Whoever first uttered the phrase that it was about the journey, not the destination, never felt the heartbreak of having read a terrible ending to a series they loved. Luckily for all of us, reading Jenn Lyon’s A Chorus of Dragons, both the journey of the books so far and the final destination on the very last page of The Discord of Gods, was collectively fantastic. The stakes have never been higher. Kihrin, now reunited with S’arric / Val Korath, is in control, but the freeing of the so-called King of Demons is the alarm bell signaling endgame for the Hellwarriors two greatest antagonists: Relos Var, the dragon in the guise of a wizard who wants to be a god, and Xaltorath, the demon who has cycled through this timeline again and again until they achieve their victory.
Despite all of this, though, Kihrin remains who he is, and from the very beginning of The Discord of Gods, he frames his plan against his two foes the only way he knows how, as a big con job. The characters break up into groups, each with different roles in the plan and covering the different territories and factions needed to suss out Relos Var’s agenda and finalize their own. In terms of the story, it makes the large cast of characters and settings all feel essential to the overall plot and gives them all page-time. Likewise, in terms of the writing, all the overarching threads of the series can be covered without the pace suffering from it.
The pacing is another aspect of the writing to commend the author for. Several plots are always moving forward, yet it never feels rushed. There is no wheel spinning, only full throttle to the several pivotal moments that’ll leave the reader asking, wait, we’re getting to this already? The benefit of The House of Always feeling so contained, like a bottle episode, and focused mainly on the Val Korath resolution is the entirety of The Discord of Gods feels like one big final act. It sets itself up for that feeling one can get reading a book of not wanting to put it down until the sun comes up. However, Jenn Lyons doesn’t come unarmed with no surprises, and the revelations made in this finale had me both hooting and hollering. Yet, in hindsight make all the sense in the world, and with some answers come even more questions, the kind that is enticing, not disappointing.
The Discord of Gods not only serves its plot well but its characters. The point I’ve constantly reiterated about the series is there are no wasted words, no names given without being relevant in the future, and in the final book, all of it is relevant, and all of it comes back around. From Kihrin, Janel, and Tereath to Senera’s pet dhole, Rebel. From the Eight Immortals to the God-Kings. From the Capital City to the Afterlife. If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know how much I love a well-done framework device, and this book continues that tradition with gusto. You know you have excellently developed characters both in the story and in the framework when it’s exciting to see both Thurvishar and Senera’s footnotes together on page one.
Together being the keyword for the final book of this series. It isn’t Kihrin alone, as a chosen one that leads to success against Relos Var. It would feel disingenuous for the series to set up Relos Var as the smartest in the world with years to plan what he intends to enact in the last act, only for Kihrin to be smarter than him. No, the underlying point made in the final book is a lesson Kihrin, Janel, and Teraeth had to learn in the first three. Even the four of them, including Thurvishar, the Devoran prophecized Hellwarriors, cannot do this alone. It takes the total sum cast of characters to accomplish what they do in this book, from the remaining eight immortals to a simple, noble family bastard serving as Tyentso’s secretary. Relos Var, however brilliant he is, only trusts himself, believes only in himself, and does not take heed to those he believes are beneath him. Kihrin and company trust in each other and know failure is part of the path to victory, and that is their strength and the strength of the series. The reader will feel rewarded for loving these characters, no matter who their favorite is.
The trope of the Chosen One isn’t the only one Lyons upends. The Empire of Quur, as we learn alongside Kihrin and Janel, is garbage built on a foundation of garbage and governed for many a year by garbage people. Just like having the powers of a god doesn’t magically fix all of Kihrin’s problems, the horrific acts of this imperial empire don’t fix themselves overnight simply by having Tyentso as the new Empress. As a reader, it was cathartic when she killed off all the high lords of the royal houses because we are bombarded with information all day about utter bastards getting away with it. Still, as a solution, this only works so well. Quur and its evil imperial and colonizing ways won’t be resolved simply if the protagonists and friends win the day. Still, neither does The Discord of Gods leave us without hope for the future of Quur.
By the end, not all the problems of their world can be magically fixed and wrapped up. There is no return to the status quo for Kihrin, Janel, Teraeth, or Thurvishar but The Discord of Gods is the happiest I’ve been with an ending of a series in quite some time. Like a closed circle that forms the shape of a sun, the story’s climactic moment ends the way it began with a particular cornerstone worn around the neck of Kihrin. Like the sun that S’arric was the god of, A Chorus of Dragons sets with The Discord of Gods. It’s the end of this story, but the world and the characters are so difficult to say goodbye to that though Thurvishar believes it to be a troubling qualifier, I feel nothing but excitement at his last words to us, the reader: For Now.
Check out our interview with Jenn Lyons on No Page Unturned, a book podcast featuring this reviewer on the Geeklyinc network
Joshua was provided an advance copy of the book by Tor books.
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