02. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Publication: Orbit (February 25, 2010), ebook, 544kb / ISBN ? (the ebook doesn’t have one?)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Rating: Buy it!
Read: January 9, 2011
Read for The Women of Fantasy Book Club
Summary from Amazon:
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 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.
I’ve written and rewritten this review three times now, and I’m getting really sick of it. So this review is now going going to be short, to the point, and AWESOME.
It’s always good to start on a positive note, right?
So: I loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I love the writing, the themes, how it doesn’t gloss over important issues that pop up in the relationship between humans and gods or humans and humans. I like the action, the intrigue, the characters, the setting. I loved the language, especially in the parts that tell stories about the mythology of the world in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I had a great time reading this book, and I can’t recommend it enough to you people.
More detail? Okay. I loved Yeine. She’s such a great female protagonist: she’s strong, intelligent, and feisty. And she’s all that without falling into the stereotypical action girl thing! I liked that she had faults (self-doubt!) and that she wasn’t always sure what she should do in a situation, but that she didn’t let that stop her from helping people (or gods) when they needed help.
The secondary characters were just as flawed and wonderful as Yeine was, although some of them didn’t get nearly as much screentime as they needed to have, I think. One character in particular, who committed a betrayal later on in the story, barely even showed up for two second before that. It did make the betrayal less effective, and so the punishment for the betrayal then seemed unimportant (except, I suppose, for the fact of who DID the punishment, and how. I think that part was important. Sorry I can’t go more into detail! This keeping away from spoilers thing is annoying sometimes).
I also really liked the world setting! The mythology was really interesting, even more so because the connection between gods and humans was even more pronounced than you might find in other religions– it sort of reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, in the part where gods affects humans but also humans control whether gods live or die. I did wish that the actual world had been more fully fleshed out; we only really get to see one section in detail of what I assume is a huge world (100,000 kingdoms, right? Or am I misunderstanding that?), and I really wanted to know more of what the world looked like.
If you’d like a fantasy novel with a strong heroine, a great world setting, and with lots of stuff to say, you couldn’t go wrong with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It does have romance, and the romance is central to the story, but it’s not mushy and, er, stupid? Like some other fantasy romances. It’s actually kind of sweet, and you know it’s a good kind of romance if I can say that!
Author photo lifted from her website. It’s a really neat website, too! I’m just now getting into her posts about the world of HTK– they’re interesting as hell.