Spectacular! A slow confusing start as the heroine is immediately thrust into a dangerous political situation but there is no back story so you don't get a chance to "know" her before she is caught up in the political intrigue of the demented Arameri family. Yeine is the heroine so you assume she is the good guy but there is nothing to logically get you to this conclusion.
It takes a long time to figure out what is actually going on as there are many characters and their affilitions are complex and ever changing. The Arameri are a back-stabbing, violent, family-killing group. They enslaved their own kin so they can sacrifice them when needed for their own power. Truly a disgusting society.
The world building is terrific and the characters (good and bad) are well defined and complex. I particularly liked the Gods Sieh and Nahadoth. It will be very interesting to see where the next installment takes our Yeine and the Gods.
THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS is N.K. Jemisin's debut novel. It was released by Orbit, and is the first novel in The Inheritance Trilogy. The next two books are forthcoming.
The story follows Yeine, a young woman who has spent her life growing up with her father's people,the Darre. Her mother, Kinneth, was not of the Darre. Rather, she had been heires to the Arameri, a powerful family who rules the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. When she met Yeine's father, Kinneth had abdicated her place to marry him and go live with the Darre.
As the book opens, Yeine's mother has recently been murdered, and her grandfather has summoned her to the capital city of Sky. When she arrives, Yeine's grandfather names her co-heir with two of her cousins. This creates an immediate power struggle in which armies are marshalled against her homeland and Yeine's life is in danger.
As she learns to navigate the difficult channels of everyday life in Sky, Yeine finds an interesting set of allies. The gods of her world have been forced to live amongst the Amerami, serving as slaves to the mortals they created. One in particular, Nahadoth, is considered to be incredibly dangerous. Over time she begins relying on his support and companionship more and more as she tries to juggle Sky's dense politics and find out who killed her mother.
THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS is a really enjoyable book. Jemisin does a great job in creating Yeine and making her an interesting character. I also really liked the stylistic conceit used to spin out the story. It's a first person epistle that tells the story chronologically with breaks for commentary. The commentary sections have an interesting structure to them, which made me think that Yeine was an unreliable narrator. In the end, though, it was more reminiscent to what Christopher Priest did in his excellent novel THE PRESTIGE. And it worked rather well.
While I enjoyed the novel for what it was, THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS was a different novel than what I thought it was when I began reading. I got it on the strength of advertisements that I had heard on several podcasts. The way it was presented, it seemed to be heavily driven by the political struggles. And while that was a catalyst for much of what happened, the book focused much more on Yeine's relationship with Nahadoth. This wasn't bad, though. Yeine's character strength coupled with Jemisin's excellent prose kept me interested enough to continue with the book.
As mentioned earlier, this is the first novel in a trilogy. However it reads very much as a standalone novel. The story of Yeine resolves quite nicely. I don't know what role she'll play in the rest of the books, but I suspect she'll appear in the others.
I'd recommend THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS to those interested in romantic stories in a political setting, or first person stories. Also, this would be a good book to read if one has enjoyed the Rai-Kirah series by Carol Berg.
THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS, first in a new trilogy, is first-class fantasy world-building. Its luscious, dangerous, and impressive as hell, if occasionally dragging in pacing. Still, it is a must-read for high fantasy fans.
My favorite aspect of this book was by far the world-building. N.K. Jemisin succeeds in creating a thoroughly three-dimensional fantasy world, from its religion to its poisonous political factions. And all of this is nestled in the delectably increasingly claustrophobic setting of Sky, the castle-city in which all the shenanigans go down.
I struggled a bit with some characterization and the writing style at some points. I think Yeine is supposed to channel the strength and likability of memorable fantasy heroines, but for the most part she simply doesnt do much to inspire such regard. She is a political pawn, lacking in agency, so I understand that she is limited in opportunities in which to impress, but I still wish there had been more in-the-moment action and a little less reflection on Yeines part. My favorite characters were Nahadoth and Sieh, both gods and both stronger personalities than Yeine, and thus interesting to read about whenever they were granted story space.
Additionally, Yeines internal speech felt frustrating to me at times. I also understand that this was what had to happen (but I cant tell you why, since that would be a spoiler), but the more experimental narrative parts are rather jarring if one expects the traditional chronological narration that most high fantasies employ. Likewise, Im not sure if the experimental narration completely succeeded with me.
Overall, however, I was super impressed by THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS, and will not hesitate to read Jemisins future books even despite the elements of this book that didnt entirely work for me (because I know that that is very subjective nitpicking). Definite a great book if youre a fan of high fantasy!
I credited this book with 3 stars for the first half of the story, which was original and engaging. Somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way through, though, the story loses almost all sophistication and could even be considered a bit silly and trite. I was hurrying to finish and rolling my eyes as I did so. The author's writing ability just doesn't seem up to the challenge that her imagination presents. Ultimately quite disappointing, as I had been anticipating a great trilogy; now I'm not going to bother.
This was such a fun read! I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. The characters are all interesting. I always love the idea of gods and humans interacting. Jemisin does a wonderful job here. The first person narration never got annoying and I just always wanted more. The conversational tone was also very nice and helped keep me interested. The ending was a bit watery to me but it was still an interesting ending. Plus, it was a debut novel so it's pretty great even with that flaw.