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?
So, here we are, Book Three in A Chorus of Dragons, The Memory of Souls. Review Three, in my no-spoiler reviews of the series. Safe to say, it’s been a complex and intriguing journey so far. By now the brain-fog has worn off and I’m fully versed with the many, many facets of Kihrin’s journey, the many reincarnations the main characters have had until they are their current iteration (yeah, these books span the histories and events of many timelines condensed into four main characters), and I’ve kind of got my head around it now. How they all relate to each other, and who is whose ex-wife or brother from another life has sunk in (kind of). The Memory of Souls tackles just that: who were they before they were themselves? The memories from their previous lives really come in to play here.
In this book, we pick up the story from Kihrin’s POV, Thurvishar’s retelling of Grizzst’s story (the famous wizard who created the Quur’s crown and sceptre among other things), and Talea, Xivan and Senera’s journey to kill Suless. Of course, they all weave and wind together: Vol Karoth is awake and they must pool all of their resources to find a way to put him back to sleep again, with the Ritual of Night. To do this, Kihrin and his party venture to the Manol Jungle with a plea to the Vane to give up their immortality to save the world. It doesn’t go to plan … not entirely.
I couldn’t help but escape a sense of security in this book; now, in book one and two, we’re getting to know the four Hellwarriors and that sense wasn’t as prevalent. Although, now we know the Eight Immortals are kind of on their side and what they have at their disposal—Thaena especially, albeit she is grumpy—and the artifacts and magical healing they can use, there’s a distinct lack of danger for the main four. That’s not to say that this series doesn’t cover loss, damage of all kinds, and all sorts of gruelling trials. I just like my SFF characters to be in danger, to fight for their life, and I don’t think that feeling is possible in this series with all of the magical plot armour that is available. That’s not to say the dragon fights aren’t amazing and the magic isn’t spectacular, but none of it feels dangerous. Which is okay, because the book isn’t about that.
Lyons proves again and again that she is the master of complex story-telling; in simultaneity here, we have stories from the past and present finally converging—the creation of Vol Karoth, the Eight Immortals and the rescue of Relos Var by Grizzst as well as the present day struggle. It displays how cleverly the events of the series have been happening for thousands of years. They’ve been trying to stop it and failing so far, so how on earth can four young warriors stop it in their lifetime? Yes … there’s no immediate danger, but there’s the foreboding that the world is going to end, and a monster so terrifying it eats demons cannot be stopped. And this reader cannot see a way they’ll manage to do it.
There’s a strong sense of wonder that comes from the scenery in this book. Lands, castles, palaces inside great trees, all of it experienced as if I was there myself—the language is vivid and fully-realised. I truly feel like I’m travelling around the Empire of Quur. There’s a strong sense of place, an incredibly rich sense of being there as it happens in The Memory of Souls.
The battle scenes in this one are spectacular and the losses are felt–it’s worth noting when such a huge battle/war scene comes off with the clarity it was intended. Though I felt like there could have been a little less talking throughout, the end was quite event. And now, honestly, I’m just waiting for the next one. A long wait it will be.
I’ve said it over and over again, Lyons is a master-worldbuilder down to the last detail. This is how fantasy should be described and written—a series that takes everything good from the old greats and wields it as a fresh idea, coupling that with modern day inclusion and a strong, hearty plot.