The Ruin of Kings – Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings is an exciting new debut from Jenn Lyons (review copy from Tor) and the first in her A Chorus of Dragons series.  This is the story of Kihrin, an orphan raised in a brothel by a musician.  A chance encounter with a demon on the streets of the city leads Kihrin to discover that he’s actually the bastard son of one of the city’s powerful ruling families.  At the same time, the story follows a slightly older Kihrin who has been sold into slavery.  Kihrin owns a mysterious necklace which was the only thing recovered from his mother’s body when she was murdered and Kihrin was rescued from her dying arms.  Unbeknownst to Kihrin, the necklace is not just magical, but it holds the key to destroying and remaking the world.

This is a story told in braided narratives.  Chapters of each phase of Kihrin’s life alternate, until at last the two storylines meet and the climax of the novel happens.  It’s an ambitious approach, and one that would fail in the hands of a different writer.  I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did, as I really dislike authors artificially creating suspense by witholding relevant information from the reader that their characters know.  But in this novel there are a pleasing series of reveals as Kihrin’s early life starts to fill in the context for things happening in his later time line.

The worldbuilding is extremely rich.  There are gods, monsters, elder races, magical artifacts, death cults, powerful families, and other races.  Lying behind and running through Kihrin’s story is a conflict between the gods that threatens to tear the world apart if it can’t be stopped.  And it’s clear that Kihrin and his mother’s necklace will end up playing a key role in it.

Kihrin himself is cocky, charming and can be infuriating.  He’s not always the most reliable of narrators in the first person sections of the book, but he’s a pleasure to spend time with.  Lyons has developed a character with a strong voice and clear personality.  I am really looking forward to the next books in this series.

Goodreads rating: 4*

 

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