The Hundred-Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

I posted recently about the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin, a series I read (well, OK, listened to) like it was my job. Jemisin created a fantasy world like I had never seen before, with elements of science and magic that were completely new in my experience as a fantasy reader. She's done it again with The Hundred-Thousand Kingdoms, the first book in the Inheritance series.

Yeine Darr is the leader of the small, barbarian nation of Darr when she is called to the capital of the Hundred-Thousand Kingdoms, Sky. She is the daughter of Kinneth, an Arameri nobel, daughter to the current head of the clan. Kineeth was disowned by her father when she married a non-Arameri and escaped with him to his tiny nation of Darr. Teine's grandfather, Dekarta, head of the Arameri clan and king of the realm in all but name, has selected her as one of his heirs. However, this is not an occasion for celebration. Dekarta has no intention of Yeine ever actually taking the seat of power. Her job is to be the family sacrifice to the god Bright Itempas, naming another as heir in the moment of her death.

Into this already complicated situation come the Enefada, consisting of the god Nahadoth, brother to Itempas, and his children. They have been enslaved by Itempas to serve the Arameri as punishment for losing the Gods' War millennia ago. The Enefada have spent centuries trying to free themselves from their captivity, and they see Yeine as just the ally they need. Yeine, for her part, wants vengeance on Dekarta and the Arameri for her mother's death, and so agrees to align herself with the Enefada to take down her clan. Let the scheming and conniving begin!

Much like in the Broken Earth series, Jemisin's worldbuilding is unique and unlike anything else I've read. Despite how much action there is, almost all of the story takes place inside the palace of Sky. The story is taut with tension, and unlike the Broken Earth series, it is also full of sensuality and some pretty explicit sexy-time. It is very definitely a fantasy novel for adults. It deals with themes of love and betrayal and revenge and destiny...there are so many facets of the story that it was sometimes hard to keep them all straight. Once again Jemisin makes good use of first-person narration, telling the story from Yeine's perspective, allowing the reader to feel the full weight of the many emotional aspects of the story. By the time the story concludes, I felt like I'd been put through the wringer, but in the best possible way.

The story continues in The Broken Kingdom, which I am about a third of the way through now. It picks up the story some years later and introduces a whole cast of new characters that bring a new point-of-view to what you already think you know. I'm excited to see where Jemisin takes the story next-with her, you never know, even when you think you do!

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