Book Review : The Name of All Things

Book Review : The Name of All ThingsThe Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons #2) by Jenn Lyons
on October 29th 2019
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Pages: 592
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three-stars

"Everything epic fantasy should be: rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying. I loved it."—Lev Grossman on

The Ruin of Kings


You 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

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

The Name of All Things is the follow up to author Jenn Lyons’s The Ruin of Kings. Despite finding the previous entry in A Chorus of Dragons incredibly confusing, I still immediately wanted to pick up The Name of All Things. I found The Name of All Things to be a bit more straightforward than its predecessor, but surprisingly, I didn’t like this novel or how it was told quite as much. Though I was initially excited to find out more about main character Khirin’s love interest, Janel, I found I didn’t care much for her character in reality, nor did I enjoy the constant explanations about her culture. 

 

The Name of All Things follows Janel Theranon and her followers on quite the adventure. At first I was really excited to meet the badass demon slayer that Khirin met in the afterlife, but I found I didn’t like her very much. Despite having supernatural strength, fire powers, and amazing battle abilities, I was surprised that I found her to be so bland. To me, Janel seems selfish, too trusting, proud, and impulsive to me. I also didn’t like how she was View Spoiler »

 

“No,” said Relos Var. “Monster is such an easily digestible idea. Horrible, evil to its core, irredeemable. If I’m a monster, then anyone who opposes me is by logical deduction a hero, yes?” He leaned over. “It’s not that simple.

 

In fact, it feels like Janel has more interaction with people that are not her lovers from past lives. I really enjoyed her strife ridden relationship with Relos Var. Honestly, the villainous and immortal Relos Var was the standout of The Name of All Things for me. I loved seeing how complex his machinations and motivations were, and how it affected not only Janel and Khirin, but the Gods and the rest of the world. It doesn’t hurt that Relos Var’s true form is a dragon either, and Lyons certainly does a great job giving him a draconic personality, scheming and merciless. I was beyond excited to see his true dragon form in this novel, let alone his brawl with another all-metal dragon. I’m even more excited to see what Relos Var is up to in the next entry of the series, The Memory of Souls. 

 

I’m also hoping for a bit of a different storytelling method in the next entry. Though The Name of All Things definitely makes the narrative easier to follow than Ruin of Kings, which featured three different perspectives of the main character in different time periods, I really didn’t care for how this narrative was told. In The Name of All Things, Janel and her fellow traveler, Brother Qown, whom she inexplicably calls her best friend, take turns reading from his journal travel log to recount their journey to Khirin. Not only do I not understand how this man had any time to write anything down, with constant violent upheavals, kidnappings, and more, I quickly grew tired of the countless, “It’s your turn, I’m thirsty” or “I hate this part” remarks, which happen every single time Janel and Qown take turns reading from his journal.  

 

Unlike the previous novel’s interesting way of storytelling, which I found I actually enjoyed, I really found The Name of All Thing’s way of telling the story endlessly annoying. I think it felt forced, like the author wanted to keep her trademark unique storytelling forms at all costs, even if it didn’t work logically. It seems completely ludicrous that when a mythological beast underneath a lake is about to awaken and to lay waste to an entire city that the major players are just sitting around reading to each other. This is in comparison to other fantasy stories, like Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, which make the act of a narrator telling a story to an outsider feel natural. Instead, having Khirin come to a meeting place only for them to read to him what happened to them felt very abnormal and manufactured to me.

 

Her mouth twisted. “You’re conflating gender with sex. My sex—my body—is female, yes. But that’s not my gender. I’m a stallion. And stallion is how Joratese society defines our men. So you’re wrong; I’m most certainly not a woman.”

 

The other thing that I didn’t care for was the constant reiterations of Jorat culture. In Jorat, which honestly reminds me so much of Game of Thrones’s Dothraki down to the hair styles that signify one’s station in society, gender is not to be confused with sex. Stallion or mare refers to a person’s role in society, not their sex. Janel considers herself a stallion, which as she explains to Khirin, means she’s essentially “a female man.” At first I was really intrigued and excited by this society and the way it tossed out our own society’s gender norms, allowing people to have so much freedom of choice and for women especially to be on equal footing as men. Unfortunately, so much page space was dedicated to this cultural practice, as well as its constructs of thudjae and idorra, that I felt like I was constantly being beaten over the head with it. I was able to grasp the gender roles the first time it was explained, so constantly reiterating them made me want to groan. I get it, Jorat culture is different and Janel is special. Her stallion station in society is not a problem for any of her many love interests, so I wish it would stop being revisited constantly. 

 

“In ancient times, the god-king Khorsal had chosen us to care for his favored children—his firebloods. When those same firebloods joined humans in overthrowing Khorsal, our relationship had strengthened. Every Joratese child learns to understand our four-hoofed kindred.”

 

I was much more interested in Jorat’s relationships with firebloods. I would have gladly traded in the constant diatribes about gender roles for more information on the society of firebloods, intelligent, powerful “not horses” with tiger stripes and a language of their own, that are full citizens with rights of their own. What is the fireblood society and hierarchy like? I wanted to know way more about their herds and how the Jorat people learned to communicate with these mythological creatures. Plus, the fact that Janel has a special bond with a fireblood, Arasgon, was very interesting to me. But we never learn how her friendship with him was formed except in passing remarks, which state that he has been by her side for a very long time. He feels like more of a sidekick and plot device than a legendary creature in his own right.  I think it would’ve been more interesting if these firebloods played more of a role in Jorat culture, maybe helping to establish “mare” and “stallions” or something. Instead, I felt like the firebloods were quite underutilized in a society that supposedly completely revolves around horses. 

 

“Don’t pick a fight with someone who scares gods. Words to live by.”

 

At least readers were blessed with lots of dragons in this entry instead. There were also really cool depictions of lost, devious god-kings. I also absolutely adored seeing Tyentso as Emperor, even if she didn’t show up until the very end of the novel. Plus, Lyons’s great brand of humor is sprinkled the entire way through the novel, which is always entertaining. Khirin’s sarcastic comments are really what I live for, and I can only hope that the next novel is narrated by him. I also really did enjoy seeing events of The Ruin of Kings told from an outsider’s perspective, such as the breaking of the Stone of Shackles, even if the technique of telling it felt stilted to me. Though I didn’t like The Name of All Things as much as the first entry in A Chorus of Dragons, I am very excited to read the next entry in the series and to see how everything comes together!

three-stars
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Book Review : The Name of All Things - Blogging with Dragons

Posted April 26, 2021 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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