Spectacular Stories in The Ruin of Kings | Spoiler-Free Review

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

5 Star Rating System 4 and a half stars


Genre: Fantasy
Author: Jenn Lyons
Published: February 2019
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 560 {hardback}

Review on Goodreads

Big thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of this for review!

Intial Thoughts upon Finishing

Well, I wasn’t expecting to rate this so highly. This book is good though. Whilst it’s convoluted in its storytelling and a real brain teaser to keep up with, it is SO worth it. The ending was ridiculously mind-blowing when everything just comes together. I’m really looking forward to the next book!

The Ruin of Kings

I have been trying to write this review for the longest of times and keep getting distracted every time I sit down. BUT HELLO. Let us talk about this freaking masterpiece of a novel.

I would firstly like to pledge my everlasting loyalty and love to Jenn Lyons and hereby do declare to read everything else she ever writes. Because never has an author taken me on such an explosive journey and took me from struggle town to waaay overly invested in a story. I have no words for how much I enjoyed this book . . . in the end. Because lord, at the beginning this was a struggle.

The Heck is this About

This is a twisty, turny narrative following a boy called Kihrin. The story is told from two perspectives, Kihrin’s and a creature that looks human(ish) called … no okay, I’ve completely forgotten her name. Dangit, world, you distracted me for too long and names have been forgotten.

Alright, I stopped being lazy and have retrieved the book to fact-check. ONWARDS.

Talon! That’s her name! So, the story swaps between them telling Kihrin’s story. Confused yet? Hopefully not. Simply put, this story is about Kihrin’s life, which is told by Kihrin himself and also by Talon. They narrate different eras of his life and eventually things all tie together very nicely at the end. This is happening because he is captured and in prison and they are recording his story whilst he awaits execution. Mhm, it’s one of those books that starts at the ‘end’. You’re just dying to know how he ended up there the whole way through.

We also get footnotes throughout with is another character who is familiar with Kihrin’s story, and they’re commenting on events. But let’s not over-confuse you with that: it makes sense when you read it.

The book is set in an epic fantasy world and is one big political ball of chaos that Kihrin gets wrapped up in. He has a necklace that he wears and everyone wants it. It provides magical powers/protection and this makes him the centrepiece of the story, brilliantly dazzled in the spotlight.

Things all kick off when Kihrin accidentally attracts the attention of a demon, who marks him, and later Kihrin is claimed as the long lost son of one of the powerful houses, making him a prince. Whilst you’re recovering from this whiplash turn of events, you’re slowly introduced to some characters who are central to the rest of the story and also brilliant. But I’ll talk about them in a bit.

Being a prince isn’t a good thing. Kihrin’s practically trapped there like a prisoner. But he also learns a lot of things and becomes even further entangled with all the dark deeds going on in his world.

In short, this book has everything. There are many prophecies, there are many dragons, there are awesome characters in abundance, confusing families, epic sword fights and ferocious magical powers. Not to mention blood, gore and death.


I thought Galen (Kihrin’s ‘brother’) was a weak and feeble character but a wonderful addition to the story. I love it when a big powerful house sires a mouse of an heir and everyone is awkwardly twiddling their thumbs waiting for said heir to spontaneously blossom into a king.

View Spoiler

Can I also just say I bloody loved how Galen died in the end, it was so sudden and meaningless and I felt a little sad but also like yeah, that’s about right.

I really enjoyed the friendship between Kihrin, Tysentso and Teraeth. Those three were my favourite. Sexuality is a very casual concept in this book. No-one is that bothered if someone is straight or not and ethnicities are all over the place, a good smattering of diversity spices up this book.

We get hints and suggestions of maybe there being something between Kihrin and Teraeth, but much to my dismay, no full-blown relationship which I really would have liked, thank you very much. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the strange chemistry between these two and then the extra added weirdness that was hot and cold with Tyentso.

The most confusing thing with this book is the soul-swapping aspect. Because of the power of certain artefacts, when a person is wearing said artefact it protects them, and if they are killed by another, instead of dying the two switch bodies. People learnt very quickly in this book to check before stabbing that their victim wasn’t wearing the protection because dang, nothing like having all your hard work ruined by accidentally becoming your victim.

Sure, it seems confusing, but there is a family tree at the back of the book that really helped me lump my thoughts together in a more organised fashion. I would highly recommend flicking back to that (or maybe drawing your own?) to keep tabs of everyone. But yes, the fact that sometimes characters are really not who they seem is REALLY CONFUSING. Especially when you’re trying to iron out the creases in your mind of who is actually dead and who is just someone else. But I promise you get the hang of it. It’s a fucking awesome concept.

Is it Worth the Headache?

The incredibly short answer to this is: yes. I struggled through this book and was so confused with what was going on and who was who. But I persevered and ended up really enjoying it! Some of my favourite things were the settings. We explore some exotic lands and travel through dirty city streets.

I loved the number of creatures, from demons being summoned by sorcerers, to the way nasty people trap others’ souls in a gaesh so that they can control them. The creature that is Talon is magnificent and one of my favourite villains of all time.

The atmosphere of the book is wonderful! Whilst you’re spending a lot of time trying to work out how the two plotlines fit together, just breathe, because they do and it all makes sense eventually. The story feels so real whilst you’re reading it and there’s nothing I want more than to dive right on into the sequel because dang, we left things off in a tight spot.


I just can’t believe how much I turned around on this book. It was exciting and addictive once you got stuck into it. The complexities of the plot pay off big time and it feels like a great reward as you come out the other end of this book feeling as though you have CONQUERED the story. So, to all my epic fantasy fiends out there, this is a book for you.

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Happy reading!

~~ Kirstie ~~


9 thoughts on “Spectacular Stories in The Ruin of Kings | Spoiler-Free Review

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