Happy Holidays to everyone out there. Since I have had a little extra time off work, of course I decided to try something new to read. This time it is The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons. This author has what I consider a unique story telling style. The book follows one main character, Kihrin, but from two perspectives.
In the opening chapter Kihrin is in a jail cell and his jailer says “tell me a story.” Kihrin has an internal dialogue about Talon, the jailer, and then says basically says, why would I do that. Talon tells him that they have nothing better to do while they wait for his execution to happen. What you need to know is Talon is a demon and she could make things very uncomfortable for Kihrin without actually killing him. So he may as well humor Talon and begins to tell his story.
This is where the interesting story telling perspective comes in, Kihrin begins his story from when he was sold as a slave at a large slave auction. Talon interrupts him and says that he is starting the story too late, that the real story must being when he is 6 months away from his 16th birthday. To which Kihrin replies, well if you want to tell it your way then go right ahead. From here Talon and Kihrin take turns telling his story in their own timeline. Toward the end of the book the timelines will merge.
You might think this is a bit confusing but I actually found it rather engaging. At time I could not wait for the other person to take over to see what is happening in another timeline. I think it actually keeps a large story from becoming too much to process.
In Talons timeline, Kihrin is almost 16, in the empire of Quur this is the age of majority. He has been raised by his musician father in one of the more popular brothels. The Madam of the establishment has for all intents and purposes been his mother, though his real mother died when he was born. While Kihrin is also a talented musician he has also a talented thief, and this is what Talon believes starts him down the path that leads Kihrin to the jail cell he is in.
In Kihrin’s timeline he is about 17 years old and has been a rowing slave on a ship that transports slaves to the empires slave market. For reasons we don’t immediately know, the Captain of the ship decides to sell Kihrin, it seems maybe he is more trouble that he is worth and does not follow orders well. The Captain thinks to get some money out of this and move on with his business.
Oh but wait, there is a bidding war… A mysterious man call Relos Var is offering far more than the initial bidders, twenty thousand, when the previous bid was ten thousand. Kihrin can tell the man is a wizard, what does a wizard want with him? Then some mysterious figures in black cloaks call out fifty thousand from the back. If he is not mistaken, the assassin cult The Black Brotherhood just bid on him. What? Why would a cult dedicated to the death goddess Thaena bid so much money on him? Finally, The Black Brotherhood wins the auction for 1 million.
As one reads the book they discover how a young thief ended up a slave and they also discover what The Black Brotherhood wanted so much that they were willing to pay an enormous amount of money for Kihrin, and it was not to keep him as a slave.
I think Talons part is a little easier to follow timeline wise because you know from the beginning that we are talking 6 months before Kihrin turns 16 and that he will be a slave by 17. The timeline from Kihrins perspective is a bit harder to follow because the author does not often tell you what amount of time has passed. In one case the story all of the sudden tells you it has been a few years, but what is a few? This is not too much of a big deal but it did make some of the events feel out of place/time.
In the last quarter of the book the timelines merge and then the characters from both timelines come into conflict. An empire is at stake; one side wants to unleash demons and bring down the empire, the other side wants to stop this from happening and apparently Kihrin is the key to what will happen.
Overall, this is a solid start to a book series. I will confess that I read the second book already and it is told in a similar style with multiple narrators. However, the second book is not as good as the first. More to follow on that in another post.