3.04.2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Hundred
Thousand Kingdoms
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms caught my interest right away and I read the entire thing in one day, on Sunday. N.K. Jemisin's world building and prose remind me a lot of Brandon Sanderson's work in that, while it has a few of the hallmarks of epic fantasy, it has a life and an originality that you don't ordinarily see. This was a very enjoyable read, and I very much look forward to the next installment when it's published this fall.

Jemisin is skillful in balancing world building with story. She has a recursive style that follows the protagonist's thoughts back and forth through the plot and into Yeine Darr's memories. The story opens with Yeine on her way to Sky, the world capitol, after being recognized as a long, lost heir to the throne. One there, Yeine struggles to find her place in the hierarchy and adjust to cruel customs. What makes this book special is its magic. Rather than a magical system, all the supernatural stuff comes from gods who lost a war against other gods.

My favorite part of this book was Nahadoth, the god of the night. While I don't pretend to understand all of his actions and motives (the love story seems a little thin until certain details are revealed towards the end), I had the most sympathy for him, since he seems to have suffered the most. Jemisin's world has a complicated and fascinating mythology--another reason I'm looking forward to the next book; I want to know more.

The other thing I liked about this book was that Jemisin didn't let herself fall victim to the temptation to leave loose ends to be wrapped up in subsequent books. Yeine and Nahadoth's stories end at the end. (A surprisingly novel concept for some writers.) I've seen part of the first chapter of the second book in the series and, judging by what I saw, it centers around totally different characters and begins some time after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. This means that this book had an unusually satisfying ending. Very good book.

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