Thursday, July 29, 2021

Reviw: The House of Always by Jenn Lyons

by Jenn Lyons
Release Date: May 11th 2021
2021 Tor Books
Kindle & Hardcover Editions; 544 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250175670
Audiobook: B08JG3PCVF
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5 Stars
The Eight Immortals have catastrophically failed to stop Kihrin's enemies, who are moving forward with their plans to free Vol Karoth, the King of Demons. Kihrin has his own ideas about how to fight back, but even if he's willing to sacrifice everything for victory, the cost may prove too high for his allies.

Now they face a choice: can they save the world while saving Kihrin, too? Or will they be forced to watch as he becomes the very evil they have all sworn to destroy.
My Thoughts
The House of Always is the fourth book in the A Chorus of Dragons series, and I have truly appreciated this series for its character study as well as the story.  Being the fourth book, I am now more familiar with the way the author likes to tell a story, so I was not surprised to find the characters all locked together and forced to relive each other's painful memories as a means of continuing the story.  I actually found it refreshing, and while I had no idea where the story was going at the beginning, once it started to take shape, I thought the twists and turns were fascinating.
The characters find themselves locked in Shadrag Gor and while there is not a lot of plot development in the sense with which we are familiar in fantasy stories, the author takes the time to tell the POV of the characters, revealing new information to things that have already occurred, making you rethink what you already knew.  It was an exploration of actions and deeds that occurred after the events of the last book and I found it fascinating to learn what the other characters did and thought about it all.  It also gave me a chance to get to know some characters a bit better, and I have become quite fond of all of them.  And while at first it seemed like it was going to be repetitive, it was anything but as I learned things I didn't know and explanations were given that explained what was happening in greater detail.  Plus, I loved the concept of them all being stuck together, having to figure things out together, having to survive and help each other, and not really knowing exactly what was going on, learning as the memories were revealed to all of them.  
The book does advance the story, but it does it in a way that puts the story line second and puts the focus on the characters and their actions.  Because it was done this way, it allowed the author a chance to really explore the relationships between the characters and I enjoyed that tremendously.  The focus is not just on Kihrin, but on all of them, and I enjoyed learning more about their own personal relationships as well as the growing relationships that seem to be developing.  That being said, there was definitely some action towards the end as well as a twist I didn't see coming although I should have if I had paid more attention.  The ending was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it tremendously; it was a nice surprise considering so much of the book jumped back and forth between memories and what Kihrin was doing.  This book was definitely a lot easier to keep track of with regards to past lives and who was who; although I didn't struggle with that aspect in the previous book, I know a lot of people had trouble keeping all the lives straight.  The author did continue to explore the mythological aspect in this book as well, something I appreciated.  
I did start out reading this book through Kindle, but was so happy to get a hard copy as one of the devices the author uses is footnotes.  By this book, you know who is writing the chronicles so there are interesting, and sometimes sarcastic / humourous, footnotes added throughout the book.  I loved these footnotes and looked for them all the time, but my Kindle version had them at the end of the chapter so it was distracting; I actually preferred the hard copy edition just because of these footnotes.   

The House of Always is the fourth book in a series that I have enjoyed quite a bit and have been pleasantly surprised over the way it has been written.  I love character-driven books and this one definitely makes character development a driving force in its plot development.  There was lots of action, betrayal, twists and turns, but it is long, somewhat complex, and you have to pay attention to everything, what some would refer to a slow-burn.  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something slightly different although I don't recommend jumping in at this point but starting from the first book.  Looking forward to the last book in this series, The Discord of Gods, when it publishes in April next year.