Book review- Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Genre: Fantsay

Series Chorus of Dragons ( This is book 1) click here for series review

Content warning implied rape, slavery, child abuse, dubious consent

 When destiny calls, there’s no fighting back . . .

As a bard’s apprentice, Kihrin grew up with tales of legendary deeds. He also steals, desperate to buy a way out of Quur’s slums. Then he raids the wrong house, he’s marked by a demon and life will never be the same again.

Kihrin’s plight brings him to the attention of royalty, who claim him as the lost son of their immoral prince. But far from living the dream, Kihrin’s at the mercy of his new family’s ruthless ambitions. However, escaping his jewelled cage just makes matters worse. Kihrin is horrified to learn he’s at the centre of an ancient prophecy. And every side – from gods and demons to dragons and mages – want him as their pawn. Those old stories lied about many things too, especially the myth that the hero always wins.

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

From Amazon

Kirhin, the adopted son of a singer, brought up in a  brothel in the slums of Quur is an accomplished thief who dreams of stealing enough money to give his father a new life. But one day he breaks into the wrong house and attracts the attention of Darzin, heir to the  House of D’Mon and has to quickly adapt to his new role as heir to the house. But his life is going to become much more complicated when he learns that he is a link to an ancient evil called Vol Karoth.

The good

I was hooked by the tagline ‘What if you are not the hero of the story ’ and what a story is was filled with plenty of twists and turns in a well developed, multi-layered universe.

The ruin of Kings is told from Kirhin perspective- both in the first person and in the third person and is possibly the most complicated narrative structure.

 Kirhin’s story starts with him being sold as a slave and his eventual journey to being held captive and Kirhin relates this in the first person being told under duress to his captor. The rest of the story, as told by his captor, Talon, to Kirhin in the third person but is actually being written by another narrator ( who is named later in the book) covers Kirhin story as an underage boy of 15 and how he ended up being sold as a slave( I told you it was complicated). The two storylines eventually converge towards the end of the book. This is an unusual way to tell a story but it works and particularly as I would have found it hard to read about  Kirhin’s experiences at the hands of Darzin in the first person.

There are a range of secondary characters who are vividly described with their own dark motivations and you might need to draw a flowchart to keep track of how everyone is related to each other either in this life or the past life. I like the fact the other characters are of all ages, sexes and races and while  I have a soft spot for Tearath, I did become invested in Lady Miya, Tirentso, Doc, Ola and Talon even with their dark edges.

The world-building is amazing and Quur as a country comes to life as a place of two parts- the rough slums where Kirhin starts life to the walled-off parts of town housing royalty. There are plenty of races, magical creatures, cultures to wrap your head around as well as a stalker dragon.

And yes, the tagline is fulfilled. Kirhin unwittingly causes a whole lot of destruction by the end of the book.

The bad

The story is complicated perhaps a little more than it needed to be s. The naming system is based on taking part of your parents names, so many of the name are very similar but this can make it very hard to keep track of who is who eg, Terindel, Teararth, Thaena. And it only gets worse as the story progresses into the next two books.

The Ugly

The ruin of Kings opens up with a naked, 16- year- old being sold as a slave and almost put me off reading anymore. There are scenes of physical abuse and implied rape to a child ( a 15-year-old is a child in my view and even if sex is consensual is still wrong on so many levels) which takes place off the pages. This is addressed in the book instead of being glossed over but still is uncomfortable to read.

This is another series where  I almost didn’t finish the first book because of graphic descriptions of sexual and physical violence which not present in the subsequent books and I think the book would have worked just as well without some of these scenes.

Romance

There isn’t much except for a budding romance between Kirhin and Tearath although Kirhin falls for the red-eyed girl he sees in a demonically implanted vision.

Any cliffhangers

Yes, the book ends on a massive cliff-hanger with unknown fates for so many people in the book.

Summary

4 stars- I loved this book and would recommend this for any fantasy fans but it loses a star for the slavery and the sheer pain Kirhin is put through.

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