Reviews of Previous Books in the Series
Review of The Memory of Souls
The Memory of Souls is book 2 in Jenn Lyons’s A Chorus of Dragons, which I believe will be five books. If you haven’t read the first two books, there will be spoilers of those books, in this review due to the nature of discussing the ‘now’. So, stop and go check out my review of book one, The Ruin of Kings.
I have mixed emotions regarding The Memory of Souls. It takes the best parts of book two, The Name of All Things, and the world Lyons has created, but brings back the worst part of book one, The Ruin of Kings: unnecessarily convoluted.
As I have mentioned in previous reviews, Lyons has created a wonderful world. It’s deep with culture, history and diversity. I cannot help but be impressed. There are a variety of cultures, each with their own legal and political systems, history, and heritage. Daemons. Tiers of gods, who are not actually gods, but each have their own domains. Dragons, each with their own history, quirks, and abilities/powers. Tenye. Tisali stones. Reincarnation. And so much more.
Furthermore, Lyons does a great job of writing diverse characters and relationships, such as the love triangle between Kihrin, Janel, and Tereath. Their relationship dynamics are great to read, the emotional pushes and pulls they each feel is complex. It’s clearly, for me, heading towards a polyamorous relationship. Gender fluidity is also an aspect explored in this series. We have the Joratese system of mares and stallions, which isn’t defined by gender; people being reincarnated multiple times and not always of the same gender; and, something that we learn in The Memory of Souls, there is a people who can change their gender later, but I won’t spoil this.
As I am sure you can imagine, with such a complex world, there are many characters, and much is happening/has happened. This creates a complex story, which is rich and very interesting. But, the format for this book created what, at least for me, are unnecessary distractions. Book one was convoluted and tough for readers to follow, or at least immerse themselves. Book two was far superior in my opinion. Not at all convoluted. I think that is a theme you’ll likely find in reviews where readers have taken the time to write a review which is more than a quick sentence or paragraph.
“Plummeting to his death was starting to sound quite appealing.”
So, book three. The Memory of Souls is littered with endnotes. They are everywhere. There was one section I read which had ten endnotes! I don’t know about you but I do not want to be flipping back and forth through pages to check out an endnote as I hit the, I also don’t want to get the end of a section, then go back ten times to check how the endnote fitted with that section of text. I found this massively distracting in the early stages of the book, and I also found the endnotes to be 90% a waste of time. Once I got to around 20% in the book, I had trained myself to ignore the little numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. within the text, then skip the endnote. This greatly improved the flow of reading and made the experience much more enjoyable. I could enjoy the world and immerse myself in its history and current happenings.
Now, I know some people will say, but you are reading a chronicle: the story is told by Kihrin and Thurvishar, who alternate retelling events. Therefore, they are adding endnotes to the chronicle. I’m of the opinion it is still entirely unnecessary. If you’ve worked in academia, or studied a degree or higher qualification, you’ve likely had lecturers, or at least you should have had lecturers, tell you to absolutely minimise footnotes/endnotes unless absolutely necessary. More often than not, you should be able to put that context in the main body of writing. It’s distracting to flip back and forth through text.
Furthermore, at times there are small interludes where Kihrin and Thurvishar talk between the texts, which gives the impression they are reading, or reciting these stories to one another. You wouldn’t have endnotes in a verbal discussion. Though, I get this is a written chronicle.
Anyhow, here are some examples or endnotes:
‘Funny as in odd, not funny as in humorous’ – I can surmise this from reading the text. There are several occasions where you have this kind of endnote.
‘An erotic dance.’ And ‘Talon uses this term to refer to the collection of personalities she’s absorbed.’ I knew both of these because I’ve read the first two books. Again, this is a common type of endnote.
‘Guilty.’ ‘That’s fair.’ ‘I have zero trouble believing this.’ ‘Technically. Physically anyway.’ ‘Technically still true.’ ’I take offence.’ ‘He’d gone gambling.’ – With these examples, I can understand, or already know through the text, but these could easily be in the main body. I don’t enjoy seeing a number in the middle of a sentence, flip forward several pages and see ‘Guilty’ and then go back. Or the reverse, where you hit the end notes and flip back through the book. As I said earlier, one section had ten!
“It turns out you don’t automatically get a happy ending just because you’re the hero of the story.”
Thankfully, the endnotes eased up later in the book. They were still there, but not in numbers of 4+. Or maybe, I’d trained myself to completely ignore them.
Should you read this? Of course. It’s a great story and wonderfully complex world. For me, this series is made for TV. I would not be surprised to see this picked up by a TV production company at some point.
The ending was pretty epic too! So, I am looking forward to how thing develop in book four… I just really hope we go back to the format of The Name of All Things.