With The Name Of All Things (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook), writer Jenn Lyons is continuing the the Chorus Of Dragons pentalogy she started earlier this year with The Ruin Of Kings. In the following email interview, she discusses how these books connect, what inspired this second installment, and how it was influenced by the biggest movie star in the world.
Photo Credit: Matthew & Nicole Nicholson, Dim Horizon Studio
For those who didn’t read the first book, The Ruin Of Kings, what is the Chorus Of Dragons pentalogy about and in what kind of world is it set?
It’s so funny to me that I can expertly describe someone else’s book series so easily but when asked about my own I quickly become a stumbling mess. Besides the obvious (dragons!) the series is, on a literal level, about a young man who he’s at the center of a group of prophecies that claim he is going to destroy the world — which is a bit of an issue for him, since he doesn’t want to.
And then what is The Name Of All Things about, and how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, to The Ruin Of Kings?
The Name Of All Things takes place three days after The Ruin Of Kings. Although like the first book, a lot of the narration deals with events which occurred during the previous four years — just not to Kihrin. Relos Var and Duke Kaen of Yor play much larger roles in this book.
When in relation to writing The Ruin Of Kings did you come up with the idea for The Name Of All Things and how did the story evolve as you wrote it?
Oh, I always wanted to tell Janel’s story but knew that there wasn’t enough space (not nearly enough space) in the first book to do so. So I always knew The Name Of All Things was going to happen.
That said, Jorat and the culture of Jorat evolved a great deal over the course of writing the novel, and I was as surprised as anyone to look down and realize what I’d written owed so much to [Sir Walter Scott’s] Ivanhoe (there’s a bit of a gender-flipped Ivanhoe / Robin Hood vibe happening.) And originally Xivan Kaen wasn’t even meant to be a character — she was background story for Duke Kaen. But I realized as I wrote that I’d basically fridged her. Hilariously, I ended up leaning in to that. Xivan is literally both frozen and dead — she’s just not letting that slow her down.
The Ruin Of Kings was an epic fantasy story. Is that how you’d describe The Name Of All Things, too?
It’s still very much epic fantasy. Although I’m happy to say it’s also about 200% more gay than the first book as well.
Are there any writers or specific stories that were a big influence on The Name Of All Things but not on The Ruin Of Kings?
Ivanhoe! I’ve already been fascinated by that story, and in particular what an influence it’s had on our modern perception of Robin Hood (hint: many of the elements we now accept as “canon” for Robin Hood are in fact backstory for Ivanhoe.)
How about non-literary influences; did any movies, TV shows, or video games have a big influence on The Name Of All Things?
Godzilla. Absolutely Godzilla. The whole Godzilla / Kaiju oeuvre. You’ll understand once you meet Morios.
Speaking of video games, you previously worked on such games as Lord Of The Rings: Conquest and The Saboteur, and in the interview we did about The Ruin Of Kings [which you can read here], you said that, “There’s one chapter in particular…well, I won’t give anything away, but I can’t imagine anyone finishing it and not thinking, ‘yes, of course the author worked in video games.'” Is there anything similar in The Name Of All Things as well?
No, mostly because the reason for that chapter — the character who caused a video-game loop of fail/repeat — has little to no page presence in this book. Much as that scene was fun to write, a similar scene wouldn’t have served a purpose here. But I do have a city-sized dragon, so I feel it balances out.
So after The Ruin Of Kings came out, did any of your old coworkers call you up and say, “Hey, Jenn, I loved the book. Would you be interested in writing the script for my new game?”
No, no one has. I suspect they think I’m too busy. Which…isn’t necessarily wrong. I’m not against the idea, but I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, a reliable steady income would be lovely, but that said, I know writers who work in the game industry, and most game companies are…unsympathetic…to the idea of a creative working on their own IP on their own time. It’s a rare game company that doesn’t try to have you sign a contract claiming that all work you create while working for them belongs to them, even if you do so on your own time.
Ew. Anyway, as we discussed earlier, The Ruin Of Kings and The Name Of All Things are the first two books in a pentalogy. Has it been determined what book three will be called and when it will be out?
The Memory Of Souls, and it should be out next August.
What about books four and five?
Books four and five are less certain — I have working titles, but my working titles have yet to survive their trip to the editor’s desk.
And is the plan still for it to be five books, or have you written or come up with ideas for any side stories that could be short stories or novellas or even more novels?
Oh, I do have some ideas for more novels in fact. I just recently had to cut quite a lot out of book four because it was wrong there, but really needed to be a novel all on its own. So that goes to the side, and we’ll see what happens.
You also said in that previous interview we did that the rights for the Chorus Of Dragons pentalogy had been options by Annapurna Studios, who are developing it into a TV series. Where do things stand with that now?
Hollywood very much works at its own pace. The show is still in the earliest stages of development and I’m still very excited about where it might lead but…nothing is certain. An option does not mean any sort of guarantee, but Annapurna has been wonderful and I’m extremely excited to see where they take this.
And do you know if they’ve reached out to Vin Diesel about playing Thurvishar yet?
I’m pretty sure they haven’t. And not only would it be too early, but I’m pretty sure Vin Diesel only does movies.
Finally, if someone enjoys The Ruin Of Kings and The Name Of All Things, what fantasy novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read while waiting for the The Memory Of Souls to come out? Aside from Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon The Ninth and Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside; you said those last time.