The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons
If you are looking for a fantasy that will engross you, pull you in chapter after chapter, stop you turning the light off at night and leave you totally deaf to everything going on in the real world around you, then you need to read The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons.
Kihrin is a thief, a musician, and a few other things... raised in a brothel, things start going off track when he witnesses a horrible and secret murder in the house he is burgling. Then he’s attacked by a demon. Then it’s revealed he’s the long lost son of a prince. Or is he? This story is richly embellished with descriptions of gods, monsters, royalty, street thugs, adventure, in a fulsomely detailed fantasy world. The author is a video game producer who clearly has an eye for detail. I didn’t always follow the finer workings of the plot, but the action keeps rolling. And, this is a hefty book. Think Eragon. It comes with a map, geneology and glossary.
The Ruin of Kings lives up to its name. Dark things happen: the character list has its share of sadists and downright evil people, and there is a ghastly litany of crimes committed in its pages. The book commences with Kihrin sitting in a cell waiting to be killed, guarded by the beautiful/horrible she-monster Talon, who commands him to tell his story. Kihrin begins when he is sold at slave-market. Talon, who tells the other half of Kihrin’s story, insists on starting earlier, back when the teenager is still playing music with his dad at the brothel. After the initial confusion because of the number of storytellers, the chapters flow more smoothly, alternating between these two different time zones, and transforming the book into a remarkable feat of storytelling.
An extra layer that doesn’t seem necessary is that the whole story is told by a third character who makes his own footnotes. Mostly I was too engrossed in the action on the page to pay attention to what was going on at the bottom!
Young adults and adults who like fantasy will enjoy this book. Be aware that it does have some mature themes (sex slavery, sadistic killing, etc). It’s big, complicated, and… well, magical. All the right elements are delivered with style and sophistication. I rushed to the end… then I realised it was a series. I’m waiting for the next one.
Reviewer: Susannah Whaley
Macmillan, RRP $37.99