The second installment in Lyons’ Chorus of Dragons saga (The Ruin of Kings, 2019) continues the grand-scale fantasy adventure with a parallel story revolving largely around the demon-tainted noblewoman Janel Theranon, whose heroic exploits helped trigger a revolution.
Trapped together in a storm house as a blizzard rages outside, Theranon and her acolyte guide Qown take turns recounting their epic adventure to Kihrin D’Mon, a reincarnated god and protagonist of the first volume. The story involves their attempt to save a massive city—the magical city of Atrine—from destruction by killing the largest dragon the world has ever known. After witnessing the devastation of a smaller city by blue “witch-smoke,” Theranon realizes all the supernatural chaos and prophecies surrounding the awakening of the dragon are part of a much larger conspiracy that has been meticulously plotted out by a mysterious mastermind. Magic and manipulation abound as Theranon and company desperately race to save the day while wizards, demons, gods, and humans do battle. While the pacing of this second installment struggles in spots—due in part to the repetitive nature of the points of view—there are numerous elements worthy of mention. The intricacy of the storyline, the bombshell plot twists toward the end, and the humorous, snark-filled footnotes are high points, as is the author’s talent for descriptive prose. So many images are made memorable by excellent description, including the city of Atrine, the subterranean cave systems of Yor, and the metal dragon Morios. "Steel and iron...every metal, a thousand metals, all twisted together in sharp swordlike tangles to form the dragon's body. It resembled a porcupine warped into nightmare, formed by an insane and malevolent god." Also intriguing is the genderfluid culture of Jorat. Theranon, in particular, is a wonderfully complex and endearing character whose gender mutability enriches the narrative tapestry: “I am in fact a female man.”
Simply put: This is top-notch adventure fantasy written for a 21st-century audience—highly recommended.