Hirondelle's Reviews > The Kingdom of Gods

The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin
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Nov 19, 2010

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bookshelves: fantasy
Read in October, 2011

I liked it. I enjoyed it. But not wholeheartedly. I had problems with this book, sort of the same problems I had with the whole series but crystallized more obviously in this last volume. I am going to try to explain it (and most likely fail at making any sense. But in case you really want to know what I thought of this here goes)

This series is all about major Gods (universe defining Gods), godlings and other assorted magical creatures interacting with humans in a particular universe. It´s a major concept. It´s epic fantasy (nitpicking: though not quite what we usually mean when we talk of "epic fantasy" likequests, medieval-tech world, dragons, etc. But it is very very epic if you take epic literally). In the whole series, how the characters feel about each other (love, hate, jealousy, sex or its equivalent) is important plotwise. The gods´ motivations are often feelings like jealousy and love. This makes it easy to relate for some (like me. I love angsty emotional stuff), while at the same time it might be at the root of some controversy in reactions to this series.

I usually have a problem with plots when characters are much too powerful like Gods. Sandman works for me but that is the exception rather than the rule. It´s hard (for me) to relate to a suprahuman divine force as if it were a real human character. It´s not. Human concerns in a suprahuman entity can make it seem petty, or constrained or just unlikely. And as side note, I also have problems, when divine billions of years old forces have defining changes happening on screen so to speak. It should make the plot of anything where that happens very special, but instead it just wakes disbelief in me.

The whole series uses this concept, particularly that within the plot of the series, Gods make universe changes, motivated by feelings (romantic, sexual of a kind) for other Gods and a few assorted humans. I admit, the whole concept is IMO difficult to do in a way that totally convinces me - and it did not totally convince me. In the first two books our main PoVS are not divine or totally aware of divine epic forces around them or their role, and I found that much easier to relate to. On this third and final (?) book, our narrator is Sieh, oldest of the godlings. His PoV was often delicious but my disbelief suspension was not at all smooth. And there are other issues - main mystery was telegraphed in advance, some things seem just unlikely (Gods as powerless as humans wringing hands in distress, humans with unbelievable power and knowledge all acquired off screen), and it is just a bit too full of angst and melodrama for my taste. Mind you, angst and melodrama are particular addictions of mine, but here there was just a bit too much of it all the time. I did enjoy this, just with reservations. And I recommend it, particularly if you are not likely to have the same issues (gods as main characters, lots of focus on love as changing the universe literally, angst and melodrama) as I did.

Some random notes:
- the second book, The Broken Kingdoms has a sort of inclusive (euphemism) ending. There is a bonus standalone story here which essential resolves that, I can see while it could not be published before book 3, but still, Broken Kingdoms is IMO not complete without the short story here.
- I read this as each book was published, with intervals between the books and it was a problem to remember all details in between books. This is much better read in one go, IMO.
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Reading Progress

10/14/2011 page 300
51.0% "The plot secret is not going *that* obvious is it? *sigh* yeah I think it might." 1 comment
11/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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Nymn Hi Hirondelle! :). I'm just reading a downloaded e-book version and I was wondering if you've seen the glossary pages. I'm pretty sure the 'graffiti' is the author's original work and not some random reader doing that but I wanted to double check.

Hirondelle graffiti? what graffiti?

Nymn Okay...so maybe it wasn't the author's original work and some annoying person messed around with it. Have you the copy with you? If you double check the glossary pages at the end with all the different terms used in the book. It's probably just my copy only but someone's crossed off and doodled all over those pages. Things like, under the name of Itempas, having the 'heavens' bit crossed out and doodled over with 'ass' and writing 'I hate u' all over it. I thought it was the author's joke, as if Sieh was doing it. So you definitely don't have that? It must be a random reader then.

Hirondelle Ah, yes. I got the UK Orbit edition, the glossary is 6 pages and you got scribbles, childish ones, obviously Sieh´s (an entry for En for example) just on the first 3 pages. it stops sort of abruptly and no scribbles on the last 3 pages of glossary (glossary which sort of failed me, the one name I went to check was Shinda which is not included).

Nymn haha. Okay, it definitely is the book then! cool. :)

Hirondelle wait, I will show you a really bad pic of how it looks

Mind you, it is just the first 3 pages of glossary.

message 7: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Ha!

Nymn I know, I have it. I downloaded it online which was why I was double checking it's the book and not some random person doodling. lol.

message 9: by Hirondelle (last edited Oct 19, 2011 09:44AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hirondelle It´s perfectly on-character for Sieh, Miriam :)

Kaion Great detailed review! I'm sad this series doesn't seem to live up to its potential (Sieh was even my favorite part of the 1st book). I still better get on the second book sooner than later from what it sounds like though about remembering plot details.

Hirondelle It´s still an interesting series - and I think it is a great truly epic take on doing epic fantasy which is quite unlike anything else called epic fantasy. And I like that she puts emotional stuff on her books, sometimes sf and fantasy can be much too dry without it. It´s just that this last novel felt out of balance to me. But still worth reading, I think.

Ah, one thing, be sure when you read the second volume to know if you have acess to the extra short story at the end of the third volume (I think its title is called Not the End), the ending of the second volume needs that extra short story, which is actually set after the end of the third volume.

message 12: by Nymn (last edited Oct 19, 2011 03:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nymn I actually disagree in that I liked how the second book ended. It feels right, that is exactly how a god would act and I like how the classic ending just stays on your mind. It is just not epic and will be a little too run of the mill otherwise. I think that's why the author did it too. I just think you wouldn't get the epic feeling if you knew what happened right after. I actually highly recommend not reading the short story until you finish reading the end of the 3rd book or waiting at least a short while after reading the 2nd. In fact, just the knowledge now of that the short story exists and the knowledge that it gives closure to the 2nd book will spoil it for many readers in my opinion.

It would be like...I guess reading a story of a Greek myth (and you know how many of them don't really have an ending) but before reading the story, you found out that if you read another book, you'll know how it ended even though the first story was supposed to leave you with this open end that would have been mystical, powerful, confusing, mysterious and never ending...because they're gods obviously and it may have never ended but to know that there is an ending, before experiencing all that, has the experience loose most of the power. :(

I wonder if people can understand what I'm trying to say. lol.

Btw, haven't finished the last book yet. I'm the middle of three others as well but I still seriously love this series. I guess the main thing is that the story's original and even with all it's flaws, I haven't seen any other book with this sort of line of direction or style. Most of them are horribly written romance type books like the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop that's the closest I think that comes to this story.

Anyway, eventhough this isn't the direction I wanted Sieh's story to go, I'll still give it 5 stars for the originality and how god romance stories should really by written.

message 13: by Hirondelle (last edited Oct 21, 2011 09:44AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hirondelle Hmm, I think it was Orson Welles which said that a happy ending of course depends on when you stop your story. Same applies to an unhappy ending, or (and this is my point) an inconclusive ending. There will be some conclusion at some poiny, and I thought (this is spoilers for THE SECOND BOOK, the Broken Kingdoms)(view spoiler) (though if you can get spoilered for the ending of the second book, what on earth are you doing reading a review for the third book?).

And gosh, I did not know there were many god romances! Somebody was asking about it on recommendations requests the other day and I could think of too many suggestions though. (and sorry to be contrary, but while I agree this is a romance, I do not think it good as a god romance. Though maybe a good god romance might be impossible by my standards)

message 14: by Gaiana (new)

Gaiana what is the name of the short story that you guys have mentioned that supposedly cleans up loose ends with the second book?

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