The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love a good fantasy yarn about the rise and fall of the gods.
I love a strong female lead.
I love a story with ethnic diversity.
I love a story where all the above are done well.
Really, that right there would sum up my review of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. In the book, the author interweaves political intrigues, family discord, religious hysteria, and sexuality in what becomes a sort of coming of age story for Yeine, our heroine.
Or perhaps a more accurate description would be to say that she finally comes into herself.
In the novel, there are the usual intrigues of the fantasy genre - royal siblings making a play for power, mischievous gods, and a wealth of lands & territories to keep track of.
But all of that is done so well.
In brief, we have Yeine, the ruler of once proud and powerful land that is subject to the kingdom of Sky. Yeine herself is the offspring of a Darr father (from the land in which she rules), and a Arameri mother. The story begins with her receiving a summons to the city of Sky to see her aging grandfather, the ruler of hundred thousand kingdoms. From there, the political intrigues begin as she is thrust into a struggle between her two cousins for the throne. Along the way, her life becomes intermingled with that of the captive 'gods' chained to the Arameri and forced to serve them by the Bright Lord Itempas, one of their ranks who overthrew his siblings and cast them down to this life of servitude.
Yeine learns of the battles between the gods, their tortured relationships, and the extent to which they are willing to go in order to gain their freedom.
The focal point of the god stories told in this book is Nahadoth, the dark lord and father of the other gods imprisoned in the palace. Yeine is both frightened by the depth of the darkness which he embodies, and fascinated by him. It is their stories which help to shape the book, and ultimately lead to the turn of events in the climax.
The best thing that I can say about this book is that it was so engaging that upon finshing it, I immediately checked my local bookstores to see if the second book of the Inheritance trilogy was available, bought it the next day, and read it in one sitting.
I enjoyed Jemisin's style of writing (which only gets better in The Broken Kingdoms), and I enjoyed the worlds that she built with the Arameri, the gods, and their subjects. I thought the author was able to strike a good balance between Yeine's search for the truth, her own personal journey, and the epic stories of the gods.
Definitely worth a read.
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