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, seat of the ruling Arameri family. 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 a pair of 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.
I’ve now read two books in the women of genre fiction challenge. The first was from 1816. This new one is from 2010. I must admit that when it comes to fiction, I am a modern girl. Where Frankenstein left me somewhat disappointed, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms did just the opposite. I adore this book.
N.K. Jemisin‘s debut novel (the first of a trilogy) was a lot of fun to read. The story caught me right away, and my only real problem with it was the last part where the narrator’s tone changes. It does that for a reason (Although the more I think about it, I don’t think that shift was necessary. But whatever, it didn’t ruin the story.), but it was still somewhat startling. I just didn’t like that tone as well as I did the previous one.
Because Yeine Darr is a cool character to follow and listen to as she tells her tale. Given what the odds are against her, she’s rather amazing. Brave, clever, sarcastic: she’s all that. The world Jemisin creates is fascinating, too. So many countries (um, about 100,000, I’m guessing), so much intrigue: it all fits together quite well. I’m curious how things will play out in the rest of the series.
And then there are the gods. Apparently, there was a big war between the many gods of this world, and only one of them won. The rest were then enslaved to the Arameri, the extended family that rules over the rest of the 100,000 kingdoms. Yeine meets four of these gods when the family patriarch calls her to the capital city to fight for her right to inherit his position. They both help and hinder her in her quest to survive and discover who killed her mother. I found myself particularly fond of the trickster god Sieh and the warrior goddess Zhakkarn. The Nightlord, I’m torn about, as is everyone in the story. He’s like a mix of Morpheus from Sandman, Dante from Adrian Phoenix’s Maker’s Song series, and, well, Angel.
The Nightlord is a bit of a brooder. Which is understandable. He could destroy the universe if he wanted to, but he’s enslaved to be one of Yeine’s rival’s boytoys. I know I’d brood if I were in his position.
I’m rambling, but The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a fun story to ramble on about. One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much, besides the story itself and the characters, is Jemisin’s prose. She has a way with a phrase, and she came up with what may be the best metaphor for a woman’s orgasm ever. (Not telling. You just have to read and find out.)
And similes like this:
p. 71 And the sound was carried along as the earth rolled over like a sleepy child…
p. 91 In my land the forests were thick and wet and dark as mysteries…
I want to dive into that last sentence, and there are many like it.
I definitely recommend The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms to anyone who’s in the mood for a good fantasy read. 4.4/5