Book Review : The Memory of Souls

Book Review : The Memory of SoulsThe Memory of Souls (A Chorus of Dragons, #3) by Jenn Lyons
on August 25th 2020
Pages: 624
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Now that the city of Atrine has been destroyed and Relos Var's plan to free the dark god Vol Karoth has been revealed—the end of the world is closer than ever.
To buy time for humanity, Kihrin, Janel, and Thurvishar must convince the king of the Manol vané to perform an ancient ritual that will strip the vané of their immortality—a ritual that certain vané will do anything to prevent. Including assassinating the ones bringing the news.
Worse, Kihrin must come to terms with the horrifying possibility that his connection to Vol Karoth is steadily growing in strength. How can Kihrin hope to save anyone when he might turn out to be the greatest threat of them all?

A Chorus of Dragons series
The Ruin of KingsThe Name of All ThingsThe Memory of Souls

Full disclosure, I was a little nervous about picking up The Memory of Souls, as I did not enjoy the last book in the series, The Name of All Things, nearly as much. I also saw quite a few negative reviews on Goodreads, so I tried to get a handle on my expectations going into The Memory of Souls. So imagine my surprise when I found The Memory of Souls to be just as enjoyable as the first book in the series, The Ruin of Kings, if not even more so. I found The Memory of Souls to be faster paced, with characters less concerned with their own anxieties and also with what they thought they should be doing, and I think the story-within-a-story-narration annoyed me the least out of all the other books in the series. However, like all of the other A Chorus of Dragons books, I still found it incredibly confusing. 


The Memory of Souls had tons of action and was incredibly fast paced. Gone were the long-winded descriptions of the gender roles of Jorat, with Janel’s constant descriptions of idorra and thudjae. Thank God. Instead, characters are being kidnapped, resurrected, possessed, teleported, murdered, and confronting dragons, angry Immortals, demons, and assassins. I especially enjoyed the introduction of some new characters in this novel, like Valathea, and Grizzst, as well as the return of familiar faces, like Talon, and Therin. I think what endeared me to The Memory of Souls the most was that most of the novel revolved around what I think of as the fearsome foursome of Khirin, Janel, Teraeth and Thurvishar. Other parts of the story followed Talea, Xivan, and Senera, who I quite enjoyed reading about. Senera has especially grown on me in this novel, and I really enjoyed her love for her dhole, Rebel, and her extremely reluctant romantic feelings for Thurvishar.


“Who could fight Vol Karoth? This wasn’t something you could kill or defeat. This wasn’t someone you could slay. Vol Karoth didn’t even have to try to kill. All he had to do was exist.”


But what I liked even more than following some of my favorite characters on a journey where they were reunited, was that the majority of The Memory of Souls focuses on the recurring theme that what is right is simply often from the eye of the beholder. In this novel, alliances are constantly shifting, growing, adapting, being destroyed, or being rekindled. Instead of being annoyed by these constant realignments, I found that it really made sense to me. On a quest to save the world from a terrifying creature known as both The King of Demons and Vol Karoth, it’s obvious that people are going to have different or changing opinions. I especially liked that we were seeing the Eight Immortals, who are worshiped as gods, as far less than perfect, and in some cases, as villains. I’m a sucker for people overthrowing corrupt gods, so this new turn of events really tickled my fancy.


“We have let you rule yourselves as you will,” Tya said, “but humanity’s need has become too great for us to overlook your foolishness anymore. We have no time for this.”


I really liked this new portrayal of the Eight Immortals and other immortal characters in The Memory of Souls. It put me a lot to mind of Greek Mythology, with the gods infighting, scheming, and all sleeping with one another at some point. Though I clearly enjoy seeing fallible gods, I must say that the lineage got even more confusing in this novel. Not only do we have The Stone of Shackles making people heirs to multiple thrones, but we have dragons and gods sleeping together, and people’s past lives where they were together. It’s a lot, as it always is in this series. Despite reading these books in fairly quick succession, I still can’t keep everything and everyone straight, and I don’t even try anymore, to be honest. I just go with the flow, and use the glossary in the back when I’m particularly confused by who someone is, how they’re related to someone, or what their other names and titles are. 


“’You’re going to see that people—normally good people—will justify ugly deeds if they think it means their survival.’ She touched my cheek. ‘That doesn’t mean they’re right. Don’t blindly accept solutions born of fear. You’re smart enough to find better solutions.’”


Another thing I truly loved about The Memory of Souls was the character development.  I really liked that Kihrin, especially, slowed down, thought about all of his options, and even pursued avenues other than what his friends and allies thought was best. He wasn’t afraid to side with his enemies if he thought it was actually the right thing to do, which is something I admired. I think this shows that Kihrin has really done a lot of growing as a whole. I also enjoyed his mysterious relationship with Vol Karoth and I’m honestly not sure how that’s going to work out, which makes me want to pick up the next book as soon as possible. On the other hand, I was less than thrilled with Kihrin’s love life, as it’s a whole mess. Kirhin is romantically interested in both Janel and Teraeth, and they are both interested in him and each other, and all of them can remember some of their past lives when they were romantically involved before. Though progress is definitely made in all three of their relationships in The Memory of Souls, I still really wished that all of them didn’t remember their past lives so clearly because it would be a lot less of a headache for them and for me, the reader.


“Teraeth had been fine when we’d previously argued over a woman, but this was Janel. Teraeth wasn’t rational when it came to Janel. Then again, neither was I.”


I also can’t help but feel that the series was previously really pushing Janel and Kihrin hard, to the point of there being a prophecy about their relationship. And this could still be the case, as one of Janel’s past lives might hold the key to defeating Val Karoth, but I couldn’t help but feel that their relationship got dialed down a lot more. Instead of the two chosen ones, Kirhin and Janel forming a romantic bond, they have now formed a throuple (I hope this is the correct term, please correct me if I’m wrong) with Teraeth. I found this development really interesting, because I think a lot of novels choose the same route, where the main guy gets the girl, and there is usually some sort of third party jealously trying to prevent that relationship from happening. This tried and true plotline usually adds a lot of drama to the story, so I was pleasantly surprised that The Memory of Souls abandoned the familiar altogether and went in an arguably healthier and more supportive route, even if it’s somewhat of a foreign concept to me. 


“He sighed. ‘More and more, I wish I didn’t remember who I used to be. People shouldn’t remember their past lives. It hasn’t done me any favors.'”


I also found it endlessly entertaining for Thurvishar to watch all these young adults struggle with their feelings while the entire fate of the world is at stake. This man has the patience of a saint. I also enjoyed Kihrin watching Tereath anger Janel repeatedly and have to explain to him what he was continually doing wrong. Ultimately, though it’s all complicated chaos made even more difficult with the memories of past lives and romances flooding in, it’s an interesting and completely unique quandary. I’m also honestly relieved that Kihrin, Janel, and Teraeth came to this arrangement (even if it was somehow never outright discussed, which blows my mind), because I couldn’t deal with all of the stress of everyone’s conflicted and bottled up feelings! What a relief for them to all be on the same page, even if it’s a less conventional one. I hope the characters can all spend less time stressing their relationships in the next entry in the series, but I feel that it’s probably only headed for more drama. 


“We should skip the rest of Senera, Talea, and Xivan’s story for now.”

Kihrin frowned. “You’re not going to finish?”

“Oh, I’ll pick it up again later, but in between this and when we become involved, it’s more of the same, really.” Thurvishar grimaced at his notes as though the paper itself was somehow culpable. “They traveled through at least ten more city-states. Always the same story—arriving in town one step behind Suless. I believe it’s a tale that would probably grow stale with repetition.”


Despite the seriousness of what everyone is trying to accomplish in The Memory of Souls and the fact that the stakes are higher than ever before, author Jenn Lyonns had me cracking up while reading. Characters love to sass one another and it is just so realistic, witty, and off-the-cuff, that I can’t help but to love it. I really admire the author’s ability to so effortlessly weave in humor, what with the apocalypse being nigh in The Memory of Souls. Likewise, I even found that I am perhaps finally getting used to characters telling their stories to one another, and jumping all over the timeline, something that occurs in every title in A Chorus of Dragons, one way or another, and to which I honestly thought I would never grow accustomed. I also liked that more of my questions surrounding Relos Var, Val Karoth, and the past lives of the characters were answered.


“But they cared a great deal that the new Quuros emperor had somehow managed to insult them all by being born a woman. If they had their way, she’d have the shortest reign of any emperor in recorded history.”


The only thing that I didn’t really like about The Memory of Souls, other than the fact that I’ve just had to accept my own inability to remember everything and everyone and their relationships, is that there wasn’t more of Emperor Tyentso. I really love her character, and she’s not present for much of the book. I am hoping she will have more page time in the next book in the series, as I feel she should be a major player in the fate of the world in her new role as Emperor. But with the cliffhanger ending, I really don’t know what to expect. I’m so glad I can jump right into the next book, as I would’ve hated not to have that option with how The Memory of Souls left off. 


For me, The Memory of Souls is one of the stronger entries in the series A Chorus of Dragons. The pace was much faster, the stakes are higher, and many characters have grown up a lot since the beginning of the series. It honestly surprises me that a series that is, as a whole, incredibly puzzling and challenging, remains so enjoyable to me. Normally my inability to keep everything straight would frustrate me to no end, but I find I’m ready to start the next entry in the series as soon as possible, confusion and all. If you enjoyed the other books in A Chorus of Dragons, I think you will definitely enjoy The Memory of Souls. 


Book Review : The Memory of Souls - Blogging with Dragons

Posted July 19, 2021 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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