Review: THE MEMORY OF SOULS by Jenn Lyons

Publisher: Tor Books
Page Count: 604
Release Date: 08/25/20
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars – Liked It!

Note: I was given a free review copy by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series. Reviews for previous books here: THE RUIN OF KINGS, THE NAME OF ALL THINGS

The Memory of SoulsThe magical cage that holds the evil god Vol Karoth is weakening. Tricked by Relos Var, Khirin accidentally destroyed one of the eight gems holding the prison together. Only one thing can repair the damage: the Ritual of Night. But the Ritual can only be powered by an immortal race sacrificing their immortality, and the Manol vané aren’t inclined to give up being the last immortal race on the continent. Complicating matters even further, Kihrin and Janel are beginning to remember their past lives – and the memories they recover reveal dark secrets from thousands of years ago.

I have a complicated relationship with the A CHORUS OF DRAGONS series. I always enjoy them moment to moment, but when I step back, I’m never quite sure who to recommend these books to. For instance, I’ve appreciated on occasion the liberties its taken with timelines, but this device has been very divisive in the past, particularly in the first book. In THE MEMORY OF SOULS, however, I found the beginning of the book very disjointed as it jumped across several viewpoints and points in the timeline, which I was trying to keep track of while also matching up my fuzzy memory of previous events to what was happening now. It eventually becomes much more linear of a story, but it wasn’t a great first impression. However, that could almost be forgiven by the fact that, after three books, I FINALLY understand what the heck is going on in the grand scheme of things.

A CHORUS OF DRAGONS has an incredibly complicated mythology and world-building, made more complicated by magic that allows reincarnation and soul-swapping between bodies. I’ve long since given up trying to track who is related to who, in part because at the end of the day, it feels like everyone is related to everyone. In a very Greek mythology feel, whenever you have a group of characters together, every character is either related to, has slept with, or murdered (and none of these necessarily exclusively) every other character in the room. After a great deal of repetition of facts across three books, I’m getting a handle on the dynamics, in part because connections that were obscured are coming to light.

That is, after all, the crux of the book. While the past two titles have referred to particular magical artifacts, THE MEMORY OF SOULS refers to the fact that Kihrin, Janel, and Thurvishar are finally remembering their past lives, and in doing so, are remembering events that set this whole business into motion to begin with. Every book in the series has taken a slightly larger view of the world, and now we’re delving into the origins of the gods themselves, as well as the great evil Vol Karoth. Pieces that I didn’t know where to put are finally clicking into place, now that I have a fuller view of the board, and I almost want to go back and reread the first book now that I understand the connections.

As mentioned before, I really enjoy the moment to moment beats of THE MEMORY OF SOULS. That includes a truly spectacular end set-piece, and watching court politics revolving around some very complicated laws of inheritance, given that people dying and coming back to life isn’t unheard of. But in this book in particular, I felt like plot was given precedence over character. With more viewpoints than in either of the two books, I felt like I should have gotten to know people better, but I was a little cold on newer characters, particularly Talea. While I appreciated some of the romances, others just left me baffled, despite the author taking some time to establish them.

THE MEMORY OF SOULS is an instance where a book isn’t bad, it’s just not as great as it could have been. There are so many balls in the air, so many plots upon plots, and just SO many characters, I didn’t really latch onto one person in particular. I have a soft spot for Thurvishar, though he isn’t a POV character, and Janel, who I adored in the last book, only gets a handful of POV moments. Kihrin is instead one of the main POVs, and while he’s fine, I miss Janel. If you enjoyed the first two books, you’ll find a lot to appreciate here, particularly among some of the more twisty history moments. Despite the ups and downs, I keep being drawn back to these books. I’m on this train until the end, despite it being an occasionally bumpy ride.

5 thoughts on “Review: THE MEMORY OF SOULS by Jenn Lyons

Add yours

  1. Hmmm, I’m even more intrigued to continue! Also, I need to check if this series has a wiki. If there’s ever a series that is in need of a wiki it’s this one haha. Glad that you mostly enjoyed this one! (I agree it’s a tough recommendation….there’s so much going on…who is the target audience?)

    Liked by 1 person

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