Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
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's review
Jul 15, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, fantasy, favourite
Read in January, 2011

I read this book back at the beginning of January, but I'm so behind on writing reviews I've only now got to it - as a result, most of what I want to say I've forgotten and all I can do is gush, because my sheer unadulterated enjoyment of the novel is the strongest remaining impression with me. :)

Yeine ("YAY-neh") Darr, a minor noblewoman, is from High North, one of the "barbaric" northern lands. A descendent of the royal line, she is too minor and insignificant to be a problem to anyone - or so she hoped. Her grandfather, the king of of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, summons her to Sky, the royal palace suspended high above the land on a slender column and with the grace of the One God. Once there, she is named an heir - to compete against her two cousins, doomed to fail - and becomes embroiled in the plotting of the trapped gods that live in the palace.

This was exactly what I needed when I read it, and could easily become a comfort novel for me - the writing style has that ease and smoothness, that lightness, the fast pace and romantic thread that I sink into so easily (when the plot engages me, anyway). I loved Yeine, I loved the setting, the world-building, the complex structure of gods and power, and I loved Naha - the god Nahadoth, the first god, now a slave in the palace. He may have been an obvious character but I simply didn't care: for me, he worked. He clicked. He made sense. He was alien enough to be utterly believable, and the way Yeine saw him ... let's just say that I too became a sucker for his tortured soul (if gods have souls, but you know what I mean).

Like all Fantasy, it is easy to draw parallels between the fantastic world and our own; Fantasy helps us see our own world, our culture especially, fresh and often with new insight - if done well. Here, I was surprised at how quickly and eagerly I fell into the drama of the story: the squabbling, scheming, often petty gods, too powerful for their own good; and the scheming, manipulative, too-powerful Arameri (the royal family). I'm not generally a fan of drama, being too easily bored by it, but this was extremely tasty and left me barely satisfied. It's all quite simple, and that perhaps is what made it so successful for me. The insular world, the uncluttered writing, the characters drawn with sparse, brief strokes - you can never predict what will work for you, and sometimes you can't even pin down why it worked when others of a similar nature just don't. In a way, I found it nostalgic, reminding me of favourite books from my teen days like Polymer, or favourite authors like Isobelle Carmody.

I found it a hard book to put down (I read it in a day), and an easy and entertaining read; I loved how it was written, and Yeine's voice, and felt bereft when it ended. I immediately ordered the second book but part of me is holding off on reading it, either afraid the second book won't grip me like the first did, or of not wanting to glut on a yummy thing too soon afterwards. Though, it has been three months...
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02/26 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Muse (new)

Muse Here I love that review. I'm totally ordering this book. Thanks for rec.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) Muse wrote: "I love that review. I'm totally ordering this book. Thanks for rec."

Hope you like it as much as I did Muse! People have gone either way on this one :)

message 3: by Micki (new)

Micki Thx for this review. I'm gonna try it.

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