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The Ruin of Kings

Written by: Jenn Lyons
Length: 27 hrs and 15 mins
4 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Everything epic fantasy should be: rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying. I loved it." (Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians)

Jenn Lyons begins the Chorus of Dragons series with The Ruin of Kings, an epic fantasy audiobook about a man who discovers his fate is tied to the future of an empire.  

When destiny calls, there's no fighting back. 

Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel's son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family's ruthless power plays and political ambitions. 

Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins. 

Then again, maybe he isn't the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world.  

He's destined to destroy it.   

©2019 Jennifer Williamson (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What the critics say

"A trio of talented narrators tackles the first book in a new fantasy series centered on a man who is destined to destroy an empire...the trio complement each other and elevate an unconventional story filled with intense world-building and vivid characters." —AudioFile Magazine

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Magical hero story

Very engaging story once you get past the unique story perspective. The story jumps between narrators and timelines.
Our hero Kihrin, orphan and thief raised in a brothel as the adopted son of a blind musician turns out to be a kidnapped son of a high lord. Insert magic, dragons, demons, revenge, treason, slavery, death/resurrection, a few prophesies, some fantastical races and gods and this will give you the ruin of kings.
I found it a wonderfully spun story where it is quite apparent that even with the help of the goddess of luck our hero isn’t coming out on top. Can’t wait to find out what comes next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • MasterTorian
  • 2019-02-07

Amazing

Wow. It seems 2019 is the year for authors to obliterate my hatred of first person!

First, the narrators. Soneela and Vikas are both amazing voice actors with phenomenal range and great tempo and inflections. The one weak link is Feodor. But that his narration is bad, it just isn't as good. He has far less vocal range and when it switched to just him at the end it was a little jarring.

Okay, story.
Oh, where do I begin?

TL/DR version is, think The Wheel of Time meets The Stormlight Archive meets A Song of Ice and Fire. With demons, but without all the boring parts. And with only a single protagonist.

Okay, long version:

The majority of the narrative is focused between two timelines as related through an interview between a jailer and her prisoner. The recent past is narrated in first person by the protagonist and the deeper past is narrated in third person by the jailer, a creature called a mimic, who has telepathic access to many people's thoughts. Hence, her parts read almost like they are in omniscient third person.

And to further complicate things, the entire book is actually a report written by a third narrator that is being sent to the new Empress.

If you think all those narrators and multiple frames around the actual story make it complicated, you're right. This is a deep, complex story technically happening in three times at once.

But it was brilliantly done. Personally, I would have preferred a purely chronological account, as there were a few times I had to stop and remind myself where we were and what we were doing when a new chapter started, taking us back to the other narrator.

Also, there are numerous points where the third narrator interjects things, almost like footnotes. I really could have done without these. Yes, it clarifies when given information is inaccurate or blatant falsehood, but I believe that could have been communicated in better ways.

That said, the plot between all sections is seamless and brilliantly put together. Every time I thought I saw a plot hole, it was neatly filled with information I hadn't even realized was relevant.

There are so many turns, so many twists, it kept me guessing almost the whole way through. By its very nature (narrated by a survivor after the fact), certain things were predictable. But that didn't detract from the story nearly as much as I thought it would. Definitely not as much as it typically does with this type of story.

The world is deep and rich, with a ton of history and a huge number of secret and hidden facets, many of which we barely get a glimpse of in this book.

There are so many awesome events, incredible creatures, and killer (pun intended!) land features! Brilliant stuff!

The character development is phenomenal. Every act, as far as I could tell, was 100% in keeping with each character's personality and motives. Bythe end of the book, even though we spend so much of the book in only one character's head, I felt like I knew most of the major characters very well.

Only one surprised me, but there is good reason for that. In the end, we discover that we never really knew this person. Almost everything we thought we knew was a facade.

Without spoiling anything, let me just say that there are some startling revelations waiting in this book and the ending is so phenomenal, I just can't imagine how she is going to top it in the next book.

Do yourself a favor and read this book!

40 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • norah
  • 2019-02-19

Worthwhile

Good story, nice and long and good return for the money/credit.

It's best if you handle non-linear time lines well, I do and I loved it, it made it better. One or two of the character names got tangled in my mind but they were minor enough that it made no never mind.

The world building is massive and the exposition of that is mostly handled well.

Best part is that despite this being the start of a massive series of epic proportions, THIS BOOK HAS A SOLID ENDING. I'll be happy to read the next book but I'm not punching the wall because it stopped in the middle of a conversation or something equally daft. If the next book never happens you won't feel robbed. It's worth it, and it's worth it now.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Underwords
  • 2019-04-02

A Fresh and Clever Book!

The Ruin of Kings is a terrific debut novel by author Jenn Lyons. It’s playtime is 27 hours and 15 minutes, and when you are done listening you are going to be wanting more. I promise.
*
Thief, minstrel, and lost son of a powerful lord of Quur, Kihrin finds that his family history (his real family history) is much more complicated than he ever imagined. Unless he wrests the answers from those who love (or hate) him most, he may not last long on this side of the veil—then again life and death aren’t quite what he expected either. His survival is not only a matter of utmost importance to him, but to all of the people who are wrangling to save him, use him, or survive him—including a cagey demon, a father with questionable parenting skills, and a shapeshifter who would love to eat his brains. And then there are the prophecies that seem to be dogging his every move.

The Ruin of Kings audiobook is a fantastic, high-quality production that is read by three actors who take turns telling the story. While I often prefer a single narrator, the three narrator structure of this audiobook worked quite well and was actually very helpful in keeping the story straight due to alternating timelines and the flow of descriptive details of people, places, religions, and cultures that are refreshingly new and distinct. The casting of these narrators was smartly done.

Soneela Nankani (a personal favorite of mine) reads Talon’s story, which covers Kihrin’s life up to the point of his kidnapping. Her tone of voice, the way she plays with words, and the choices she makes for character dialog are all done very well. She lightens the mood quite a lot, which is impressive since Talon is not a terribly nice or kind person. The combination of her vocal choices and her character’s personality work quite well together.

Vikas Adam reads Kihrin’s story after his kidnapping, and he does an excellent job of reflecting Kihrin’s personality from his wit and snark to the sadder moments of his life. He has excellent comedic timing and an intuitive sense of oral storytelling as he always seems so relaxed, yet present in the moment.

Feodor Chin reads Thurvishar D’Lorus’ tale. I hadn’t expected to like the inclusion of Thurvishar’s tale as much as I did because I don’t really like multiple narrators. However, after a little while, I couldn’t imagine the story being told without his steady voice as a buffer between Talon’s and Kihrin’s tales. Plus, Vikas Adam was a brilliant choice for this part as his voice and interpretations played well between Soneela’s and Feodor’s readings.

Having three storylines told in interwoven patterns provides interesting parallelisms within the plot, structure of the novel, and the characters’ development. It also helped to keep all of the family, historical, geographical, cultural, and theological details straight. While there are a lot of details to remember and piece together, it’s not too overwhelming. Sometimes lots of detail in a novel is difficult to retain when listening to an audiobook. However, Jenn Lyons and her editor did a great job of choosing exactly how to interweave the chapters for Talon’s and Kihrin’s stories (along with Thurvishar’s timely interjections) to provide details and reminders just when you need them.

One of the most interesting things about The Ruin of Kings is that it’s quite possibly one of the most colorful novels I have ever listened to or read—and there is some light swearing, which is not what I am referring to here. The characters have such vibrantly colored features and clothing that Jenn Lyons embraces diversity with the inclusion of black and white characters as well as characters with blood red skin or ice blue hair or glittering black eyes. She uses color like an artist uses paint and she doesn’t let traditional human features define the characters of her world. While the use of color may not be new within speculative fiction, she has such a light touch that it feels completely original.

The Ruin of Kings is an exciting new novel, and not just because of the compelling characters, the clever story structure, or the originality that Jenn Lyons brings to speculative fiction. The Ruin of Kings is an exciting new novel because it hits all of the right marks from being intelligently complex to being quite funny as well as being well written. While it never feels rushed, the story also doesn’t grow dust lingering in one place too long. Each chapter does exactly what it’s meant to do, building up to the point when all hell breaks loose and you literally have no idea who is going to live, who is going to die, and who is actually going to stay dead.

I highly recommend this audiobook. You’re going to love it. Jenn Lyons wrote a great novel and the narrators do a fantastic job bringing the story to life.

Happy Listening!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Elizabeth
  • 2019-02-15

Multiple timelines and a difficult beginning

I think this is just one of those books you have to buy physically. The jumping from narrative to different narrative and input from secondary characters made the beginning impossible to listen to and follow along. I was 3 hours in and had little to no idea of what had happened in those 3 hrs.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • 2019-02-11

Great, but...

This has serious potential and I’m looking forward to book 2, but the whole multiple storylines, timeframes and random inputs from a different character’s perspective is frustrating. There were multiple scenarios that played out where I caught myself having to go back and re-listen in order to tie things together. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hopes to listen while doing anything else

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Claire E.
  • 2019-02-26

Pretty good

pretty good epic fantasy. The main character is compelling, the female characters are real characters, there are dragons and swords and gods.
At times the story’s framing (it’s a story in a story in a story) gets annoying. And personally I think it would have been better told chronological. Instead we follow two timelines, the youth, and the more recent past of the main character, until they are caught up, and we are given the immediate past.

I would recommend this book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-02-06

Epic!

Loving Soneela as Talon! The timeline is confusing in the beginning but stick with it - totally worth it!

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Day Patterson
  • 2019-02-24

Too difficult to follow.

I struggle to finish this book. The plot was very complex, and there were far too many characters with unusual but similar sounding names. As you race between multiple narrators, timelines, dimensions, and races it was far to convoluted to keep pace. The rules for magic, each dimension, and race were poorly established and adjusted when it was convenient for the author. I am a fan of the genre and premise, but unfortunately this book missed the mark for me.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew Prince
  • 2019-04-19

Terrible

Multiple narrators were dull and gave no life to a terrible story with poor world building. Such a waste of time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Mike Brannon
  • 2019-04-18

A lot of characters in this story.

There is so much going on in this book, it becomes very hard to remember who’s, who.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful