Camavor is an ever-expanding kingdom, reminiscent of the Roman empire, the British empire, or even the United States. As their new young king, Viego, pushes into yet more territory that doesn’t belong to him, an attempted assignation changes everything. His wife is poisoned during the attack and nothing can stop the venom. Viego begins to fall apart and so does his kingdom. In an attempt to save the kingdom she loves, his cousin Kalista goes searching for the mystical cure that is the queen’s only hope. But will her journey lead to salvation or ruin? Find out in Anthony Reynolds’ Ruination.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Orbit for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of Ruination contains some spoilers!]
Camavor: a proud nation in danger
Kalista is a princess and a warrior. If things had worked out differently she would currently be the queen of Camavor but instead, she watches as her immature and volatile Uncle Viego takes the throne. There are some who would rather see Kalista in his place. She has a level head and is a good leader which would make for a great Queen. But she has no desire to rule Camavor.
Kalista believes she can best serve her home by leading the host, the low-born soldiers that serve as Camavor’s army. She’s a leader who treats them with the respect that other nobles rarely do, and they give her their undying loyalty in return. Kalista is happy with her life.
Then the assignation attempt happens. Kalista manages to foil the main goal of the attack by saving Viego, but his wife is hit by the poisoned knife instead. All the physicians in the kingdom try to save her but nothing works and she steadily gets worse. For many kings, this wouldn’t have mattered but Viego had married Isolde for love. As her condition deteriorates, so does Viego’s mind. The kingdom begins to fall apart.
As he searches everywhere for a cure, Viego happens on the legend of the Blessed Isles and the waters of life. Convinced that he has, at last, found a cure for Isolde, Viego sends Kalista to find the Blessed Isles and bring back the water. Never mind that no one in living memory has ever been there and he wants her to head to a blank spot on the map. Kalista is sure it’s a fool’s errand but if it will calm her Uncle and help Camavor then she is willing to go.
Ruination is based on a popular video game
Reynolds bases his Ruination in the world of League of Legends. League of Legends is a popular team-based strategy game that has been around for over a decade. The game is so popular that it was one of the original e-sports games and many colleges offer scholarships to play it for their e-sports teams. I’m sure fans will cringe when I say this, but at its most basic, League of Legends is Capture the Flag. Sure, it’s more complicated than that, but I said “at its most basic.”
Reynolds uses geography and some character names and bios from League of Legends to craft his story. Giving a true background and origin story to these characters is an interesting concept. I’m sure that fans of the game will really enjoy a deeper dive into the lives of these characters.
A fun book that turns really dark in this League of Legends world
Ruination has three distinct phases to it. The opening where the queen gets poisoned and Viego begins to decline, Kalista’s journey, and the fallout from her journey. The first part is pretty standard fare for a fantasy book. Kalista’s journey was a lot of fun. The captain of her ship, Captain Vennix, is a complete riot. I wish she had been present for more of the book because I love her.
But the fallout from Kalista’s journey is pretty grim. I’ve never played League of Legends so I’m not sure if it fits more with the tone of that game. But it was rather surprising to me. I kept expecting things to go one way and was really shocked when they didn’t. I would still read the book because I enjoyed the rest of it, but I was very disappointed in the ending.
One of the best things about Ruination is the gallery at the end of the book. There are some fantastic portraits of the main characters, which are really pretty and helped with visualizing the characters. I was a little surprised and saddened that there wasn’t a picture of Ledros. It felt like the low-born of the host, the infantry of the army, was still being discriminated against! Still, the gallery was a nice inclusion.
Author Anthony Reynolds certainly kept me guessing
I did enjoy reading Ruination even if I didn’t like the ending. And it really kept me guessing right until the end. I kept expecting it to turn out a certain way so I kept coming up with ideas of how it could end that way. I do have to say that if I played League of Legends and was familiar with the characters, I probably would have expected things to go differently and I wouldn’t have been so disappointed.
Reynolds has crafted an engaging fantasy novel full of memorable characters in Ruination. Viego is pretty despicable but Kalista is a very noble woman (no pun intended). She gives hope that those in power can care about even the lowest members of society. Ledros is the perfect picture of true love and sacrifice. And Vennix is the quintessential mischievous, fun-loving, pirate captain (think Captain Sparrow but with morals).
The characters alone are enough reason for any fantasy lover to pick up this book, but League of Legends fans will especially love it. That being said, if you’re looking for a happy ending, you might want to look elsewhere.
My Rating: 7/10
Ruination: A League of Legends Novel by Anthony Reynolds is available now! Are you interested in checking it out? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our review of The Book of Gothel!