Note: Jenn Lyons’s first book Ruin of Kings was such a hit with Geekly readers that we wanted to do even more to showcase her second book, The Name of All Things. And as Josh MacDougall pointed out, there are two narrators for this second volume, so what better than two reviews and two extras–an interview and this post-read discussion–to celebrate this too-awesome two-book extravaganza? Below is the discussion. In case you somehow clicked on this without reading the title, a final warning: there are spoilers!
We spent a lot of time screaming to each other about The Name of All Things on twitter, but let’s get all of this out of our systems in one place. Favorite new character?
Christina Ladd: Janel, definitely. You could argue she’s not quite “new” since she showed up in Ruin of Kings, but we barely got to know her as a person.
Josh MacDougall: She’s new enough since we see her so sparingly in the first book. She’s so confident and determined in all her actions, even when the chips are down. I have to say, I love a lot of the new women added to this book. Ninavis, Xivan, and Suless being the ones that stand out to me.
CL: Yeah, Xivan was a very close second for me. I love an unapologetic woman with goals, even if they’re murdery. Not Suless, though. Great character in the sense that she got under my skin, but–well, she got under my skin.
JM: Like in annoying way or a creepy way? Because if it’s in a creepy way that’s what I like about her, though she’s nowhere near as creepy as Talon.
CL: When Janel meets her mother. Oh my god it broke my heart in the best way. It was so emotionally raw and Tya said exactly what I never knew I would have needed to hear if I were Janel–that’s a complicated way of saying it was perfect, I guess.
JM: I really enjoy that scene. Both books have left me unsure how I feel about the Eight Immortals. I think for me is when the climax of The Ruin of Kings catches up with this book. Qown, Janel, and Suless are all freed from their gaesh. Gaeshing is such a horrific act, and although Suless seems completely out of her mind there is something satisfying in her being freed.
CL: Yeah it was good to see the breaking of the gaeshes more fully take effect in the world–it came so late in Ruin of Kings that we hardly had the chance to appreciate it. I’m just happy Qown was freed. What a good dude, he didn’t deserve all the crap he went through. (Yes, even considering the ending.)
JM: I’m curious about how much the crap he went through affected his choice. It’ll be interesting to see his point-of-view on the matter beyond what he said about Relos Var being the only one with a plan. I could also see him being the author who does the footnotes in the next book.
CL: All the way at the end when Brother Qown changes sides. It was completely shocking but also made complete sense given his character and what he knows/doesn’t know. It was such impressive character work.
JM: Brother Qown is so likable too. It makes me wonder “What if Relos Var is on the right side?” but there are too many unanswered questions and past despicable acts to completely convince me. Other than Qown switching sides it was the reveal that Janel wasn’t Joratese which is so ingrained in her identity and to be revealed by my most hated character from book one, none other than Darzin D’Mon? Heartbreaking.
CL: You know, that one didn’t hit me as much. Probably because I was waiting for it the minute she said she was adopted–these books love to lie about parentage. And anyway, being a Joratese stallion is still her identity. But I will say, the other scene in Yor when she stands up for the women who betrayed her and set them on the path to becoming warriors gave me chills.
JM: You make a great point. I guess what made it a good revelation to me was it was the first revelation that had me asking if this would be the final part that broke Janel’s confidence, and how she’d get over it. Father Zahjera being Relos Var also hit me harder than I thought it would.
Best baked good to enjoy with this book?
JM: Something that goes well with coffee, like a chocolate doughnut or biscotti so you’re awake to keep reading.
CL: My initial thought was some kind of meat pie that you could eat with one hand while on horseback (or reading a book). But you have a good point, it might be too heavy. Chocolate-covered espresso beans!
Best drink to help you cope with this book’s ending?
CL: A smoky (or, I could say smoldering) whiskey. I’m partial to Caol Ila , but Lagavulin will do you just fine too.
JM: A nice mimosa or bloody mary, whichever you prefer, since you probably stayed up all night into the morning reading this book.
CL: Bloody Mary imho. More appropriate.
Biggest lingering question?
CL: The fuck is Relos Var up to?
JM: That’s definitely at the top of my list. Here are my two others. Kihrin believes there will be a total of four Hellwarriours. Who are the other two, if there are only two? Do we already know who they are? Qown? Senera? Lastly, the first page of the Appendix in the back features a page dedicated to the eight dragons, not including the ninth, Relos Vars. What role do the ones we haven’t already seen have to play? I want to know!
CL: Mostly the dragons just blow shit up, though. They’re clearly highly intelligent, are they ever going to do more than decimate various set pieces? If so, I’m interested. And I’m interested in how they came to be. But otherwise I’m more interested in what you mentioned about historical Jorat–where did all the centaurs go? Are there other monsters? I would really like to see some of the less common entities like harpies and sphinx and naga.
JM: Oh yeah, the centaurs! So for me I want to know more about the other dragons, where are the centaurs, and I nearly forgot the vordreth, which according to the glossary are dwarves.
Which god/dess would be your patron?
CL: Probably Tya, goddess of magic.
JM: Cherthog, who isn’t one of the Eight Immortals, is the Yor god of winter and ice. I love me some cold and ice related powers/magic so that’s who I am going with.
CL: Your god is a polar bear! I can think of way worse gods. And his wife likes hyenas. Maybe I should change my choice…
Which region would you most like to experience?
JM: I’d like to see Kirpis, where the Quur empre pushed out the vané or Raenena, the region the vordreth were said to be from. I don’t remember which character said it but they believe the vordreth weren’t wiped out but just went further underground. I want to see that explored.
CL: It would be awesome to go to Jorat and experience the festivals and tournaments, but I don’t know how to ride a horse and I would definitely get lost in mazelike Atrine. I also would fare very poorly in hyper-patriarchal Yor even though I love the snow and the cold. So probably Quur for me; I get along pretty well with cities. But we haven’t seen much of Manol or Kirpis, and I suspect those might actually be where I’d like to visit.
Want to chat/scream/flail/squeak about The Name of All Things, too? Leave your thoughts in the comments!