Zach's Reviews > The Broken Kingdoms

The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
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's review
Jan 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read from January 17 to February 04, 2012

The second of Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy, following The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. As you would expect with a title like “The Broken Kingdoms,” this book is about one woman’s struggle over a few days (Joy insists that it was actually weeks but even so MY POINT REMAINS) to stop the murder of "godlings" in one particular city. Of course, 100kK actually involved or took place in like one and a half kingdoms, so...

Like the first book, this was the story of a young woman (slightly less young) transplanted into a hostile-ish new city (slightly less hostile) where she allies herself (if you know what I mean) with a local man/"godling" (something about that word really rubs me the wrong way) while having an antagonistic relationship with a god that gives way to something less antagonistic (if you know what I mean). The protagonist in this one is 92% more blind, and 100% more artist/less princess.*

You see what I’m getting at here - this takes place a decade after the first book and features, for the most part, an entirely new cast of characters and feels almost like a reinterpretation of the general outlines of the preceding volume, but it really was leaps and bounds better. Things actually happen in this one, whereas the first book was mostly people talking about things happening or not happening. Jemisin’s is a fantasy world in which race and gender matter, for a change, and not in problematic ways, but I’d still like to see a bit more depth in her history and culture and critique of fantastical stratification. This shallowness means these books are easy-to-read page turners, but they could have a lot more weight to them - although, again, this was such a step forward that I still have hope that Jemisin will really deliver in one of her later book (but, given the adoration these books seem to be receiving, it’s not really like she has much motivation to change things up in order to cater to grumps like me).

The romance was less front and center, fortunately, and also much less cringe-worthy this time. Our narrator starts this work with one pre-established relationship, which works and is convincing, and ends it in another that is neither of those things. Make of that what you will.

Like I’ve said before, it’s easy to write about books you love, and even easier to write about books you hate, but the others...


* 92% because she can see magic, which includes both her own paintings and the “godlings,” although the fact that she described these things she could “see” exactly the same way she described everything else (which is exactly the same way a sighted person would describe said things) was a bit unconvincing, to put it mildly.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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ambyr I look forward to your review of book 3.

Zach yeah, we'll see about that one. sieh is not as interesting a character as jemisin thinks he is.

ambyr It, uh, would probably be fair to say that I'm looking forward to it because I think it will be amusing, not because I think it will be positive. Though it could surprise me!

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