Saturday, February 20, 2021

Review: The Memory of Souls by Jenn Lyons

by Jenn Lyons
Release Date: August 25th 2020
2020 Tor Books
Hardcover Edition; 638 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250175571
Genre: Fiction / Epic Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

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 vanĂ© to perform an ancient ritual which will strip the entire race of their immortality, but it’s a ritual which certain vanĂ© 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?
My Thoughts
The Memory of Souls is the third book in the A Chorus of Dragons saga, and while I don't think I liked it as much as the first book in the series, I still thought it was well done and enjoyed the continuing revelations and developments that are making this series a bit different from what I originally thought it would be.  It is a bit confusing, a bit jumbled, dealing with reincarnation so you have to keep track of the current characters plus all of their past lives including their current and past relationships which can be quite confusing, but I thrive on that kind of stuff so I quite happily immersed myself in the confusion and just went with what was happening. Having read a few book that dealt with reincarnation, I really liked how this author developed her own system of rebirth and the craziness of their past lives and how it complicates their present lives.  

First of all, the craziness of the characters was fun, and the author took the relationship between Janel, Kihrin, and Teraeth to a much deeper level, one that explored their past relationships and emotional connections that included some pretty complex romantic dynamics centered around gender fluidity and reincarnation.  I am not typically a fan of romantic triangles, but this is not a teenage angst type of situation, but one that developed over thousands of years, through many different lives, and the characters began to remember those past lives in this book, which complicated the relationship as well as their reactions to each other and their emotions.  It was sometimes difficult for them to know whether they were reacting due to their current feelings or because they were being manipulated through their past lives and I found this fascinating, wondering how I would feel in their situation.  Personally, I am invested in what happens and I really hope the author continues to develop this situation in future books.

The depth of the past lives scenario doesn't just affect our three heroes however, as many of the characters also had many past lives, and I spent a lot of the book trying to remember and figure out who was related to who and how they all inter-connected.  And then we meet some people from different races who are able to change their gender as they develop and evolve and I found this concept fascinating as well.  Even Teraeth is capable of changing his gender due to his race and now I am left wondering if this will happen in the future.  I am of mixed minds about his as I love his character the way he is so I am not sure what will happen if the author decides to do so, but I have taken the attitude of just going with everything so I guess we will see.  And naturally, all of this reincarnation and rebirth poses a huge issue when it comes to inheritance, exactly the situation that was set up in this book. 
As another relationship developed in this book, the threads started to come together and I finally got a better understanding of what was happening between Kihrin, Relos Var, and Val Karoth, although I am still not quite sure who is the villain and who is the hero. As soon as I thought I had that figured out, something happened and sort of dumped my ideas on my head and now I was left trying to refigure things out again, but I am still sort of confused, in a good way.  The finale in this book explodes in a way I wasn't expecting and wow, that ending.  There were demons and gods, the vane, and pretty much every character you could think of at that final explosive battle and things did not go the way I thought they would; and out of that 'battle', new concepts and ideas about what was actually happening also came to light.  Things are going to change a lot in the next book, that's for sure.
I really liked how these books were written and they do jump around quite a bit from character to character, but I if you are patient, it makes sense.  One of the things I did have a problem over was the kindle edition and luckily I received both a hardcover and a kindle copy for review as I hated the kindle copy.  Because it's written in a type of journal format with comments from the author thrown in all over the place that give us extra information, the kindle had the comments all listed at the end of the chapter and I had to go back and check where they all fit which grew annoying rather quickly.  I finally gave it up and switched to the hardcover edition where I could reference them immediately and that was so much better. You do need to pay attention to everything however, as even the smallest thing could be important later on, which I found out the hard way.
The Memory of Souls was a fun addition to this series and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  While the first two books in this series focused mainly on Kihrin's and Janel's stories, this one focused on a variety of characters as well as some new ones that were mentioned in previous books but whom we hadn't yet met. There was a lot happening so I highly recommend you read the first two books in this series first, or it may be quite confusing.  Nor sure why anyone would want to jump into the middle of a series anyways, but not recommended for this one.  The author does a great job of adding twists and turns that I never saw coming and I will admit I am not sure where this story is going in the future, but I am definitely looking forward to finding out when the next one, The House of Always, is released in May.