Kay's Reviews > The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
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Aug 25, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, gods-and-beasts, quite-the-romantic
Recommended for: the divine cast of hercules & xena
Read from April 02 to 04, 2012 , read count: 1

Dreamy prose and an even dreamier plot.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms refers to the collective world, governed by the god-favored Arameri clan. After the death of the exiled Arameri heir, the head of the Arameri clan names his granddaughter Yeine heir to the entire Hundred Thousand Kingdoms...along with two other Arameri contestants. When Yeine enters Sky, the Arameri castle suspended in the air by an impossibly thin column of rock, she must pit herself against her two deadly competitors while also negotiating with ancient, volatile gods that roam the castle halls, imprisoned in their mortal shells.

First off, this is how a book about gods should be written. After a war amongst the three "founding" gods, the one victorious god punished the others by imprisoning them in mortal bodies and binding their existence to the Arameri. These imprisoned gods were made subject to the commands of their Arameri masters, and for the past centuries, the Arameri called upon the gods' awesome power to subjugate their enemies and establish their dominance over the world. In light of this, the author does a fantastic job humanizing the gods while maintaining their otherworldly alienness. The child god Sieh was especially well written. The author elegantly resolves the paradox of an infinitely old god with a child's mindset.

However, perhaps because the focus of the novel was on the myth- and world-building, the plot seemed sluggish. If you're expecting political intrigue or power plays, you'll be disappointed. Perhaps it's because we join at the near end of things, but the two other competitors are already established figures and the other Arameri seem hopelessly docile to their whims.

Also, Yeine does not expectedly overthrow the status quo. Yeine, when we meet her, seems to be placed in an impossible situation. Does she claw her way out through wiles and daring? She tries a little initially, but the answer is a resounding I WISH THAT WERE THE CASE. Yeine is no coward and has a good head on her shoulders, but some of her actions to win over supporters or protect her interests were quite juvenile. Given her lack of preparation, it's understandable, but I wish she took more part in the events around her instead of just watching and having things fall into her lap. Everything just kind of...resolves itself, like a package wrapped in glitzy paper and tied together by a bow, and Yeine is there to pull on the ribbon.

Therefore, I settled on 3 STARS for this book. 5 stars for top-notch creation myth-building and an incredibly refreshing outlook on gods, 2 stars on the static plot and main character, and 2 stars for the writing. The prose wasn't bad...it was quite beautiful at times, actually. But I was not a huge fan of the pseudo stream-of-consciousness style interruptions to the story.

Recommended for fans of fantasy, especially fantasy dealing with the divine, but in my opinion, there is little in the way of character (with the notable exception of Sieh).
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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mark monday nice review Kay! sounds like Sieh was your favorite character. mine too.


message 2: by Kay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kay Sieh was a definite winner. Are you thinking of reading the next two books?


mark monday yeah, eventually. i enjoyed this one, but the minor note feeling to it all hasn't gotten me really enthused about getting immediately to the rest of the series. and you?


message 4: by Kay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kay Same as you. I want to look through the second one at least to see if the narrative style is different and/or the characters are more fleshed out. There was something very off to me about the...flowy-ness of the writing.

But, as you said, I'll get to it eventually. =)


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