Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemison

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemison
(Inheritance Trilogy #1) 
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 398
Publication Date: February 2010
Publisher: Orbit Books
Source: Paperback Swap
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Description (from the publisher):
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.

This is a book that has been on my TBR for a while, and now I'm kicking myself for not bumping it up to the top of my TBR sooner! Seriously, guys, this book was fantastic and will be one of the books that makes my list of favorite reads for 2011. I liked the setting, the characters, the politics, the suspense--all get high marks from me.

I found the setting of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms to be interesting and nuanced - there were treacherous politics going on not only in the human world but also among the gods. The Arameri, the family that rules the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms from their capitol in Sky, are people that you love to hate. They are in power mainly because they are favored by Bright Itempas, the god in power who has enslaved the remaining of the three gods and their children to the Arameri. So the Arameri have powerful slaves that help keep them in power, and their vicious nature and willingness to use and discard anyone for their own benefit is helpful in keeping them in power as well.

This setting understandably has a lot of backstabbing and political maneuvering going on, and when our main character Yeine arrives on the scene, she has a lot to adjust to. Her mother, daughter of the king, left Sky and married a man in Darr. After her death, Yeine is named a possible heir to the throne. But she doesn't really want the job, and she has to compete with her cutthroat and dangerous cousins as well.

And then there are the gods, who seem strangely interested in Yeine. The story of the gods and their falling out was fascinating and provided a crucial side-story to the novel that would tie into Yeine's story in a big way. The complicated and emotional relationships of the three main gods (Itempas, Enefa and Nahadoth) with each other and with their children were touching, confusing, and mind-blowing. The richness of the mythology was a big positive aspect of this story.

I really liked how the truth about Yeine's role and her connection to the gods was unveiled--it happened gradually but not too slowly and I never was able to anticipate what the next twist in her story would be. I think the beginning dragged a little bit as I puzzled over what would happen, but by the end I could not put the book down. I was literally blown away by the ending and when I finished the last page I had the urge to set the book down and give it a standing ovation. I can't say enough about how great this was (it definitely was the high point of my fantasy reading this summer), and I highly recommend it to fantasy fans.

Related Linkage:
Reading Challenges: POC Challenge, Speculative Fiction Challenge, 1st in a Series Challenge


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