Camavor is a brutal land with a bloody legacy. Where the empire’s knights go, slaughter follows.
Kalista seeks to change that. When her young and narcissistic uncle, Viego, becomes king, she vows to temper his destructive instincts, as his loyal confidant, advisor, and military general. But her plans are thwarted when an assassin’s poisoned blade strikes Viego’s wife, Isolde, afflicting her with a malady for which there is no cure.
As Isolde’s condition worsens, Viego descends into madness and grief, threatening to drag Camavor down with him. Kalista makes a desperate gambit to save the kingdom: she searches for the long lost Blessed Isles, rumored to hold the queen’s salvation, if only Kalista can find them.
But corruption grows in the Blessed Isles’ capital, where a vengeful warden seeks to ensnare Kalista in his cruel machinations. She will be forced to choose between her loyalty to Viego and doing what she knows is right–for even in the face of utter darkness, one noble act can shine a light that saves the world.
I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher, Orbit. All thoughts are my own.
Riot has finally written a League of Legends novel!! I started playing LoL 10 years ago (holy shit) and my biggest wish with this game is for deeper lore dives. The world of Runeterra has such promise and there are so many interesting characters and stories that they deserve more than the single paragraph bios they’re given. Arcane was an amazing first step (and also a phenomanl TV series) but there’s something intrinsic with lore than only a book can deliver and We. Finally. Have One. Even better. the book is damn good!
This review is aimed towards readers with little to no familiarity with the League of Legends franchise. Maybe you’ve seen Arcane, maybe you’ve never even heard of League. This review is for you. For those familiar with League, check out the review I posted on Reddit instead.
The story Ruination tells is, for the League community, a fairly well known one. It’s the tale of how the Ruined King came into being, a figure legendary to many of the League of Legends characters. For this review, however, I won’t assume readers have any famliarty with the story. The ‘Ruination of Helia’ page on the League of Legends wiki will have a good summary explaining the general outline. For those that want to go in blind, just be aware that this story is a tragedy.
Let’s get into the review itself. Riot is known for their strong characterwork and Ruination is a fantastic example of that. Our main character, Kalista, is a refreshing beacon of loyalty and justice admist a rise in morally-grey characters in the epic fantasy genre. Reynolds does a fantastic job depicting her internal conflict between the loyalty to the throne and her King and close relative Viego, and trying to help the common people as Viego slips further and further into madness. Viego, raised a spoiled prince taught nothing about ruling, becomes someone you both pity and hate for his actions. Clearly none of these events would have taken place without his doing, but it’s so painfully obvious how much he’s being used by the court around him to further their own schemes.
Across the sea in Helia, there’s Erlock Grael, one slimy psychopathic bastard that makes for a success and hateable villian. As someone effectively abandoned by the supposedly Enlightened society and forced into the constant darkness of the underground, the constrast between their lives were incredibly stark. Again, another character that readers will both pity and hate.
Because Ruination as a general outline has been known for a while, I was really interesting in seeing how Reynolds would flesh out the details. It would have been very easy to stick with only the previously known players and I love that they flesh the story out so much more. There is an intricacy in the plot, and the game of ‘who’s the blame’ would never have a winner. The pacing is quite quick, but I never felt like I was being rushed through any major decisions, any character epiphanies, as I read.
For those unfamiliar with League, Reynolds has crafted a world where no background knowledge is required. The easter eggs are fun and one could spend hours going down rabbit holes in the lore wiki, but the story itself is fully contained. All the major plot points, important worldbuildling details, etc will be easily understood by both both crowds alike. This little quarter of Runeterra comes to life through the course of Ruination and it opens up the world for so much more history and exploration.
Perhaps my strongest criticism with this book is that I wish the societies of Camavor and Helia are more fleshed out and given more depth. One of the major themes in this story is the idea of priveledge, and that’s echoed through multiple pairs of characters: Hecarim and Ledros, Viego and Isolde, etc. However, the exploration stays fair surface level, a binary have/have not, that I wish was expanded on more. Likeiwse, we see a common theme that ‘Camavor has a corrupted question culture’ after the nobility gets greedy, and again, I wish there was more exploration of how that corruption came to be, how that affects the common people or Camavor’s neighboring countries, and how that corruption is fueled today. The first arc could have had an extra 20-30 pages to really pad it out and the rest of the story would have benefitted.
Overall, I rate this book a 4.5/5. The strong character-driven nature of Ruination and love/hateable villains made reading Ruination such a joy and I cannot wait to see what else Riot has in store.
r/Fantasy 2022-23 Bingo Squares:
- Standalone (hard mode)
- Cool Weapon (hard mode)
- Published in 2022
- Title sans the, a/an, and, or, if , of but
- Features Biological Family Ties