Book Review: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Summary:

trok-cover

Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew up on storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn’t what the storybooks promised.

Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family’s power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.

He’s destined to destroy it . . .

Goodreads

Thoughts:

This is a book that has everything in it and the kitchen sink–dragons, necromancers, wizards, immortal races, super powered characters, magical artifacts, demons.  It’s like someone put Rothfuss, Lynch, and Erikson in a blender, sprinkled some D&D on top, and this is the result. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! Personally, I enjoyed the heck out of this book, but I can totally see it not being a fit for every reader.

Let’s start out with the iffy. The structure of this book is non linear in an interesting way. For most of the book the story alternates back and forth between two different POV characters, each one telling Khirin’s story, each one in a different timeline. First we have Khirin himself telling his story from a certain point up to the events which lead to the end, and then we have Talon telling Khirin’s story from an earlier point up to the point where Khirin’s tale begins. Easy, right? Nope! Because we’re constantly switching back and forth between the two timelines this makes the story hard to follow. Even in audio where there are different narrators for the different timelines, I quickly lost track of which timeline was before the other and found myself questioning which events were taking place before the others. (I’ll be honest, even now I think I’m right about the order but I could still be wrong.) Further complicating things there is also a third POV who is notating the two stories being told and interrupts in footnotes throughout the tale, taking over the story completely near the end.

And if the structure wasn’t enough to complicate things….well, everything else is complicated too! There are a lot of characters who aren’t who you think they are for one reason or another. There are people/creatures that are mimics that can shape shift into other people. There are magical items which cause people to swap bodies. There are people who are maybe dead but maybe not. There are people who manipulate others and lie about all kinds of things. Trying to keep track who is who and how everyone is related? Good luck! I need a chart or a graph or something. I think by the end it’s sorted for the most part but at this point I don’t know what to believe. The thing is, if being able to keep track of all of this is something that is important to you as a reader then you’re probably going to have a rough time with this one. But. If you let yourself go and just enjoy the ride thinking ‘well, it’ll all come together at some point’ then you’ll probably have a much better time with this book.

The Ruin of Kings is convoluted as all get out and I spent much of the time thinking ‘what the hell is happening? who is that? wait, what?’. And yet, I had a fun time with it.

The world-building in this is really fun because it’s so busy. You get information but I don’t know if we’re expected to remember any of it except for the most important things. Like I said earlier, this world has A LOT going on. It does, in some respects, remind me very much of D&D–the magical artifacts such as swords and jewelry, the types magic users and spells. At one point I think someone accidentally cast lightning bolt! But also within the world is a lot of politics among powers within the Empire. There are various lands with different kinds of people, there is slavery, there’s an assassin’s guild (pretty much). Also, did I mention politics? Yeah, there are a ton of people vying for power within this structure of important families. Oh, there are also gods. AND A PROPHECY. Yup! But, even with there being so very much of everything, it all felt familiar in some ways because these are the types of things you expect as a fantasy reader–maybe just not all at once. Again, somehow the blender worked really well for me here in taking the familiar and creating something new and fun.

The other thing that really held me to the story is Khirin’s character. He was just so utterly likable to me. You want to see him win in the end, defeat the Big Bad and save the Empire (even though the Empire hasn’t always treated him well, if we’re being honest). There are other characters that are fun too. I particularly loved the dragon! What a crotchety, powerful, old thing. He’s a crazy killer beast but also kind of hilarious. Speaking of, there’s a good amount of humor sprinkled throughout, some of which had me laughing out loud.

Overall, I really did love this book. It’s a book that puts the epic in epic fantasy, if not for the length, then for the breadth and ambition of the work. 4/5 stars.

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30 thoughts on “Book Review: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

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  1. This is definitely a book that is the very definition of epic. Yes, a bit busy, yes, a bit difficult to keep track of but also satisfying in spite of it. I did have niggles and it wasn’t perfect but I thought it was a solid start to the series and also rated it 4/5. It will be interesting to see how the second book pans out because the element of surprise to many of the aspects has been revealed and the narration used here will surely not be possible a second time round?
    Lynn 😀

    1. Yeah, I definitely think it’s a book that’s going to be pretty decisive. That being said, I loved it. It’s a big book and a lot to commit to but was totally worth it for me. Apparently I like crazy rides 😂😂

  2. I’m looking forward to picking this one up! I saw it in my local library the other day – just got to finish my current lot of books first – and it sounds like it will be right up my street.

  3. I’m glad to see a positive review from you for this one! I’ve had an ARC that I’ve sort of been putting off because I’m hesitant after seeing so many mixed reviews (and it’s just so big with small font, haha). It definitely does sound like a complicated structure with so much going on… I’m hoping to pick this up soon with an open mind and will try not to be too overwhelmed, haha. Really great review!

  4. The more I think about this book, the more I realized that I liked the experience more than I liked the plot. Because I could not explain the plot to you if I tried. I could not explain the prophecy. I had forgotten there was a prophecy. I have no idea who is related to who. And yet I really enjoyed READING this book.

  5. It sounds complex and that complexity sounds fun to me. Am adding it to my TBR. I’ll need to read the physical book so that I don’t get lost.

    1. I have heard there is a genealogy chart in the back of the book but the chart contains spoilers because part of the plot is that you don’t really know who Khirin’s parents are. Hope you enjoy this one!

      1. Oh thanks for that warning. I won’t look at it when I begin the book but I’m sure I’ll succumb to temptation and check it out in the middle or whenever my curiosity gets the better of me. I don’t do well with mysteries. I always spoil myself.

  6. Happy to see that you loved it! I want to read this one as well, but should pobably make sure I can really focuss on it, so I won’t get lost in the story haah

    (www.evelynreads.com)

  7. Wonderful review and glad you enjoyed it. I think I may pass on this one for now though. It does sound fairly complex. Thanks for sharing your review! 😉

  8. Oh god, I would get SO lost if I were to read this via audiobook!

    “If being able to keep track of all of this is something that is important to you as a reader” And that’s kind of me lol, so I think I might actually make a chart/note sheet when I get to this. 😛 It sounds really fun, though!

    1. I was so confused but just along for the ride 😂😂
      It’s definitely fun! I actually recommend just going with it and not trying to keep track otherwise you’ll probably get frustrated. Unless you really love puzzles… 🙂

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