I FINALLY FINISHED READING THE RUIN OF KINGS.
I take a moment to self-five myself just because I’ve been reading for 3 months okay. (Although partially this was my fault as I was listening to an audiobook and didn’t have a lot of time to listen vs I would’ve been faster reading it with my own eyeballs. But the audio is A+ and I’m completely satisfied with my reading choice there.) The thing I love most about this book is it completely enchanted me. I go through phases of being obsessed and then turned off epic fantasy. And this just came at a point where I was obsessed. It made me obsessed. It had weak patches (in my opinion) but overall it just captivated me. Complex. Wicked. Sassy. Intricately detailed. It’s what I crave.
She pushed a dagger into my hands. “And now you are a man with a knife. Woe to the Empire.”
It had a lot of trappings of a good ol’ epic fantasy: an empire built on the backs of slaves, dragons, assassin guilds, demons and wizards. It had an insanely complex family tree — made 500 x more complex by the fact nobody could stop swapping their fREAKING SOULS AND BODIES. (“Yes I am your relative, just soul-swapped so now I’m not technically related but still!!”) And they all lied about their identities. And then there were complex family trees. And ancient civilisations merging into newer ones. (I imagined the vanē as elven type people please no one correct me because Taraeth is my new Legolas.) And THEN ON TOP OF THAT we have reincarnation and rebirth!!!!!
Are you confused!!! I was confused!! At one point the footnote writer said, “Look. It’s complicated and confusing don’t worry about it.”
SIDE POINT: there are footnotes and god bless these footnotes they are so hilarious. And once I knew who was writing them I liked it even more. It basically went like:
Character: And then this happened which mean this.
Footnote writer: Well they’re WRONG and uNEDCUATED and Khirin is dumb!!!! But nevermind keep reading.
📖 If you don’t want to die while reading, Tor helpfully has chapter-by-chapter breakdowns.
So yes it was complicated in plot, but enticing and intriguing.
And while at times I felt dizzy, I thoroughly loved being absorbed into a complexly layered world with juicy, violent history. And at the end so many reveals just made me just up and scream. My only disappointments were (A) Taraeth just got FORGOTTEN in the finale?!? He was as useless as a cobblestone. I can’t even I was so disappointed. (B) Khirin is dumb. This doesn’t come as a surprise but I was just sitting here all 😑 boy learns nothing. But it was still a phenomenal ending and like I said, I screamed.
(I also think maybe the effort of getting through a 27hr audiobook had me just as ecstatic at myself as the book. 😂😂)
Look I listened to the audio so I don’t even want to pretend I can spell names. I also can’t even remember half of everyone since I took so long to read it. (I freaking love this book?! But I am a disaster.). The important thing was: I did love Khirin D’Mon, our protagonist. He was sassy, stupid, classic Gryffindor, heartfelt and completely unable to be squashed. He bled and I felt for him. He did something clever, and I cheered for him. Loving the protagonist is the most important thing for me in a book, so this scores well.
- I absolutely freaking loved Tareath, a bisexual disaster, who just lived to pick fights with Khirin right up until he suggested they sleep together and Khirin was like “YOU HATE ME” and Taraeth was like “what has that got to do with anything.” Idiot. I love him. I also will continue typing both Taraeth and Tareath because I don’t know. Also he cast illusions and gave me strong Loki vibes. Also his character was criminally underused and I’m crushed.
- Tyentso the sea-witch turned Black Brother recruit turned — [holds breath] okay I won’t tell anymore but I LOVE HER and I. absolutely. screamed. at. her. finale. plot. twist. Oh my god. You know that moment when something is so viciously satisfying? Yes.
- Then we have Kemezra. Me @ phonetically spelling something.
Mother of dragons.She’s old and knows everything and doesn’t tell anyone anything. Stan.
- The whole D’Mon family was great. They’re a royal family, with Khirin being their long lost son, and they’re absolutely corrupt, poisonous, messed-up murders and demon conjurors and oblivious fools and I loved them. Darzen was despicable. Therin was fantastic for being so damply useless. Lady Miah WAS AMAZING. Love Galen, my poor soft dumb gay Hufflepuff. His and Khirin’s quick bonding as newly found brothers was adorable.
- I should probably mention Ola and Surgeyuh (hm I don’t think I’m even trying with the spelling now) but I don’t actually care about them. Khirin’s backstory was a bit basic here and I’m a little annoyed at how he grow up in “Velvet Town”, aka, in the brothels, but we made sure to know he was still pure. It’s such a problematic trope and cliche.
- Then we have Khirin. Idiot. Sassy-mouth. Really earnest and sweet. (Only displeased about his taste in women and his obsessive infatuation.) Thief. Reluctant royal. And OH HIS BACKSTORY. I mean, his other backstory. He has several. His whole life is a rollercoaster that just flew off the rails and everyone is screaming and barely clinging on while Khirin has his hands in the air saying “yeehaw” right before he realises he’s about to die and then he starts screaming. (However I wish there’d been a little more nuance in the mental health rep overall.)
[this is an epic fantasy that set my heart blazing]
I loved it while also being confused and frankly wanting more from the finale. It’s socomplexly layered, ambitious in its history, and daunting in size, but unrelentless in its pursuit to tell a phenomenal story. And IT DID. I’m just stoked. I can’t wait to start book 2.
ps. i do admit I actually thought it was going to be more queer and I don’t know if I misread someone talking about it then? there is queer rep but as far as I can tell, not for Khirin. I need queer epic fantasy though. 🥺 Where is it.
Thanks Tor Publishing for the review-copy! The Ruin Of Kings (#1) by Jenn Lyons came out February 2018.
What if you weren’t the hero?
Kihrin grew up on tales of long-lost princes and grand quests – despite being raised in a brothel, making money as a musician and street thief. One day he overreaches by targeting an absent noble’s mansion, hunting for jewels. There he witnesses a prince performing a terrifying dark-magic ritual. Kihrin flees but he’s marked by a demon and his life will never be the same again.
That night also leads to him being claimed as a lost son of that prince’s royal house. But far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family’s power plays and ambitions. He must also discover why his murderous father finds Kihrin more valuable alive than dead. Soon Kihrin attempts to escape his relative’s dangerous schemes, but finds himself in far deeper waters.
He becomes tangled in a plot to kill the Emperor, rob the Imperial Vaults, claim a god-slaying sword and free bound demons to wreak havoc across the land. Kihrin also discovers the old tales lied about many things: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love – and the hero always winning. But maybe Kihrin isn’t fated to save the empire. He’s destined to destroy it.
do you read much adult epic fantasy?? tell me your favourites and some on your TBR!! and let me know if you’ve read this one!