Since Invasion of the Tearling was such a letdown, I’ve been searching for another fantasy series to get lost in. Say hello to book 1 of N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Total pages: 425
Btw, I exercise more caution about spoiling books than movies, but there are still a reasonable number of spoilers here.
Though The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms begins with a premise so worn in fantasy that you think you know exactly where it’s going, don’t worry–YOU DON’T.
Yeine is our narrator, a young Darr woman of color living in a warrior clan of low prestige in this world order. She is far removed from the ruling class, the Arameri, who oversee all of the hundred thousand kingdoms. Though her mother was Arameri, Yeine is deliberately ignored since she is the mixed race product of an Arameri/Darr marriage. To put things in perspective, it’s not out of the ordinary for the Arameri to go full on Targaryen and marry their own siblings. Gross. They’re pretty fucking serious about keeping the bloodline “pure.” Again, gross.
Also important information about the world in which this trilogy is set: there are 3 main gods and many godlings, many of which live amongst humans or at least make the occasional appearance to mortals. The 3 gods ruled together as siblings/lovers (word of caution: you have to accept or at least acknowledge a lot of incest in this series) until the jealous god Itempas killed his sister Enefa and enslaved his brother Nahadoth. Now basically all except Itempas and those godlings who sided with him are enslaved as Arameri servants. It definitely blows to be a god if you’re not even omnipotent.
Anyway, Yeine’s story begins when she is thrust into courtly life as a result of her grandfather, ruler of the Arameri, naming her as one of his heirs. You’ll note she is one of his heirs—the Arameri are pretty fucked up and conduct a Hunger Games-style competition for power until only one heir remains.
So based on all of this, you may have several assumptions about where the plot is going (or at least I did). These assumptions may include: 1. Yeine will bond with her grandfather and finally feel like she has a real family. 2. As a bonus, Yeine will get to know her mother better through heartwarming stories about her. 3. The last heir standing will be Yeine. All of these assumptions are wrong.
What we get instead is a court intrigue DRAMA, filled with conspiracies, betrayals, and straight-faced lies. Yeine also has a serious flirtation going on with the Nightlord himself, Nahadoth. I am basically always going to support a plot involving pursuing a relationship with a dark god because it makes me envision men with a shitload of eyeliner and I’m into that.
Yeine is amazing as a character and narrator, Nahadoth just sounds insanely attractive, and there are a handful of interesting minor characters thrown in too. Jemisin provides extremely apt social commentary and leaves virtually no stone unturned on issues of race, gender, sexuality, religion, and socioeconomic status. I loved this one so much I think it could stand on its own (and definitely recommend reading it).
5/5 Pink Panther Heads