Monday, June 13, 2011

Review of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history.With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together.
Right from start of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms I was hooked on finding out the fate of our young protagonist, Yeine Darr. With the recent death of her Mother she thought she knew entirely, she travels to Sky where she quickly learns that she doesn't even know half the issues, secrets, lies, games and whatever other skeletons her family hides. A quote from Cersei Lannister can sum it up the best, "In the game of thrones, you either win or you die." And that my friends is exactly what our young Yeine is up against. Understanding, that it probably was more fluff than necessary, I was kinda hoping to dig a little deeper into the back story of Yeine. Don't get me wrong, I don't think this took away from the story in any way shape or form. Being the character driven reader that I am, I was just curious at the peaks into her history that we did get and it left me wanting a little more, that's all.

This book was a great change of pace for me in the fantasy worlds that I have been navigating lately. When Yeine is thrown head first into the raunchy politics of recently becoming an heiress to the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, she has to act quickly and strategically to outwit what seems to be everybody else in the immediate Kingdom. A place where nothing goes unnoticed the odds are not stacked well in her favor. Especially, when put up against her cousins Scimina and Relad, the leading two candidates in the running for the throne. Oh, man, Scimina... How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways... And to that same regard, I can only imagine the kind of justice for such behavior in the hands of a god. Man, I wish I were a fly on the wall for everything in store for her.

It has to be said that Nahadoth is my favorite character of this story. Saying that he is a god just doesn't give him the credit that the complexity of his nature demands. The descriptions our wonderful author gives us of the Nightlord is in a word, remarkable. I love it when characters like Naha are so fleshed out you can close your eyes and see them standing right in front of you. It has to be said that this is not the only character that Ms. Jemisin does this with. All the main characters of the story have this and the story works so well around them.

Musical interlude not really related to the review but put in just because I was thinking of it and well, I can:

The Universe that Ms. Jemisin has created for us, honestly is unlike any setting that I have read about in a very long time. The idea that gods and godlings walk and breath and communicate right along side humans was absolutely fascinating to me. What takes this idea even further is that these gods are enslaved to the humans. Using their power to bend the universe to our will. Over the course of the novel you find out just how this all happened and it is a history lesson that I would have been glad to sit through back in the day. This world is highly imaginative and is a great setup for future books in this series. And with the gods right there at each turn, I am super excited to pick up the next novel The Broken Kingdoms. It is no wonder that the city in which this story takes place is called Sky because it really is a breath of fresh air. Thank-you so much Ms. Jemisin for a look into the depths of your imagination. And what a great world you have created for me to escape to. I have never been a student of language, but this story hooked me with great characters and great writing. And as it progressed the prose got better and better. Does the story develop the writing or does the writing develop the story? I don't even know if that question makes sense... But this is some awesome story telling magic.


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