Review: The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons

43255070You can have everything you want if you sacrifice everything you believe.

Kihrin D’Mon is a wanted man.

Since he destroyed the Stone of Shackles and set demons free across Quur, he has been on the run from the wrath of an entire empire. His attempt to escape brings him into the path of Janel Theranon, a mysterious Joratese woman who claims to know Kihrin.

Janel’s plea for help pits Kihrin against all manner of dangers: a secret rebellion, a dragon capable of destroying an entire city, and Kihrin’s old enemy, the wizard Relos Var.

Janel believes that Relos Var possesses one of the most powerful artifacts in the world―the Cornerstone called the Name of All Things. And if Janel is right, then there may be nothing in the world that can stop Relos Var from getting what he wants.

And what he wants is Kihrin D’Mon.

Jenn Lyons continues the Chorus of Dragons series with The Name of All Things, the epic sequel to The Ruin of Kings.

Read my review of the first book in the series, The Ruin of Kings!

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The Name of All Things is out today!
Buy the book here:
Pan MacmillanDymocksQBD | Amazon

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Thank you very much to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 7.38.38 pmWhat does it take,” I said, “to become a god?”

 

The Name of All Things is the epic sequel to a fantasy book that has already become an all-time favourite of mine. The Ruin of Kings was a stunning and complex novel with badass characters and a phenomenal storyline that kept me gripped to the page. A book such as this would be difficult to top, but Jenn Lyons manages to do just that with The Name of All Things.

While The Ruin of Kings followed Kihrin D’Mon’s story, The Name of All Things introduces us to Janel Theranon, whom Kihrin briefly meets in the first novel. The Name of All Things is Janel’s story, set during the events of The Ruin of Kings, told in flashbacks to Kihrin by Janel herself and her friend Brother Qown, in a small tavern in Jorat, with an ice-breathing dragon waiting outside to kill them all. Janel needs Kihrin’s help in killing a dragon before it awakens and massacres an entire city full of people. As Kihrin listens to Janel’s story, he discovers that her life is far more intrinsically entwined with his own than he realised.

Janel is easily one of my most favourite characters in this series, just behind the bisexual disaster that is Kihrin D’Mon. She’s such a powerful person who inspired a group of exiles, peasants and nobles alike to follow her, all of whom have decades on her. She has a fiery personality and a strong sense of justice and what is right. Brother Qown, on the other hand, is a sweetheart who needs to be protected at all costs. While Janel is all fire and ferocity and a natural-born leader, Brother Qown is calm and gentle, driven by knowledge and a desire to learn. This novel has a whole cast of fantastic secondary characters who readers will undoubtedly fall for, but I’ll let you discover how wonderful they are. Let me just say: Dorna rules.

Unlike The Ruin of Kings which had a non-linear narrative, The Name of All Things is told chronologically, with a brief return to present-day Kihrin in the tavern at the beginning of each chapter. I personally enjoy books with non-linear stories as I love piecing together clues dropped in chapters from different timelines, but I think many readers who perhaps struggled reading The Ruin of Kings will find The Name of All Things a bit easier to follow. Kirhin’s story resumes in the last 100 pages of the book, with an epic battle that the entire book had been leading up to.

Lyons’ world building continues to blow me away. In this novel, we follow Janel into the wilds of Jorat, the icy fortress that is Yor, and the mazed city of Atrine. Each city or country we’re introduced to is so vividly brought to life with phenomenal descriptions of its people and diverse cultures. They seem impossibly real, a mark of Lyons’ fantastic prose. I have to say that my favourite country that we’ve come across so far is Jorat, a place where gender fluidity and polyamory are ingrained into the culture. No one bats an eye at a trans person or a polyamorous throuple, which is as it should be. Janel herself is genderqueer, and she goes by she/her pronouns. In Joratese culture, she is a stallion, although to anyone someone outside of Jorat she would be viewied her as a mare because of her physical appearance.

I really appreciate Lyons’ discussion about gender and sexuality, and how she challenges the fantasy genre’s tendency towards white, cisgender, heterosexual characters. Its hard to believe that a genre that has the potential for so much imagination — a genre that frequently includes dragons, elves, centaurs, zombies, unicorns, mermaids, and so much more — still balks at the idea of including people of colour, queer people, trans or non-binary people, or disabled people in books. Or, when they are included, are called “unrealistic”: as in its “unrealistic that this queer person exists and has a happy ending”. I’m thankful for the authors like Jenn Lyons who challenge the stereotypical worldbuilding of fantasy novels that have been the norm for far too long.

The Name of All Things ups the tension and excitement of the first book in the series tenfold. Janel’s story is an adventure tale of epic proportions featuring gods, demons, dragons that can talk, unique magic systems, and the most incredible worldbuilding I’ve read in a very long time. Lyon’s writing draws the reader into the story and makes us fall in love again with beloved old characters as well as many new ones. I am dying to get my hands on the third book in the series, The Memory of Souls. I can’t wait to see where this fascinating tale will go next.

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About the author

7336269Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats, and a lot of opinions on anything from the Sumerian creation myths to the correct way to make a martini. At various points in her life, she has wanted to be an archaeologist, anthropologist, architect, diamond cutter, fashion illustrator, graphic designer, or Batman. Turning from such obvious trades, she is now a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing science fiction and fantasy. When not writing, she can be founding debating the Oxford comma and Joss Whedon’s oeuvre at various local coffee shops.

Connect with her:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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