Thursday, 19 February 2015

This Book could be Ours (5): The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

First in The Inheritance Trilogy
Genre: Adult, High Fantasy
Published: 25th February 2010
Publisher: Hachette Book Group Orbit
Length: 427 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: My local library

Tell me more, tell me more...

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.

(I've given up rephrasing blurbs for books I review. From now on all blurbs in Italics are from Goodreads.)

Why did I read this?

Internet hype is to thank for me picking up this book. I kept reading again and again on what felt like nearly every book blog that the trilogy is amazing and decided to find out for myself.

What I liked:

The story felt fresh and original: Sometimes it's hard finding new takes on high fantasy. The same old troupes can be dragged out time after time after time: for example, an orphan from a secluded village is fated to be the saviour of the kingdom in the battle between Good and Evil. Now, don't get me wrong: I like these elements in High Fantasy, just in moderation. I need some variety in the genre so it still feels exciting and intriguing.

This is why the genre needs imaginative authors like Jemisin who offer their readers something that's not the norm. Imprisoned Gods, a floating castle suspended within a tree in the sky, morally grey characters with hidden agendas... Need I go on?

Yeine: I have nothing but admiration for the main character. She fights back against being a pawn, does her best to protect her people and struggles with the grief of recently losing her mother. Despite being plucked out of Darre into the manipulative court of Sky, Yeine remains herself: a strong but screwed up character (such a believable combination) struggling to survive.

Hell Yeah Diversity: Yeine and the Darre are dark skinned. A couple of the Gods are suggested to be bisexual. This is perfectly ordinary in the book, as it should be treated as in real life.

The politics: It was interesting to see how becoming prominent in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms caused Yeine to create and change her relationships with her family, the Gods, Darre and its neighboring countries. Each of these aspects are addressed by Jemisin skilfully peeling away the layers and masks the characters hide their intentions behind. Usually I prefer high fantasy with loads of swash buckling skirmishes, but in this case the politics were just as good.

Who might like this?

Fans of High Fantasy looking for a strong, believable female character struggling in an unpredictable political environment with original world building.

Final Thoughts:

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was a fantastic introduction to Jemisin's writing. I'm eager to pick up the next book in the trilogy when I next feel the inclination to read some high fantasy.

Have you read any of Jemisin's other books?

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