REVIEW | The Memory of Souls | Jenn Lyons | A Chorus of Dragons #3

“Fourteen thousand years old,” Relos Var repeated. “And let me spell this out – the problem with immortality isn’t that you forget things. It isn’t that you grow bored – there is always something new to learn. It isn’t even watching the people you love who aren’t immortal die – that’s tragic but loss is part of life. No. None of that. It is watching the people you care about make the same stupid fucking mistakes again and again and again.”

The Memory of Souls is the third book in the A Chorus of Dragon series, following: book one, The Ruin of Kings which I reviewed last Wednesday; and book two, The Name of All Things which I reviewed last Friday! There are two more books to go in this epic fantasy series, and I can’t wait for them – this one released earlier this month, so be sure to grab it while it’s hot.

Rating: 5 stars!

Thanks to Tor UK for sending me a finished copy of this book. It has not affected my honest review.

Trigger Warnings: misogyny, murder, mentions of slavery, gore, cannibalism, sexual assault (perceived consensual sex however one person was under an enchantment at the time, so could not consent), violence, non-consensual drug use.

The plot:

Now that Relos Var’s plans have been revealed and demons are free to rampage across the empire, the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies—and the end of the world—is closer than ever.

To buy time for humanity, Kihrin needs to convince the king of the Manol vané to perform an ancient ritual which will strip the entire race of their immortality, but it’s a ritual which certain vané will do anything to prevent. Including assassinating the messengers.

Worse, Kihrin must come to terms with the horrifying possibility that his connection to the king of demons, Vol Karoth, is growing steadily in strength.

How can he hope to save anyone when he might turn out to be the greatest threat of them all?

What did I think?

Holy god, this book. I’m not exaggerating when I say that when I finished this book I had to put it down for a second and stare into the middle distance. These books have been getting better and better, I noted that in my review of The Name of All Things, and this one really has taken it to a whole new level. The Memory of Souls jumped straight into the action, with the worldbuilding taken care of in the earlier books and characters introduced and reintroduced, this book was pure plotty goodness. I literally read this in two sittings, including one 400 page sprint today where I just… didn’t stop until I’d finished. Honestly, I could have read this whole thing in one go, but I forced myself to put it down and sleep last night. The pacing is perfect, the balance of POVs is incredible and created a fleshed out story with multiple views of what was happening without breaking it up too much or making it confusing. We had my beloved Thurvishar back as our chronicler this time, with Kihrin helping him to write down everything they remember before they do… something drastic.

The ending of this is brutal and violent, and builds to such a crescendo that I felt anxious and helpless reading it. I wanted to do something but I’m simply reading Thurvishar’s chronicles and I would be no use at all anyway. I’m no hero, but hey, neither are our main characters. I love that the premise of this series so far hasn’t been ‘let’s save the world’ so much as ‘let’s try not to destroy it’ and once again Jenn Lyons plays with the concept of good and evil to its limits. One of my favourite things about this series is that at times I honestly can’t tell you who is on whose side – or even who I would side with, because sometimes that isn’t the main characters. I love that characters who hate each other are forced to work together, and that everyone’s loyalties are constantly in flux as information from these and past lives threaten their relationships. It makes it utterly intoxicating to read as I can’t predict what’s going to happen from one page to the next.

The relationship between Kihrin, Teraeth and Janel is strangely enough one of my favourite background things going on in this book. It’s complicated. Really complicated. They’ve all known each other in past lives, some been married in past lives, some hurt each other in past lives. Their emotional triangle could be a trite love triangle that would drive me away from all three of them. Instead it feels like the early exploration of a potentially polyamorous triad. There’s some beautiful moments of realisation in this book that made me honestly squeak like a teenage girl – and I don’t even like romance. I cannot wait to see how this develops in the last two books and I’m praying there’s no bait and switch, because they’re a perfect group and I adore them individually and together. I’m talking a lot about Kihrin, Janel and Teraeth, but I refuse to neglect my absolute favourite – Thurvishar D’Lorus is everything to me and I will kill and die for him. I love whatever hot mess is going on with him and Senera, and I can’t wait to see how that develops as they probably try and kill each other.

I do think this works a lot better on paper than it would in e-book form. I think I would struggle to read an eARC, which is why I’m delighted to get a finished copy of this one from Tor – though I’m a little disappointed that means I’m going to have to wait until release date to read the next one. Because the footnotes make such a good experience (Thurvishar, you’re so gd funny), there are absolutely vital charts in the back explaining genealogy and because this is a complicated and nuanced story, I think potentially I’d miss some of the experience if I didn’t have it in my hands to flick through and reread sections. But honestly? That’s no hardship. I will definitely read these again and again (no doubt realising more and more nuanced bits I missed as I go) and I’m so glad to have them sat on my shelves in pretty hardback form.


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