pacts that allow for the summoning of demons hinges on them being able to tap on to the power of the Stone of Shackles to gaesh—if they can’t do that, then the contracts are nullified. So someone has freed the demons, just as prophecy predicted, but it wasn’t Gadrith or Kaen.”
Yeah, oops. Also, yikes. The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again, my friends. It’s seriously like the worst law.
And, now, to wrap things up!
Chapter 90: Final Notes
[In which self-explanatory chapter title is self-explanatory.]
Basically the laugh here is that finally we find out just who Thurvishar has been transcribing this story for all along: newly minted Empress Tyentso, LOL. Considering how often both she and Thurvishar have been characters in the story, that had to have been an interesting experience for both of them.
Especially Tyentso, whose journey as a character definitely included enough laid-bare low points that a person might squirm to see them so displayed. Fortunately being mostly dead twice over seems to have matured Tyentso quite a bit, so hopefully she’ll take it all in stride.
(Selfish aside: I totally understand why she would choose to stick with “Tyentso” as her given moniker, but I must confess I think “Raverí” is a much cooler name. Oh well.)
I wonder how everyone reacted to a GASP woman being the new Emperor? I do hope the next book shows us some of that. I also would be very interested to see what kind of person a non-gaeshed Thurvishar will turn out to be; He’s clearly pretty tight with Tyentso, but he was definitely set up to be a character who could go either way when it comes to Lightside vs. Darkside.
In any case, Thurvishar’s final notes set us up for the events of the next novel nicely. Which, from all appearances, looks to be demon wars aplenty, alongside whatever is going to happen with Kihrin and The Purloined Sword and his being a reborn god and also split in half with his shadow self by his asshole brother and alla that. Also Kihrin is apparently going to Jorat to look for a knight? I think this might refer to Elena/the Jorat demon woman from Hell, but I could be wrong. I’ll have to read the next book to see, I guess!
And thus, rather to my surprise, we come to the end of The Ruin of Kings—and of this blog series! I do hope you all have gone on/will go on to read the rest of this series; there’s always room for more good yarns in one’s life. The Ruin of Kings was twisty and fun and occasionally brutal, but always absorbing and frequently thought-provoking. Did you like it? Let me know what your overall thoughts may be!
I also hope you have enjoyed this reread! I think it went pretty well. I’m sorry to see it end, but not too sorry, for I have Major New Things coming up for your delectation on Tor.com, O My Peeps, and I am very excited to get started on them. Please keep a weather eye out for an announcement post Real Soon Now, okay? Okay!
Until then, my dears, I wish you love, luck, and lollipops. Cheers!
Leigh Butler is a writer, blogger and critic, who feels that humor, weirding of language, and the occasional application of head to desk is the best way to examine the impact of sociocultural issues on popular SF works (and vice versa). She has been a regular columnist for Tor.com since 2009, with multiple series to her name: The Wheel of Time Reread, A Read of Ice and Fire, the Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia, and now the Reread of the Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons. Leigh lives in New Orleans, and therefore advises alla y’all to let your good times roll.