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The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons

The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons
4.5
Book Name: The Name of All Things
Author: Jenn Lyons
Publisher(s): Tor Books
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: October 29, 2019 (US) October 31, 2019 (UK)

Many fantasy stories tend to focus on a set of characters within one central setting. Then, there are the stories that take place across generations and various locations. The former follows a story that can end within one book, and the latter can result with either a saga, or a series. Jenn Lyons does the latter with the second book in A Chorus of Dragons series, The Name of All Things.

The protagonist in this book is Janel Theranon. She is a noblewoman from Jorat—a dominion in the Quuros Empire—and the granddaughter and heir of Count Jarin of Tolamer. In the Jorat Dominion, the denizens identify themselves based on their gender and their gender identity instead of biological sex. Janel identifies herself as masculine and wears clothing which are considered to be masculine. This is essential to know because when circumstances force Janel to leave Jorat, she is forced to deal with the misogyny and the gender discrimination as she journeys throughout the Quuros Empire. Janel is on a quest for two things: one, a spear powerful enough to slay a dragon; and two, Kihrin D’Mon, who is said to be in possession of a legendary sword. Once Janel locates Kihrin, she tells him everything that occurred during his time with the Black Brotherhood, including their first encounter.

Janel is not alone during her long and arduous journey across the Quuros Empire. She is accompanied by her long-time friend, Brother Qown—an acolyte of a religious order—a chronicler who is writing down the events that led him and Janel to Kihrin. Another character Janel interacts with is Relos Var—an immortal wizard who is obsessed with prophecies and dragons—who was responsible for Janel’s “imprisonment.” Then, there is the Black Knight—a fighter from Jorat who participates in tournaments—who Janel and Brother Qown track down. Finally, there is Kihrin D’Mon, who after his ordeal, is willing to listen to Janel’s story while providing confirmation of small details mentioned by Janel during her recollection of everything she experienced.

One of the things that makes The Name of All Things standout, is its sequence within A Chorus of Dragons series. While this book is the second one in the series, it overlaps the events in The Ruin of Kings. This means these two books are meant to be one colossal tome. This fact is impressive because some of the events in one book intersect with the other, and there are a few recurring sequences of events, narrations, and characters. This choice of narration allows for further plot development, character development and worldbuilding to occur within this book.

There are two things I enjoyed about this story in relation to Lyons’ style: One, is how this story is presented as a “wait, there’s more” factor, which combines the ongoings of two protagonists—Kihrin and Janel—into one renown moment that occurred in conjunction within the Quuros Empire. Two, is how the story uses (biological) sex and gender (identity) not only to distinguish one culture from several other ones, but also to permit the characters to construct their identities surrounding their gender. In Janel’s case, whenever someone questions her gender, they are questioning her identity, which she takes as an insult (as she should). The components of one’s identity is mentioned throughout this book, and it is the reality found within the fiction.

I believe the sort of story the author was trying to tell in The Name of All Things involves the concept of coincidence. In this book, the characters (and the readers) realize the ordeals the characters experienced happened by “chance” in tandem. There is a sense of foreboding that more is about occur than a group of exiles and misfits believes is possible. By the end of Janel’s story—where the narration occurs in present tense—it isn’t the figures of the prophecy the world needs to fear but the reason for those prophecies. The threat is greater than the characters (and the readers) can grasp.

If you enjoyed The Ruin of Kings and wish to know what happens next while learning more about the world Lyons created, and the ongoings surrounding the characters, then you have to read The Name of All Things. Readers and fantasy fans will note the parallels to J.R.R. Tolkien’s use of overlapping narratives and appreciate the author’s decision to keep the stories of the two protagonists within two separate books. Yes, there is another cliffhanger at the end of this book, but the events resume in the third book in the series, The Memory of Souls.

The Name of All Things is a bold sequel to The Ruin of Kings. Lyons presents not only a sequel, but a follow-up to her first book, which lets her audience know the events from the first book were an affair situation compared with what happened in another part of the world. Both the characters and the dragons are as engrossing as they were in the first book, and the worldbuilding continues to be majestic as we all learn more about it.

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