Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Book Review

by N. K. Jemisin
ISBN: 9780316043915
Release Date: February 25, 2010

Pros: a lot of good interpersonal relationships, unique mythology, excellent worldbuilding, interesting characters (particularly Sieh), some romance

Cons: the political maneuverings of the potential heirs takes a back seat to other affairs (which is only a con in that I was expecting the book to deal more with the politics of the Kingdoms)

The Hundred Thousands Kingdoms is a fantasy novel that grabbed my interest from page one and didn't let it go. Yeine Darr is narrating 2 very interesting weeks of her life. At times she interrupts her own story to mention something she forgot to say earlier or something about the world and its people she thinks you should know. This makes for an engaging read as it's almost like being around a camp fire and hearing a live storyteller (in the way that dialogue feels real even though people don't speak the way dialogue is presented).

Yeine is a leader among her 'barbarian' people. She is also the half-blood granddaughter of the current ruler of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. And he has called her to Sky for reasons she does not know.

While there, she plans to force her grandfather to admit to her mother's murder.

But once in Sky Yeine meets Nahadoth, Sieh, Kurue and Zhakkarn, one of the Three Gods and his children. They were defeated by Bright Itempas and made slaves to and weapons for the Kingdoms' Arameri rulers. And they have their own plans for Yeine.

Jemisin has developed a distinctive voice, which was a pleasure to read. Her characters are engaging and sympathetic - even when they're doing things you otherwise wouldn't agree with. The plot is deceptively simple, gaining in complexity as the story progresses. You'll think you know what the ending is going to be. You don't.

The contest between Yeine and her cousins to see who will become the heir to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was more of a backdrop to other events than the main plot, which surprised me. I would have liked to see more of the conflict - backbiting, political maneuvering, etc.

The Gods and their history are fascinating. From their various births, their jealousy, hatred and love, to the war that rips them apart, you can't wait to learn more about them.

It's a great book and the sequel promises to show more of the world Jemisin has created.

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