- File Size: 18103 KB
- Print Length: 569 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books (February 5, 2019)
- Publication Date: February 5, 2019
- Sold by: Macmillan
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07C75P1R6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,289 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons Book 1) Kindle Edition
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- Book 1 of 3 in A Chorus of Dragons
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"It's impossible not to be impressed with the ambition of it all, the sheer, effervescent joy Lyons takes in the scope of her project . . . a larger-than-life adventure story about thieves, wizards, assassins and kings to dwell in for a good long while."―The New York Times
"Ms. Lyons is all set to take her readers on a long journey indeed, unfolding and unfolding like brilliant origami. So far, though, not a hairy chest in sight, nor a languishing maiden. Fantasy has moved on, and is all the better for it."―The Wall Street Journal
"An impressive and highly accomplished debut . . . The Ruin of Kings makes both an ideal introduction to epic fantasy and a rewarding read for fans of the genre."―The Los Angeles Times
"With the scope and sense of fatality of Patrick Rothfuss, and well-choreographed action sense of Brandon Sanderson, Lyons leaps into the big leagues of epic fantasy and sticks the landing."―Booklist, starred review
"[A] jaw-dropping, action-packed story of betrayal, greed, and grand-scale conspiracy . . . Lyons ties it all together seamlessly to create literary magic. Epic fantasy fans looking for a virtually un-put-down-able read should look no further."―Kirkus, starred review
"Tightly plotted . . . its lore and memorable characters will leave epic fantasy fans eager for the second volume."―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This stunning debut takes epic fantasy to a high level, portraying a world filled with magic, demons, gods, and dragons, in which politics and power plays are the laws of the land."―Library Journal, starred review
"Rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying. I loved it."―Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians
“It was one hell of a ride. I gobbled it up and was hungry for more.”―Glen Cook, author of The Black Company
“The Ruin of Kings is a fascinating story about a compellingly conflicted young hero in an intriguingly complex world.”―L. E. Modesitt, Jr., author of the Recluse series
"A thriller plot of revenge and loyalty with a get-under-your-skin and keep-you-reading-all-night mystery at its heart. I loved it."―John Gwynne, author of Malice
"The Ruin of Kings revs up with the glitz of a high-speed, multi-level video game, with extreme magic and a teen hero with angst."―Janny Wurts, author of The Curse of the Mistwraith--This text refers to the mass_market edition.
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It DOES evoke the TV series "Lost", which I was unfortunate enough to be exposed to for awhile. It feels like the depthless characters are constantly retconned; the protagonist is THIS person's son, then THAT person's son, then neither of THOSE people are who they are, look, there's an alien race for one paragraph, then we teleport someplace, now the enemies are allies, and now the trusted friend goes on a murder spree, but it was a mimic, not the friend who is apparently now dead, except they're not dead THIS time, etc. It's *exhausting*. The lineage/actual identity of the majority of main/regular characters is updated so frequently that the whole thing reads like the family tree at the beginning of "Idiocracy".
The world is underdeveloped and the dialogue stilted and rote. The protagonist is a slave/hero/waif/lost scion/fool/moral pillar/demigod/lusty lad/mixed-breed/prince/you-name-it. No fantasy archetype/mythos was forgotten in making this dude.
Lastly, the MANY footnotes, most of which contribute absolutely nothing to the narrative, have to be explicitly navigated to, a Kindle experience requiring hand repositioning, precision selection, and a load of patience.
I only finished this because there are no refunds, and I'm still WFR.
I resent this book. I don't even hate it. I resent it.
Very good set up. . .we've got two narrators telling stories about the main character. One of a modest thief who ends up being "more than he seems". Classic story of destiny that we're all familiar with in Fantasy. The other story about the same boy sold into slavery to a race of people who possess magical abilities.
But, at some point, the author just loses the thread. It's difficult to even describe because of how poorly written and explained it all is. . .the main character, Khirin, is his own grandfather, and his father is really his brother, but a part of someone's soul is in someone's necklace and the rest of their soul is wandering around a forest in the domain of the death goddess, where we also see ONE OF THE EIGHT who has been imprisoned, and OMG, he opened his eyes, and now everyone is dead but NOT REALLY because the goddess of death can just bring you back if she wants, or you can kill a dragon in the real world, and use half his heart to put yourself back together in the spirit world, but wait. . .I haven't even talked about the demons who feed on fire -- or is it souls -- and they can mimic people, and read minds, and mentally torture you, and it's totally unclear how much power they have, and oh yeah, there are eight Royal houses? Why? I don't know, but apparently they all have rockin' new years eve parties!!!! Awesome. Oh, I haven't had a shipwreck yet. Let's put that in. Here's an arena battle between two magicians where the one guy's magic just makes the other guy fall over a couple times. And there are eight necklaces and the one in the book seems really important, and I'm not sure why, and they can't be destroyed, except some can because that's a different kind of necklace, and some races seem vaguely ethnic, and some seems blonde, and where you're from doesn't seem to matter anyway because everyone's soul just winds up in a different body. What a total mess this book is. Needed a good editor. Needed a rewrite. Doesn't need a sequel. Doesn't need fandom. Wow.
The protagonist is a mashup of every character archetype imaginable except he has very limited growth throughout the book. He's a thief that doesn't really do a lot of thievery, an orphan that isn't actually an orphan, and a bard who's music talents are severely underplayed for 90% of the book.
Overall it feels like the author had 3 or 4 different story ideas that she crammed into one novel, and the result is a convoluted mess full of poorly delivered exposition that doesn't really make that much sense when you really pay attention.
I was also very annoyed that every time I almost got pulled into the story, something would immediately happen that broke the immersion. Whether it was terms and phrases that felt out of place, characters doing out of character or nonsensical things, or even the strange omniscience to Talon's storytelling that just glosses over how she somehow knew what Kihrin was doing/feeling/thinking no matter when or where, even when he was completely alone. It was just infuriating to try and get into the story.
Overall I don't recommend this book for anyone, it's the worst and I hated everything about it (except for a couple of things lore-wise) but I wanted to finish it so I could give a fully accurate review. The ending was also cheesy and extremely dissatisfying. Don't waste you time.
Top international reviews
It's what I would class as dark fantasy in that violence is common and unhappy fates for characters are a frequent occurrence but lacks The hopelessness and nihilism of a lot of recent grm dark in short there are characters trying to make The world a better place dark yes depressing no. The world setting itself at least in my imagination had a very loose far east/ more middle eastern kind of vibe to it but as I said more a flavor then a direct influence if that makes sense. It's a High fantasy setting magic is frequent just not available to everyone and The gods are a active prescence, so swords and spells only no guns ext.
The story plot seems simple enough a mysterious orphan Khirin , a blind musicians apprentice by day and a thief by night finds out he is the heir to one of the 12 houses of the empire caught up in events beyond his control he needs to navigate dangerous waters while being subject to the Gods Favor, all the while discovering his part in a age old war fought in the Shadows between the Gods and there Pawns and demons. All of which is absolute bog standard fantasy plotting where it is unique is in the details so in a effort not to spoil anything I am just going to post my biggest pro's and con's.
So the the biggest plus is the world building its original and detailed and you can't help but feel that somewhere the author has an entire bible devoted to this series, from the 12 houses which are more of magic based corporations then the usual fantasy noble house, to the 8 gods and there role and that's not counting familiar fantasy tropes like elves and dragons are given updates and twists on concept.in fact there is so much going on and such a vast vast of characters that it can all be a bit overwhelming add in the fact that reincarnation, body swapping , mimics and multiple realms pop in in and keeping track can be difficult to say the least.
which brings us to the main make it break it factor which is the narrative structure which is told across 2 timelines made more confusing when part of it is told by a mimic who is telling the story from the point of other characters who she either absorbed or read there mind's in addition to another character also writing footnotes in every chapter similar to the Discworld series and Jay Kristoff nevernight series though I felt they worked better in both then here then for the final piece of the puzzle there's a four year time jump in the second time line. It took me awhile to get absorbed in the story a full third of the book which considering how much you need to pay attention i s a problem and I wonder how many readers will be able to stick with it.
All in all while I do think there is too much going on and I do think the narrative structure wrecks havoc with pacing early on i think this an impressive debut heralding a strong new voice in fantasy fiction one worth the effort of sticking with.
It's not perfect - there are occasionally things which don't make sense (characters who if the story was consistent should probably be dead), leaps in the narrative in the space of a few lines where something important?/significant? is just dumped in a sentence, before swiftly moving on, but the story carries itself well enough that these are just minor blips.
By the end there is enough open scope and potential to make the next book "The Most Anticipated Sequel...". Hopefully it will live up to it.
Let's start with the structure of the book: The vast majority of the book is divided into alternating chapters between first person and third person narrators with the ending 1/8th or so being completely third person. The alternating chapters follow a different period in the timeline. I mention this because some people may find the switch jarring. Also, some people just plain don't like first person narration. As it happens, I am one of them - I'm so allergic to first person I get rash (as in: I do rash things like throw a book across the room in irritation). And yet I enjoyed this book, so that's something.
As such, the very best recommendation I can give is to read the chapters that Tor.com released in order to get people interested in the book in the weeks before it was released. There are substantially more chapters available than from the 'look inside' offered above by Amazon, and you will find out whether the slightly unconventional nature of the storytelling is for you or not. Personally, I wouldn't have bought the book if not for doing that myself, and I'm glad I did.
Having read the book, I can see why Jenn Lyons chose to tell the story in two separate timelines not least because it vastly improves the pacing (and stops the grim moments from becoming too grim), but there is no 'in story' revelation as to why it is necessary. Don't expect a sudden 'aha' moment about it. Unfortunately juggling the two timelines in your head may get confusing, and as such it's the kind of book you want to read in prolonged sessions over a few days rather than a few chapters before going to bed each night. Personally I have no problem with the two timelines other than that the mechanism itself is perhaps a little contrived. Your mileage may vary.
I found that the third person narrative helped to quieten most of my problems with first person narratives, which was also aided by an additional voice offering annotations which helped clarify some of the world building and gave you an insight into an important but largely unseen (directly) character. Honestly, reading the chapters on Tor will explain what I mean by that.
The fact that I as a reader could understand why the author made the creative choices they did I think is testament to what a promising debut novel this is. It also leaves me confident that she is able to do justice to the story that she wants to tell, because I believe the series is slated for four more entries.
So we move onto the part of the review that I always struggle with. How to discuss the plot and scope without divulging spoilers? The main protagonist is a thief from the unsavoury part of the city who is unwittingly brought into world shattering events, is found to be of one of the noble houses, the subject of multiple prophecies and...
Well, yes, that sounds quite traditional, I know, but there is a reason 'tropes' exist and often it is because they are woven in to good storytelling. It's the way the story is told that makes the book and Lyons tells it engagingly, and even if the starting off point is traditional that doesn't mean that the ending point is also. Whatever the previous paragraph may have sounded like, this isn't a mere cookie-cutter coming of age story.
The tone is personable, the humour largely sardonic and the magic system promising, if a little underdeveloped for my own personal tastes. The world building also left me wanting more - but not with the sense that the author doesn't know it herself. There are (very successful) novels out there with pseudo-deep world building where I am left unconvinced that the author could provide answers to the questions I want to know - I wasn't left with that feeling here. If in the follow up books the magic and world building is fleshed out, this has the potential to be one of the very best made fictional universes out there.
The writing itself is fast paced although that is occasionally to its detriment as a little more time could be spent explaining without needing to worry about losing the reader's interest. There is, for example, an incredibly convoluted family tree which I just gave up trying to understand. And that's even with the aid of a diagram in the appendix! The best stories have ebbs and flows in its pacing, but that is something that Lyons will probably pick up with the more books that she writes - it's easy to forget that this is her debut.
Overall I'm giving this a 4/5 score but it's a 'high' 4 rather than a 'low' one. Other than maybe John Gwynne, I haven't enjoyed a debut novel like this for a long time. I'm keenly awaiting the next instalment.
I just didn't care. The characters are many and weak, you forget who they are and then realise its fine because you didn't care in the first place.
Our heroes keep on butting against an enemy so powerful you can't conceive at then end of the chapter. Then they get out of it at the beginning of the next chapter and then a new enemy so powerful you can't conceive will appear to threaten them again at the end.
Often these threats are not forshadowed so the characters have to turn to each other and say, oh yeah that's Dave the Lord of death, he's powerful than the stars and he's trying to kill us. Beginning of next chapter, but it turns out he's afraid of rabbits and I happen to have one. Then ten pages later, oh no its sheila queen of the underworld more powerful than the seas and she's trying to kill us, and the cycle continues...
The writer is excellent, knows their craft but the pace is too fast and the characters instantly forgettable.
I enjoyed it so much, I just went out and bought the full book, which I will review shortly !
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.