oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen
oracne

N.K. Jemisin, THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS

I finished reading my ARC of N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms a couple of days ago, and having been thinking of how I can be interesting about saying I really liked it.

Here's the official blurb:
"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 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 together."

For me, the prose was the major selling point; that along with the angst and audacity of holding gods captive. Jemisin's prose is, put simply, gorgeous. It has a rhythm that effortlessly drew me into the fantasy world she created. Never once did I doubt Yeine's voice, and every sentence made me crave more of it.

Yeine is young - not yet twenty - but before the novel begins, she's chief of her people in the matriarchal country of Darr. She's also grieving for her mother, whose recent unexpected death was suspicious. Now she's a stranger in a strange land, given privileges she didn't expect, doesn't want, and distrusts. There's a lot in this novel about privilege: privilege granted by the gods' favor, privilege of wealth and attendant political power, privilege of social rank. The human privilege on display interacts with the implications of captive gods in ways I found fascinating.

So far as the plot went, Yeine's cousin and grandfathers were in opposition to her, but to me they weren't the point at all; the point was Yeine's developing relationships with two of the captive gods, Sieh and Nahadoth, and even more importantly, Yeine's coming to terms with her mother and the choices her mother made. Those relationships were incredibly deep; the gods in this novel have the same depth and complexity as gods taken from "real world" mythology - Sieh is a child god, but also a trickster, and an adolescent torn by grief and doubt, and an old god borne down by grief; Nahadoth is darkness and glory and fear and danger, but also poignant grief. Yeine's mother was just as complex and contradictory, both a loving mother and a ruthless politician, and in some ways more privileged than the captive gods, because she had power over them.

All in all, a wonderful book, and one that I think will reward rereading.

Amazon link to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which will be out in February 2010.
Tags: reading, sf/f
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