The Ruin of Kings

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I found this preview to be a little dense, but I did enjoy it. I would only recommend to high-fantasy readers who are likely to enjoy complex world building, but not for those who are new to the genre.
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I'm not sure what to make of this book.  It confused me a bit, the way it was written, from different character perspectives telling the story.  I didn't really care for it, nor the ending.
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First of all, I didn't realize this was an excerpt when I clicked the read now button and added this title to my NetGalley queue. This has taught me to be a lot more careful when reading email from NetGalley to make sure I'm not getting stuck with partial books that I am then obligated to read bits of and review. Secondly, since I'm so behind, I naturally missed the publication date of the complete book, and in an effort to catch up on my NetGalley reads, I purchased the audiobook. I've reached the point in the audiobook that corresponds with where the excerpt ends, so my review is based strictly on the excerpt portion of book.

Lyons has created a very dense, complex world, and thus has to spend a great deal of time providing the reader with details about that world so events make sense. I think she does this well, but I also think that this is a book that works better in print than on audio, so that the reader can more easily flip back to check names, places, and little details that are easily overlooked. This is not a book to speed read through. I have questions now that I probably wouldn't have if I had the print version and could flip back. Even the eBook version is not conducive to going back for details, so my initial recommendation is to grab the hard copy. One thing that Lyons does, which is a problem I have with a lot of epic fantasy novels, is create names that are nearly unpronounceable. I'm grateful for the audiobook if for no other reason than someone else gets to say the names. I'm sure I would still stumble over them if I switched to print now. I don't find it clever or cute or intelligent - I find it annoying and vexing, but it's a personal preference, so take that into account.

I'm rating this 4 stars because, while there are elements that annoy me (see above), even listening and being sometimes lost without the text in front of me, there's an interesting story here, with fascinating characters. I want to know more, so I will undoubtedly finish the audiobook. I may even buy a hard copy and switch over on the weekend, instead of just listening at work.
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Thank you for this excerpt! Exciting and hard to put down - Cannot wait to read the finished book! The Ruin of Kings is an epic novel filled with great world-building and characters you can't help but root for!
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I was really looking forward to this book, but just reading the excerpt i just couldn't see myself actually reading it. Maybe I'll give it a chance later.
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I enjoyed this, however it is definitely a world and character building book leading to a series, not alot happens but the characters and there situations make it a worth while read I will definitely be continuing this series!
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As a preview of this book I found it leaving me wanting more. A good book which I will need to read more of.
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Kihrin is a musician's son in the slums of Quur, living in a brothel; his days  filled singing in performances.  His nights are very different as he scales the roofs and breaks into the homes of the wealthy.  One night while robbing an empty house, he discovers it isn't empty at all, but overhears men plotting and planning and sees things he knows he shouldn't.  Kihrin escapes and doesn't think much about it except relief at what could have happened and didn't.

Or so he thinks.  A few days later, he is out in the marketplace when a demon appears; a demon who seems very interested in Kihrin.  The Emperor's men come and fight it off, but in the process, Kihrin is scooped up and taken into the house of D'Mon.  There he finds one of the men he saw plotting and is shocked beyond words when the man claims Kihrin as his long-lost son.  It's hard to believe but the man and the other members of the household have the same piercing blue eyes and blonde hair Kihrin has, the eyes his father could never explain.  Soon Kihrin is installed in house D'Mon but it isn't a fairy-tale ending.  The house is full of plans and betrayals, alliances and opposing enemies.  He finds a brother he comes to love and perhaps his mother, but everything is shrouded in layers of deceit and secrecy.  Before he can discover the truth, he is betrayed and sold into slavery.

Now on a galley ship, Kihrin's life is brutal.  When he escapes he is marooned on an island, where gods fight over him and a dragon insures his presence.  He learns more about witchcraft and the evil he left behind.  Can he find a way to get back and save the Empire?

This is a debut novel in a new series and comes with a lot of buzz.  Lyon has created interesting characters and a world that is both bleak and intricate, full of betrayals and love and plots.  The reader is brought into the world with little explanation and must piece together the clues to determine reality, the same as Kihrin.  It can get confusing at times, with characters coming back as other characters and almost no one being the person they appear to be at first, but the discovery is enthralling and readers will turn the last page ready for the sequel.  This book is recommended for epic fantasy readers.
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For an excerpt there was some really interesting stuff here. It just took a lot to get into and the very beginning was a bit confusing. It feels like a lot of exposition.

But by the time the excerpt closed I was intrigued though I must admit I'm still only 50/50 on continuing on.
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I am intrigued by this excerpt and definitely want to read more. I want to buy this book. I need more!
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This preview was a great read.

I loved the characters and the world. I think Lyons did a great job building the details and keeping the reader interested. Every side character seemed to be complex and interesting, which I really enjoyed.

I believe the story framing structure, while mostly done effectively, made things needlessly complicated. at times. This hindered my enjoyment somewhat. I think it was mostly done well, but at times I felt a little lost.
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The preview is so amazing. This is filled with so many moments and I can't wait to read the full version
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Jenn Lyons’ The Ruin of Kings is the first of a five-book series that didn’t fully win me over but did do just enough to keep me reading through its 500-plus pages and end up sufficiently intrigued to move on to the sequel when it eventually arrives.  I just wish I could have written “excited to move on to” rather than “sufficiently intrigued.”

The novel’s structure is a bit complicated.  Two narrators (Kihrin and Talon) are each recording the tale of how Kihrin ended up in prison with Talon as his jailor, alternating narration (Talon’s in third person, Kihrin’s in first). Each, however, picks up the story in a different part of the past and then moves forward chronologically, so we have two time-lines set in the past and a “current” timeline with the Kihrin and Talon telling their stories. I put the “current” in quotation marks because we really have a fourth timeline—the transcription of their stories is being (or has been) read by a third party, who adds commentary in the form of footnotes throughout.

The basic linear story is Kihrin is a young thief staying with his overly-protective, blind musician father in a brothel. On one of his theft attempts he witnesses something he shouldn’t which eventually embroils him in events that soon overtake his life and reveal neither he nor those around him are who he thought they were. Between that event and his current incarceration, there are demon attacks, dragons, assassin cults, encounters with gods, enslavement, time spent in the upper tier of society, wizardry, revelation upon revelation upon revelation about Kihrin’s past and his family, duels, magical artifacts, prophecies, kraken, zombies, and even dying.

Generally, in a vacuum, the story is decent. The world-building as it’s gradually revealed is relatively rich, with various races, ancient battles, complex capital politics, an intriguing pantheon of gods.  The book is filled with tense, thorny relationships (probably my favorite part of the novel), some of which shift as characters learn more about themselves or others, or simply mature more  Underlying social criticism and the implied question of “is this a society worth saving from the prophesied fall” adds a nice bit of seriousness. Kihrin is an engaging enough character, Talon a nicely creepy narrator, and the third party adds a welcome bit of humor/snark in their annotations, as well as helps to fill in some of the world-building.

But I say “in a vacuum” because while all these aspects are solidly handled, none of them are particularly fresh. The young thief who turns out to be more, soul-stealing, magical artifacts that are both boon and bane, and other aspects I won’t detail are all things we’ve seen a-plenty in fantasy save to say that I was able to predict several “twists” based on prior readings.  Now, I’ve never been one to make that deal-breaker; I’ve often said it isn’t so much how completely original a work is but what they do with the tropes that determines how good a book is. And here Lyons, as noted, does enough with them to turn in a perfect serviceable novel.  Or would have, save for one other issue that I feel is somewhat related (though I’ll happily admit I can be completely off-base on that).

The major problem I had with The Ruin of Kings, as opposed to the minor issue of familiarity, is that it felt to me that Lyons herself realized just how familiar all those elements of her novel were, and so tried very hard to spice things up in ways beyond plot—say, with multiple narrators, multiple timelines, footnotes, unreliable narration, and revelations that turn out to be not revelatory of the truth.  And I want to be clear here that I’m an absolute fan of the attempt, both in general in with specific regard to what Lyons is trying to do here. I just felt she tried a little too hard, and instead of ending up with a stimulating structure or narration or plot, she ended up with one that was unnecessarily convoluted and cumbersome, and that at times therefore felt more gimmick than not (again, to be clear, I don’t think it is a gimmick; I think it just wasn’t executed to its best potential and so felt like a gimmick).  

I can only talk about a this in general terms so as to avoid spoilers, but in that general vein., one issue is we’re repeatedly told something about someone (how vague is that?) only to find out that no, there’s another layer of truth behind that and then another and then another. Once or twice would have been a nice subversion of the farmboy is a prince trope, but Lyons went to this well way too often for me. I started marking it in my margin about halfway through the novel and there were lots more examples to come. The twinned timeline is a neat idea, but beyond being “different” I couldn’t see any real impact on story or character to it. I didn’t feel, for instance, that suspension was heightened by the two tracks. At least, I didn’t feel enough impact such that it more than balanced out the constant need to readjust my orientation every time.  Adding in illusions, shape-shifting, and soul-swapping, plus simulated time travel, plus a slew of names that sound quite familiar just added to the sense that I was being confounded so I wouldn’t notice how generic the basic story elements were. 

I love when authors throw different narrators, different timelines, different styles at me when it’s done well. I prefer a non-linear structure. But I confess I became annoyed by all this about three-quarters of the way through (possibly even earlier).  Not by complexity, but by unnecessary and ineffective complexity. I’d say therefore it’s a credit to Lyons’ basic skill in storytelling and character that I kept going for another few hundred pages despite that constant annoyance in the background (that kept coming to the foreground with every new example). 

I did end up, as I stated at the start, won over enough to pick up the sequel in its time. And I sincerely appreciate and applaud Lyons’ attempt at a more interesting structure.  But at this point, given that there are four more books to go, while it clearly has potential, I’d suggest holding on to see how book two goes before starting this series.
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Thank you for the preview of this book!  I cannot wait for the release (today!) of it to jump into this fantasy world.
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The Ruin of Kings
by Jenn Lyons
Macmillan-Tor/Forge
Tor Books
Sci Fi & Fantasy

I have probably read more sci fi fantasy and horror books that the populace of a whole large city put together [or even some states] over the decades so I have gotten jaded. The book was so popular in requests I wasn't even able to e picked as someone to read the whole thing but did get approved for an excerpt. It was like cake and ice cream with topping.  An excellent won't put down fantasy of sorcery, court intrigue, rulers and plights it rises to the top like a souffle with an irresistible smorgasbord of characters, scenarios and telling of tales. I like that it begins with a backdrop of reading the history of a situation rather than anyone telling it as it leaves it all over over what happened and will happen in the court intrigue and lives of those involved. I love the writing style and the depth of the characters to the   point where you can see them and the surrounding environment. This is definitely a book worth reading and I can't wait to try and find a copy to pursue the tale in full
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I have heard really good things about this book but I just could not get into the writing style.  Just like the Nevernight series I cannot get into the constant use of footnotes.   

I will rate that book 3 stars as I love dragons and dragon stories but the way it was written I didn't enjoy -  as this is a personal preference for me - but I know many people that have loved it.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the opportunite to read an abstract of this book in exchange of an honest review.

It is a trilling story for magic, gods and  much more. From the first page my attention was grabbed and I didn't want to let go. Now it's time for me to grab the whole book and finish it off as quick as possibe. I need to know what's happaning next ....
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I believe that this was just an excerpt, but I ended up reading the whole thing after it was published and loved it!
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3.5 stars so far. This is a brief review of the 'taster' of the novel available on Netgalley. I've already bought the full novel and am eagerly reading onward to find out what happens next, so in itself that is a good sign! Full of adventure and dark magic, the interplay of gods and ancient races, this is in many ways a classic adventure fantasy, with the familiar elements of a prophecy and a downtrodden young hero who discovers that his blood might be more noble than he ever imagined. What makes Lyons's book stand out, at least at this stage, is the vivid play of personalities between our hero Kihrin and the monster Talon, whose conversation creates the two strands of the story throughout the novel. Kihrin's narrative voice is fresh, lively and laced with irony, while Talon's eerie stable of personalities gives her a chilling insight into the various facets of his past. I'm intrigued to see where this goes and to find out exactly how Kihrin has managed to get himself into these scrapes... but can't comment any more at present. If I can, I'll edit this feedback to include a link to my review of the complete novel when I've finished it.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review!
 
The Ruin of Kings has all the making of a great fantasy serie! I only read an excerpt so it's difficult to judge the entire book on it but so far it really caught my interest! Like so many others readers, I didn't realize it was an excerpt until it ended at a very inopportune moment!

The characters, especially Kihrin and Talon were interesting and the world building was well done. The only criticism that I have is that sometimes the change between POV was confusing . 
 Overall it left me very curious and intrigued and I can't wait to read the entire book.
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