The Ruin of Kings is a terrific debut novel by author Jenn Lyons. The audiobook was produced by Macmillan Audio and read by Soneela Nankani, Vikas Adam, and Feodor Chin. 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.
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Audiobook Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Narrators: Soneela Nankani, Vikas Adam, and Feodor Chin
Length: 27 Hours, 15 Minutes
Print Publisher: TOR Books
Print Date: February 5, 2019