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?
The Memory of Souls is book 3 in Jenn Lyons’ A Chorus of Dragon series. It marks the middle book of the set, and in many ways functions as most middle books do.
If you have been following me at all, you know I have a thing I say about middle books, whether they be book 2 in a 3-book series or the 3rd in a 5-book series: they so often set the stage for the 2nd half of the story. There is usually a lot of maneuvering, both physical and mental/emotional. Characters are moved around the map, and there is also mental/emotion manipulation happening to make sure everyone is ready for the stretch run. Do not get me wrong, I am not complaining. These are necessary steps to move the story along.
“Destiny can go piss in Rainbow Lake”, my father said.
In my opinion, The Memory of Souls does a lot of that. The main narrative of this book is that Kihrin and friends (and enemies ish?) need to convince the Manol vane to perform The Ritual of the Night. Supposedly, performing this Ritual will seal Vol Karoth back into his prison for a very long time. The problem is that this ritual has been performed several times already, and during those times of imprisonment no one has come up with a way to destroy the Demon King once and for all. The vane are not too keen on giving up their immortality for a temporary fix. This leads to a super-suspenseful storyline, as Kihrin et al know they do not have much time before Vol Karoth breaks free for good, the race is on to find a solution, and the Manol vane refuse to be part of it. Constant and persistent tension is a keynote of Lyons’ work in this series, and that continues in book 3.
“Not everyone worships the Goddess of Sex, but everybody poops.”
One of the author’s strengths in writing this series has been the ability to take an event like this (the Ritual of the Night) and spins it so it includes more information about the Universe that has been created. In The Memory of Souls the reader is delighted to a detailed history of the Empires, races, and genesis of the Gods and Demons. The kicker is that it seems so flawless – never an info dump, always a smooth-flowing narrative.
Another theme that persists in this book is the differing in perspectives. This one is told from Thurvishar and Senera’s perspective (as being ready by the Emperor of Qurr?), and I have really enjoyed how the author has not been afraid to mix up perspectives throughout this series (wait until book 4 when things really get hairy… holy moly! We will talk more about that later in the week). I cannot imagine being able to tell a story in so many different ways; it is like Lyons sees this Universe in 10 dimensions, and I think exploring that is a fabulous way to keep things fresh.
The one thing that I was not super enthralled with (and have not been the whole series) is the whole bringing people back to life thing. This is something almost always bothers me in stories (ever since Dragon Ball Z), because it is hard to do without cheapening the suspense. If death does not matter, then everyone should just be doing whatever they want because they will just be Returned. That is not exactly how things work here, and death does matter, but I will admit I do not quite understand the rules. Is it just up to Thaena to decide? I think that is the case, which creates an atmosphere where there is a lot of bargaining with the Gods. And that is fine, I just think there need to be more limits.
I found myself wondering just who had switched sides.
As always with this series, some things are not what they seem and there are plenty of surprises along the way to a phenomenally satisfying finish.
The Memory of Souls is another fantastic entry into the A Chorus of Dragons series. Lyons has proven to be a master of suspense, and this book does nothing to disprove that. I continue to recommend this series to all fans of fantasy.