Monday, 19 September 2011

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
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 - a palace above the clouds where gods' and mortals' lives are intertwined. There, to her shock, Yeine is named one of the potential heirs 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. But it's not just mortals who have secrets worth hiding and Yeine will learn how perilous the world can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the story of Yeine, told by her, but it is also a way to present the world of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (yes, it's actually called that) and its history. The story in itself only spans two weeks, from the day Yeine arrives at Sky, to the day of the succession ceremony, but those are two weeks filled with action.

Yeine is, at best, an unreliable narrator. The story is being told from a point somewhat towards the end of the book and, as I read on, I could start to put the pieces together about what would happen. But most of the times it did confuse me (and sometimes not about the plot, but about whether I had a faulty print or not).

What I loved the most in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms were the gods and its mythos. I am a sucker for creation myths and all the different ways the gods make the world. In The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the creation of the Universe is more of a by-product of the gods fights and quarrels and games, than a desire to create something new and alive – with a few exceptions, of course. And this plays right into the way they relate with the mortal humans, how they see them, how they use them. A part of the past of this world, the Gods' Wars, is also told, as a lot of the plot is a consequence of something that happened then. It would make a nice prequel to this book, the story of how it happened.

Every god that appears in this book has a personality of his own, and none of them are black or white (in the moral sense), even if there is a strong symbolism associated with the light/day god and the darkness/night god – meaning that colour and affinity with either night and day are not a sign of good and evil. Of all the gods that appear, the one I loved the most was Sieh who, for most of the book, is a child and trickster. Nahadoth comes in close second, for all his different sides, depending on the time of the day and his mood.

It makes sense to like these two the most, they are the most drawn out, the most important, the ones who actively contribute to the plot. But that would mean that I would also love Yeine, which is not true. Is not that I dislike her, but I never really cared for her fate. Or her love life and her troubles (thankfully there weren't many – just big ones). Maybe because, thinking about it, there is not much of consequence that she does. She follows leads and learns things, and is harassed by relatives and gods, but there are only a few points where I could say "there you go, you've done something to make sure you are not going to die in the end".

As for the story itself, there were good points, but by the end I felt it had all happened too fast. I was glad for its resolution, and happy with its ending, but had it taken longer to reach it, I would probably like it more.

But it was a nice fantasy novel, filled with action, and a lot of hints to its history and mythology that would love to see expanded in the following books.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews: A Few More Pages | Book Lovers Inc. | Fyrefly's Book Blog | Good Books & Good Wine | Jawas Read, Too! | Libri Touches | To Read or Not to Read 

This Book on: LibraryThing | GoodReads | BookDepository UK | Book Depository US | Amazon UK | Amazon US |


  1. You didn't care that much for the heroine in this one, but I'm sure you will for the next one in the series, Oree, she's freaking amazing. :D You have to! Oh, I adore her...

  2. I hope so! Your review made she sound amazing :D

  3. Well, this looks interesting enough ;)

  4. It is interesting, give it a try :)