It’s hard to believe, with the way this year has gone and how long it has felt that the first book of The Ruin of Kings, the first book in A Chorus of Dragons series by Jenn Lyons, was only released a little over a year and a half ago and The Name of All Things only nine months ago. Now with The Memory of Souls newly released, the story arcs from the first two books have come to roost in this excellent third book in the series that does not ease up on the throttle.
If readers need a reminder, the events told in the first two books happened very close in the timeline. This is part of what makes the third book so exciting is because now the full weight of the fallout from the first two are being felt together. The actions of Kihrin, Tyentso, Thurvishar and Tereath in the capital combined with what Janel and her crew have done in Jorat and Yor all come to ahead in this book. Now, as a result, nearly all of Kihrin’s family is dead, murdered by his mother. Quur has a new emperor who hates the noble families. Meanwhile, Atrine, the second biggest city in the empire, is now rubble thanks to a dragon. Relos Var is now in possession of the god killing sword Urthanriel. On top of that, thanks to Relos Var’s manipulation, the King of Demons known as Val Karoth is one step closer to being freed. Which is convenient because thanks to Kihrin shattering the Stone of Shackles, all the other demons are free to invade their world.
It’s a lot of plot for The Memory of Souls to contend with as the book moves from the two points-of-view accounts of events to multiple accounts of what happened, including Kihrin, Teraeth, Janel, Talea, Senera, and Kihrin’s parents, to name a few. Despite this, it is very much a Kihrin book, though not quite as much as The Ruin of Kings. While it did slightly disappoint me to get fewer Janel chapters, it does not take away from the book as Kihrin is quite lovable, especially at this stage of the story, as he has matured far beyond the first book, when he was 15. Though it is conjecture, it also may imply the next book in the series will be a Janel book, which I will be quite happy to receive. However, based on the way The Memory of Souls turned out despite the slight change in format, I’ll enjoy the next one no matter who is the main point-of-view. That comes down to one salient point: these books’ framework is quite delicious for a reader like myself.
The framing device of a character collecting a chronicle of recent events, usually exchanges of points-of-view of two characters continues, footnotes and all. Whatever the reception to this has been, I do not care. I love everything about it. Each footnote that gives me a glimpse of what the chronicler is thinking or a fact about the world that I may not have known or have forgotten is an utter joy. The little pauses between chapters where the two characters discuss that part of the story lifts my spirit. If you’re not a fan of frameworks, specifically the Chorus of Dragon’s framework, then tough luck because Memory of Souls continues with that trend. I, however, will shout from the rooftops for more chronicling, more footnotes, more Thurvishar and Senera whose characters I would not be nearly as enthralled with without the framework.
Let’s not shy away from the truth. Let us as readers in 2020 live in our bliss. The Memory of Souls by Jenn Lyons, the third book in her A Chorus of Dragons series is a dream book for shippers. The romantic and sexual tension between Kihrin, Teraeth, and Janel is utterly delightful. Lyons continues the trend from the first two books of everything going horribly wrong just as that tension is at its peak and we’re finally going to get what we want. There are a few satisfying surprises in store for readers and new ships will begin to set sail. After a lot of tragedy in the first two books, some romance was well regarded in my eyes and I hope the trend continues no matter the events of this book.
One of my favorite aspects of this series and one of the author’s true strengths is in its revelations. Today, the word twist has taken on a negative connotation, often used to describe a change no one saw coming because it either doesn’t make any sense or is such a flawed idea no one would want the story to go in that direction. From book one to the end of The Memory of Souls, Lyons has multiple revelations I did not expect, and each one has only added to my anticipation of what comes next. It is difficult right now with current events to truly enter that frantic reading zone where the pages are flying by, and the revelations are making you actively swear as you continue, but this book has done just that. That is to say, to continue to do just that as the reveals in the first two books garnered the same reaction.
This is a doubtfully apt comparison, but the arrival of this book has been like the arrival of Animal Crossing New Horizons in March. It could not come at a better time as a reprieve to the chaos happen across the globe. It is not an overly happy novel, but it is a welcome escape from the current year’s national and global situation. As I finished the last page of The Memory of Souls by Jenn Lyons far into the morning when i should have been asleep and placed the book back onto my nightstand, I lay my head to rest, thinking, “Ah, I needed that.”
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