“The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit, 2010)

A Hundred Thousand Kingdomsstarstarstarstar

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is N. K. Jemisin’s debut novel and the first in her Inheritance trilogy.  The book features strong, compelling, fully-developed characters in a grand and complex world, but Jemisin keeps the stage small in this book, introducing the readers to a number of main characters and some of the world, while clearly indicating that there is a lot more to be told.

From the barbarian north, Yeine Darr is outcast and would like nothing more than to live an ordinary, normal, quiet life; but when her mother dies from mysterious circumstances, and she finds herself summoned by the Arameri patriarch (her grandfather) to the spectacular capital city of Sky, she knows normalcy is something she will never be able to have.  Dakarta, her grandfather, has proclaimed her an heir to their throne, though she is pitted against two cousins who want the throne much more than she, and will stop at nothing to get it.  She doesn’t expect to survive the week.

But as Yeine gets to know the people of Sky in her run for the throne she discovers it is a place that is anything but ordinary.  The gods are now forced to live in the beautiful city, as servants, due to losing an ancient war.  Yeine makes friends and allies, but also enemies in this political concoction, and will need to use her strengths as a woman as well as her status if she is to make it through.  While the ending leaves the reader somewhat unsatisfied after the heavy buildup, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a great new voice in fantasy fiction that reveals a new and different world, with some fresh fascinating characters.

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Originally written on May 4 2010 ©Alex C. Telander