Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: "The Ruin of Kings" by Jenn Lyons

Hello all! I'm very excited to be welcoming you to my stop on the The Ruin of Kings blog tour! I can't wait to chat about this book with all of you! Here's what you can expect in on this tour stop: a giveaway, information about the book, an excerpt, my review, links to purchase, and advance reviews and praise! If you'd like to follow all of the other awesome hosts participating, you can find the tour schedule here.


There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens.

Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew up on storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn't what the storybooks promised.

Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family's power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.

He’s destined to destroy it . . .

Uniting the worldbuilding of a Brandon Sanderson with the storytelling verve of a Patrick Rothfuss, debut author Jenn Lyons delivers an entirely new and captivating fantasy epic. Prepare to meet the genre’s next star


"[A] jaw-dropping, action-packed story of betrayal, greed, and grand-scale conspiracy . . . Lyons ties it all together seamlessly to create literary magic. Epic fantasy fans looking for a virtually un-put-down-able read should look no further." ―Kirkus, starred review

"Rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying. I loved it." ―Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians

“It was one hell of a ride. I gobbled it up and was hungry for more.” ―Glen Cook, author of The Black Company

“The Ruin of Kings is a fascinating story about a compellingly conflicted young hero in an intriguingly complex world.” ―L. E. Modesitt, Jr., author of the Recluse series

"A thriller plot of revenge and loyalty with a get-under-your-skin and keep-you-reading-all-night mysetery at its heart. I loved it."―John Gwynne, author of Malice

"The Ruin of Kings revs up with the glitz of a high-speed, multi-level video game, with extreme magic and a teen hero with angst." ―Janny Wurts, author of The Curse of the Mistwraith


Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats, and a lot of opinions on anything from the Sumerian creation myths to the correct way to make a martini. At various points in her life, she has wanted to be an archaeologist, anthropologist, architect, diamond cutter, fashion illustrator, graphic designer, or Batman. Turning from such obvious trades, she is now a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing science fiction and fantasy. When not writing, she can be founding debating the Oxford comma and Joss Whedon’s oeuvre at various local coffee shops.



This book was a whirlwind. At the beginning, I was a bit confused and it took me a while to get fully into the story, but when I did, I had a great time. Honestly, it took me so long to read this book but I think that was partly me savoring it. I'm excited for the next one already, even though this one hasn't even released yet.

Okay, so in terms of plot, I thought that the way things were woven together was very interesting. I think if I were to reread this, which I'm sure I'll do at some point before the sequel, I would take notes just to have everything fresh in my mind because this book is long and a lot happens. There were moments where I was flipping through the pages as fast as I could to see what happened next and then there were moments where I was slowly savoring the scenes.

I think my number one thing that I loved about this book was Kirhin. I think if we'd had any other character as the lead or if Kirhin hadn't been exactly like he was, I wouldn't have enjoyed the story so much. But Kirhin...oh my sweet boy. So much happens to him and, honestly, he can never catch a break. His sass is just so perfect, though. I feel like I relate a lot more to his humor than some other characters because he's a sarcastic brat half the time and then the other half is deprecating humor that just lines up perfectly with my generation's sense of humor. I love him.

I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book. There were so many loose ends at this end of this book, which I get because it's the first of five. I will say, if you want to read this book (which I do recommend if you love high fantasy and sassy characters!) that you take notes and don't try to speed through because that won't work.

A huge thank you to Tor Books for sending me an advanced copy of this book to review and to Jean for allowing me to be a part of this book tour. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Read below for an excerpt from the book! A little note before you dive in, if you see a * it denotes a footnote. As there aren't pages in this post, the footnotes occasionally come in between paragraphs but would usually be at the bottom of the book pages. Enjoy!

Excerpt from THE RUIN OF KINGS by Jenn Lyons
Tor Books, 2019

Your Majesty,
          Enclosed within is a full accounting of the events that led up to the Burning of the Capital. Much of the first section is based on transcripts derived from a conversation between two of the most pivotal individuals to the events; other sections consist of my own reconstruction. I used eyewitness accounts whenever possible, and tried to remain true to the essential spirit of events when I was forced to go afield. I’ve annotated the text with obser- vations and analysis I hope you may find helpful.
          I pray your forbearance for when I lecture you on subjects on which you are the greater expert, but ultimately, I decided it safest to assume on your ignorance rather than the reverse.
          It is my hope that by possessing as complete a picture as possible of these events that led up to these matters, you will show leniency regarding the Lord Heir; the Council members who are recommending charges of trea- son and a death sentence surely do not have the whole story.
Your servant, 
Thurvishar D’Lorus

A Dialog
Between a Jailer 
and Her Prisoner

“Tell me a story.”
          The monster slouched down by the iron bars of Kihrin’s jail cell. She set a small, plain stone down on the ground between them and pushed it forward.
          She didn’t look like a monster. Talon looked like a girl in her twen- ties, with wheat-gold skin and soft brown hair. Most men would give their eye-teeth to spend an evening with someone so beautiful. Most men didn’t know of her talent for shaping her body into forms crafted from pure terror. She mocked her victims with the forms of murdered loved ones, before they too became her next meal. That she was Kihrin’s jailer was like leaving a shark to guard a fish tank.
          “You must be joking.” Kihrin raised his head and stared at her.
          Talon picked at the mortar of the wall behind her with a wicked black nail. “I’m bored.”
          “Knit something.” The young man stood up and walked over to the line of iron bars. “Or why don’t you make yourself useful and help me escape?”
          Talon leaned forward. “Ah, my love, you know I can’t do that. But come now, it’s been so long since we’ve talked. We have all this catching up to do and ages before they’re ready for us. Tell me everything that’s happened to you. We’ll use it to pass the time—until your brother comes back to murder you.”
          He searched for somewhere to rest his gaze, but the walls were blank, with no windows, no distractions. The room’s only illumination shone from a mage-light lamp hanging outside the cell. Kihrin couldn’t use it to start a fire. He would have loved to set the straw bedding ablaze—if they’d given him any.
          “Aren’t you bored too?” Talon asked.
          Kihrin paused in his search for a hidden escape tunnel. “When they return, they’re going to sacrifice me to a demon. So, no. I’m not bored.” His gaze wandered once more around the room.
           He could use magic to escape. He could change the tenyé of the bars and rocks to soften iron or make stone fragile as dried grass. He could do that—if Talon wasn’t watching his every movement. Worse, if she wasn’t capable of plucking thoughts of escape from his mind the moment they entered.
          And she never slept.
          “But I do eat,” she said, answering his thoughts with a gleam in her eye, “especially when I’m bored.”
          He rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to kill me. Someone else has that honor.”
          “I don’t consider it murder. I’d be saving you. Your personality would be with me forever, along with—”
          Talon pouted and made a show of examining the clawed tips of her fingers.
        “Anyway, if you can read my mind, you don’t need me to tell you what happened. Take my memories—the same as you’ve taken everything else.”
          She stood up again. “Boring. Anyway, I haven’t taken everything from you. I haven’t taken all your friends. I haven’t taken your parents.” Talon paused, “Well, not your real parents.”
          Kihrin stared at her.
         She laughed and leaned back. “Should I leave then? If you don’t tell me a story, I’ll go pay your mother and father a visit. ­They’d entertain me. Though the visit might not be so much fun for them.”
          “You wouldn’t dare.”
       “Who would stop me? They don’t care about your parents. All they care about is their little scheme, and they don’t need your mother and father for that.”
          “You wouldn’t—”
         “I would,” Talon growled, her voice inhuman and shrieking. “Play my game, Bright-Eyes, or I’ll come back here wearing your mother’s skin cinched by a belt of your father’s intestines. I’ll reenact the moments of their deaths for you, over and over, until your brother returns.”
          Kihrin turned away, shuddering, and paced the length of his cell. He examined the empty bucket and the thin blanket tucked into a corner. He searched the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. He studied the iron bars and the lock. He even checked himself over, in case his captors had missed something, anything, when they’d taken his weapons, his lock picks, the intaglio ring, and his talismans. They’d only left the necklace they didn’t care about, the one worth a fortune.
          “Well. When you put it that way . . .” Kihrin said. “How can I refuse?”
          Talon brought her hands together in front of her face and made a tiny clap of delight. “Wonderful.” Then she tossed him the small rock she’d put between them earlier.
          Kihrin caught it, but looked confused. “What’s this?”
          “A rock.”
          “It’s a magic rock,” she said. “Don’t tell me a man in your position doesn’t believe in magic rocks?”
          He studied the stone again, frowning. “Someone’s changed this stone’s tenyé.”
          “Magic. Rock.”
          “And what does it do again?”
“It listens. Since you’re telling the story, you hold the stone. Those are the rules.” She grinned. “Start at the beginning.”

1: The Slave Auction

(Kihrin’s story)

When they brought me up to the auction block, I looked out over the crowd and thought: I would kill you all if I had a knife.
          And if I wasn’t naked, I amended.
          And shackled. I had never felt so helpless, and—

What?­You­­ don’t­ think­ this ­is­ the­ beginning,­ Talon? *
          What­ do­ you­ mean ­by­ “beginning”­ anyway?­ Whose­ beginning?­ Mine?­ I­­ don’t­ remember­ it that well­.­ Yours?­ Talon,­­ you’re­ thousands­ of­ years­ old­ and­ have­ stored­ the ­memories­ of­ as­ many­­ people. You're­ the­ one­ who­ wanted­ to­ hear­ this.­ And­ you­ will,­ but­­ under­ my­ terms,­ not­ yours.
          Let’s­ start ­over.

**It seems Talon was serious about that “magic rock,” for it records the words spoken by its holder. I could have fabricated the other side of the conversation, but the gist seems clear enough through context and so I have let the words fall where they may.

The auctioneer’s voice boomed out over the amphitheater: “Lot six this morning is a fine specimen. What will I hear for this human Doltari male?† He’s a trained musician with an excellent singing voice. Just six- teen years old. Look at that golden hair, those blue eyes, those hand- some features. Why, this one might even have vané blood in him! He’ll make a welcome addition to any household, but he’s not gelded, so don’t buy him to guard your harem, ladies and gentlemen!” The auctioneer waved his finger with a sly grin, and was answered with a few disinterested chuckles. “Opening bid is ten thousand ords.”

††Having known Doltari slaves, I can only assume the auctioneer was blind. Then again, perhaps the good citizens of Kishna-Farriga have become expert at accepting the labels given to slaves without question.

          Several members of the audience sniggered at the price. It was too much.
          I didn’t look any prize that day. The Kishna-Farriga slave masters had bathed me but the scrubbing only made the raw whip wounds on my back stand out in angry red stripes. Copper bangles on my wrists did a poor job of camouflaging sores from long months spent in chains. The friction blisters on my left ankle were swollen, infected, and oozing. Bruises and welts covered me: all the marks of a defiant slave. My body shook from hunger and a growing fever. I wasn’t worth ten thousand ords. I wasn’t worth one hundred ords.
          Honestly, I wouldn’t have bought me.
          “Ah, now don’t be like that, my fine people! I know what he looks like, but I promise you, he’s a rough diamond who only needs polish to shine. He’ll be no trouble either—see, I hold his gaesh in my hand! Won’t someone here pay ten thousand ords for the gaesh of this handsome young slave?” The auctioneer held out his arm and revealed a tarnished silver chain, from which dangled something that glittered and caught in the sun.
          The crowd couldn’t see the details, but I knew what he held: a silver hawk, stained black from salt air. A part of my soul, trapped in metal: my gaesh.
          He was right: I would cause no more trouble. Never again. Controlling a slave via a gaesh was as effective as it was terrible. A witch had summoned a demon, and that demon had ripped part of my soul away, transferring that essence to the cheap tourist bauble the auctioneer now held in his hand. Anyone who carried that damn gaesh charm could command me to do anything they desired. Anything. If I ignored those orders, my reward would be my agonizing death. I would do anything that the holder of my gaesh asked of me, no matter how objectionable, no matter how repugnant.
          Obey or die. There was no choice.
          No, my body may not have been worth much, but in Kishna-Farriga the going price for a man’s soul is ten thousand ords.
          The crowd stirred and looked at me with new eyes. A troublemaking teenage boy was one thing. A teenage boy who could be healed and per- fumed, forced to obey every whim his owner might command, was quite another. I shivered, and it had nothing to do with the warm breeze that prickled the hairs on my skin.
It was a fine day for a slave auction, if you’re into that sort of thing. The weather was hot, sunny, and the air tinged with the stink of gutted harbor fish. Paper umbrellas or canvas awnings obscured the bidders as they lounged on cushioned seats.
          Kishna-Farriga was one of the Free States, border city-states that owed no fealty to their neighbors, but relied on shifting political tensions* to keep themselves off anyone’s leash. Countries who didn’t want to deal with each other used Kishna-Farriga as a halfway entrepôt for trade goods and commodities—commodities which included slaves such as myself.

**I have heard a great many theories to the effect that the Free States are a vassal of some other nation. So Doltar believes the Free States are in league with the Manol and the Manol believes the Free States are in league with Zherias, and of course Quur thinks the Free States are Dol- tari and thus must be protected by the Manol. If large scale war ever breaks out, I fear it will go poorly for these Free States people trapped in the middle.

      Personally, I was used to the slave markets of the Quuros Octagon, with its endless mazes of private chambers and auction theaters. The slave pits in Kishna-Farriga weren’t so elaborate. They used just one open- air stone amphitheater, built next to the famous harbor. At maximum capacity, the rising stone steps seated three thousand people. A slave might arrive by ship, visit the holding cells underneath the amphitheater, and leave with a new owner the same day—all without clearing the smell of dead fish from their nose.
        It was all quite charming.
       The auctioneer continued to speak, “Do I hear ten thousand?”
       Reassured that I was tame, a velvet-clad woman of obvious “professional” talent raised her hand. I winced. I had no desire to go back to a brothel. A part of me feared it would go this way. I was by no means homely, and few are those who can afford the price of a gaeshed slave, without means of recouping their cost.
          “Ten thousand. Very good. Do I hear fifteen thousand?”
          A rich, fat merchant leered at me from the second row and raised a little red flag to signal his interest. Truth be told, he raised all kinds of red flags. His ownership would be no better than the whorehouse madam’s, and possibly quite worse, no matter what my value.
          “Fifteen thousand? Do I hear twenty thousand?”
          A man in the front row raised his hand.
         “Twenty thousand. Very good, Lord Var.”*
           Lord Var? Where had I heard that name?

**There is no record to indicate that Relos Var has claim to a noble title or order of merit. On the other hand, there’s scarcely any record of Relos Var at all. The earliest mention of that name I have been able to locate is from the book History­ of­ the­ Raevana­ Conquest by Cilmar Shallrin, which mentions the name once. Since that book was published five hundred years ago, the idea that this might be the same person is troubling.

         My gaze lingered on the man. He appeared ordinary: of medium height and weight, nondescript but pleasant, his dress stylish but not extravagant. He had black hair and olive brown skin—typical of Quuros from west of the Dragonspires—but his boots were the high, hard style favored by Easterners. Jorat, perhaps, or Yor. In addition, he wore a shirt of the Marakor style rather than an Eamithon misha or usigi wrap.
          No sword.
          No obvious weapon of any kind.
        The only remarkable qualities about Lord Var were his confidence, his poise, and the fact the auctioneer recognized him. Var didn’t seem interested in me. His attention focused on the auctioneer; he barely glanced at me. He might as well have been bidding on a set of tin plates.
          I looked closer. No protection, hidden or otherwise, and not even a dagger in one of those unpolished leather boots. Yet he sat in the front. No one crowded him, though I’d spotted plenty of pickpockets working the crowd.
          I’d never been to Kishna-Farriga before, but I didn’t have to be a native to know only a fool came to this auction house without bodyguards.
          I shook my head. It was hard to concentrate. Everything was noise, flashing light, and waves of cold—which I suspected were from a fever. One of my cuts had become infected. Something would need to be done about that soon, or I would be the most expensive paperweight some poor gull had ever purchased.
          Focus. I ignored the crowds, the bidding, and the reality of my situation as I slipped the First Veil from my eyes and looked at him again.
          I’ve always been skilled at seeing past the First Veil. I had once thought this talent would be my redemption from the Capital City’s slums, back when I was naïve enough to think there was no fate worse than poverty.
           There are three overlapping worlds, of course, each ruled by one of the Sisters: the world of the living, the world of magic, and the world of the dead.* We live in Taja’s realm, as do all mortals. But I’d learned from a young age that my talent for seeing past the First Veil, into Tya’s magical domain, was a terrific advantage.

**This is . . . so wrong. So wrong. The odd number alone should have been the giveaway. This is what happens when you neglect to have a proper education. Two worlds. Just two. Magic is not a “realm,” it is a metaphysical river separating two parallel shores.

          Only the gods can see past the Second Veil, although I suppose we all do when we finally travel to what lies beyond, to Thaena’s realm— Death.
          The point is that wizards always wear talismans. They stamp such trinkets with their own auras to guard against the hostile sorceries of other mages. Talismans can take any shape. A smart wizard conceals their talismans from casual observation by disguising them as jewelry, sewing them into the lining of their clothes, or wearing them under robes. You might never know if someone is a wizard . .
          . . . unless you can see past the First Veil yourself, in which case that talisman-enhanced aura always betrays a wizard’s profession.
            That’s how I knew Relos Var was a wizard. He wasn’t wearing any
obvious talisman, but that aura was terrifying. I’d never seen an imprint so strong before, nor an aura stamped so hard, sharp, and crisp.*

**Having personally met Relos Var on several occasions, including at public baths, I have to say that I have never been able to figure out where the man keeps his talismans either—or if he even wears any. Relos Var has the power and aura of someone who wears a great many talis- mans without seeming to wear any at all.

          Not with Dead Man, not with Tyentso . . .

And­ no,­ lovely­ Talon,­ not­ even­ with­ you.

I couldn’t remember why Lord Var’s name was familiar, but I could sum the man up in a single word: dangerous. But if I was lucky . . .
          Who was I kidding? There was no luck left for me. I had angered my goddess, lady of luck both good and bad; her favor was gone. I did not even dare to hope that Lord Var would treat me better than the others. No matter who won me this day, it didn’t change that I was a slave, and would be so until the moment of my death. A normal slave might hold out some faint hope of escape or buying his or her freedom, but a gaeshed slave can’t run, and no one would ever free them. They are worth too much.
          “The bid is twenty thousand. Do I hear twenty-five thousand?” The auctioneer wasn’t paying attention anymore: he thought the sale all but over. He’d done well to fetch twenty thousand. That price exceeded his expectations.
          “Twenty thousand, going once, going twice. Fair warning—”
          “Fifty thousand,” a clear voice said from the top of the seats.
       Murmurs spread through the crowd. I strained to see who’d placed the bid. It was a large stadium. I couldn’t see the speaker at first, but then I noticed who the rest of the crowd had turned to watch: three seated figures in black hooded robes.
          The auctioneer paused, surprised. “The Black Brotherhood bids fifty thousand. Do I hear fifty-five thousand?”
          The man they called Lord Var looked annoyed. He nodded at the auctioneer.
          “Fifty-five thousand. Do I hear sixty thousand?” The auctioneer was awake now that there was a bidding war.
          One of the three black-clad figures raised its red flag.
         “Sixty thousand.” The auctioneer nodded at them.
         Half the crowd looked at Lord Var, the other half stared at the robed figures. The auction had just become an entertainment sport.
          “Do I hear seventy-five thousand?” Var nodded again.
          “I have seventy-five. Do I hear one hundred?” The auctioneer saw the black-clad figures’ flag raise again. “I have one hundred from the Brother- hood. Do I hear one-fifty?”
         Var nodded.
         “One-fifty. Do I hear two hundred?” The red flag raised. “I have two hundred. Do I hear two-fifty?” Var frowned, but made a quick wave of his fingers. “I have two-fifty from Lord Var. Do I have five hundred from the Black Brotherhood?”
          He did.
          The desire to vomit hit me hard, and not just because of sickness. Had a slave ever sold for so much? There was no use that justified such a price; not as musician, not as catamite. Unless—
          My eyes narrowed.
          I wondered if, against all reason, they somehow knew who I was, knew what I carried. I almost reached for the gem around my throat. The Stone of Shackles was worth such a price, worth any price, but I had used the only spell I knew to hide what I wore.
          I might be gaeshed, but I couldn’t be ordered to hand over what no one knew I possessed.
          “The Black Brotherhood bids a half-million. Do I hear 750,000?” The auctioneer’s voice broke. Even he seemed stunned by the price rising from his throat.
          Lord Var hesitated.
          “Lord Var?” the auctioneer asked.
          Var grimaced and turned to glare over his shoulder at the three figures. “Yes,” he said.
         “I have 750,000 ords from Lord Var. Do I hear one million?”
          The figures in black didn’t hesitate.
          Lord Var cursed aloud.
          “I have one million ords. Final warning.” The auctioneer paused for the required time. “Sold to the Black Brotherhood for one million ords. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new record!” The end of the staff pounded down on the floor.
           I fought the urge to join it.

Copyright © 2019 by Jenn Lyons

Thanks for reading!

You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

To get more awesome content like this post, click the follow button to the right!

Beacon Book Box: use the code BOOKSHELF5 for a discount on your order or subscription! 

I am a "BookishTextDesign" Influencer! Use my code LAUREN10 for a discount off your bookmark purchases! Check out the shop here

Get free worldwide shipping with Book Depository using my affiliate link

No comments:

Post a Comment