The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons – A Book Review

Ruin of Kings


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.


Author: Jenn Lyons

Publisher: Tor

Series: A Chorus of Dragons (#1)

Page Count: 560

Release Date: 07/02/2019

My Chosen Format: Hardback

My Rating of ‘The Ruin of Kings’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US



The Ruin of Kings was a novel I had seen rated very highly on a dozen or so blogs and one I knew I just had to try for myself. I hadn’t read a fantasy that was over five-hundred pages in a while so thought diving into one was well overdo.

For anyone out there that will or won’t read a book depending on whether it is written in first or third person point of view … run away screaming now. This epic is written in both. I know, that sounds utter madness, and I can only imagine the noise made by many a literary agent’s eyes as they rolled sardonically when seeing that description on the covering letter from a submission package.

It is told from the point of view of Khirin (the main character that the book revolves around). Our protagonist finds himself trussed up in some dungeon or another and, with the aid of a magical rock that records everything he says (fantasy’s answer to a tape recorder) and the insistent prodding of his jailer, he retells his life story up until the point he finds himself behind bars.

The other half of the story (the novel is told in counterpoint, alternating chapters for one of two main POVs) comes to us from Talon, Khirin’s jailer. Talon is a mimic and, by virtue of eating the brains of a person she gains their memories and, too a lesser extent, their essence. Her parts of the story are told from the different people she has absorbed, all people who Khirin has interacted with in his life.

When I first started, I felt it was going to be an incredibly strange reading experience. It wasn’t the case at all. The chapters are all fairly short and I found myself eagerly looking forward to the next telling from the next POV. Sometimes, as with all books, the story tends to flag and feel a little slow-paced. The promise of a new POV in the next chapter really helps to move it along as you know you won’t be bogged down by the same slow section for yet another chapter.

I remember a younger me loved reading the Ciaphas Cain series from the Warhammer 40k Universe and it was often the ‘editor’s notes’ in the footmarks that got me excited. This dynamic is used here as one of the characters that features throughout is adding his notes to certain poignant parts of the manuscript. It’s a very nice touch that keeps the reader interested and serves to inform the reader more about parts of the world being crafted without resorting to bothersome info-dumps throughout the prose.

I absolutely loved the story being told and the characters that populated The Ruin of Kings were incredibly memorable. My only issues, character-wise was that they all tended to have a pretty similar sense of humour. Even the antagonists. It kind of took me out of the story a little as it felt like, perhaps, they all had the author’s sense of humour rather than their own. They all seemed to want to be funny, as well. Even when the serious parts were going on. I felt this made me lose a bit of the epic feel I could have otherwise had. I also felt the character of the Emperor didn’t feel very emperor-like. But then, given the background of each emperor that isn’t entirely surprising.

I said it was told in counterpoint, but it was also told in two parts. Part one is about the first 90% of the book and part two is the ending. I felt part one was pretty fantastic and that part two seemed to drop off the pace a little. That being said, I still felt as though the end was pretty damn epic. I just felt some of the build up to get to the end was a bit slower than perhaps it could have been. I ALMOST lost interest at parts.

Those negatives aside, it was still an incredibly enjoyable book and one that I look forward to carrying on with.


19 thoughts on “The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons – A Book Review

  1. Third and first person point of view huh? That is really unique indeed. I always love discovering new books, and the premise for this one sounds very good indeed. Probably won’t get to this one anytime soon, seeing as I’m kneedeep in the Horus Heresy, but I have added it to my to read list. Great post as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! I’ve had the opposite experience with this one- I’ve only seen a couple positive reviews and many others were fairly negative. People kept saying it was “needlessly convoluted” and that piece of it felt like a gimmick and a selling point rather than enhancing the story.

    So for me, it’s nice to see a positive review, but you mentioning the pacing issues and the ending not blowing you out of the water, makes me still hesitant to pick this up.

    Endings shouldn’t suffer pacing issues. It’s the climax- it’s where all the hard work of the previous 450 pages comes to fruition. It’s the part of the book that makes or breaks the whole experience. Sorry. Here I am being grumpy again. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha grumpy isn’t a problem 😜

      My issue with the end is that part one ends and part 2 is pretty much the ending. So they had to re-assert the pace and interest at the start of part 2. Just felt like it slowed it a little.

      I haven’t seen many negative reviews but I can see what people would hate about it. The fact that EVERYONE wanted to be funny and had the same sense of humour was frustrating.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review and I’m glad that you enjoyed it! 🙂

    I really liked the first and third-person narration but can see why some wouldn’t. For the ending, yeah, I get your point I think that when a book moves to a new part that it (mostly) always loses some momentum and then takes a while to get that back up to speed.

    I’ve seen more negative reviews than favourable ones for this so, as I said I’m glad that you enjoyed it and well, it is fantasy, for those negative reviews, each to their own but you expect it to be fairly complex. I think, for me, it was a nice change to read something that had more of an epic fantasy feel to it rather than another grimdark book which was why I really liked it.

    Sadly seen some negative reviews for the sequel that say it is nowhere near as good, lower stakes, new characters apart from Kihrin and a repeat of the same formula but this time someone else is telling their tale to Kihrin. 😦 Had high hopes based on this book so I hope that I see more positive reviews before release!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a shame! I’ll certainly read the sequel but may do so without checking the reviews out. Hoping I can enjoy it. I did feel like it could have worked better if it was a touch longer and simply a stand alone, rather than the start to a series. Purely because it felt like it told a complete tale and left wiggle room for later expansion rather than setting up a world.

      I also really enjoyed the quirky ckncept of 1st and 3rd person.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish I hadn’t checked the review out! I was reading other reviews for books I may or may not want to read and saw the review for the next in this series and curiosity got the better of me!

        Yeah, I agree! It definitely works as a standalone with the possiblity of future books alas, it is the first book in a five book series!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed this one over all and really liked the dual timeline structure! For me, I really struggled with the family trees, which are integral to several characters’ motivations. The constant lying about parentage, added with the soul swap magic, just left me with no idea who was related to who by the end of the book. But I will come back for the sequel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea, there are a few characters, the editor for example, who you just sit there and think ‘right, I’m just going to assume you have no father, It will be easier on everyone then.’ And then there’s the whole being returned from the dead thing that can mess with who you are now based on who you used to be. So much effort. I’ll always be coming back for the sequel, I just hope she doesn’t go downhill.


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