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Inheritance Trilogy #1

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

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Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

427 pages, Paperback

First published February 25, 2010

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About the author

N.K. Jemisin

119 books53k followers
N. K. Jemisin lives and works in New York City.

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5 stars
21,088 (30%)
4 stars
27,180 (39%)
3 stars
15,338 (22%)
2 stars
4,245 (6%)
1 star
1,584 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,105 reviews
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 321 books399k followers
August 24, 2015
I picked up this book after reading a thought-provoking article about the author in The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015.... I really liked what she said about coming to fantasy with no interest in maintaining the status quo. She's right that so many fantasy books are about restoring order to a kingdom, returning a rightful heir to the throne, or getting back to the good old days by defeating some dark power that threatens to unbalance society. Jemisin, as an African American female writer, says this simply doesn't resonate with her or interest her, and why should it? Instead, she writes science fiction which challenges those in power, threatens the ordered society, and questions whether the good old days ever existed. I like books that force me to rethink paradigms, so I decided to check out her work.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a wonderful read. The first book of a trilogy, it introduces us to Yeine Darr, an outcast from the ruling family of Sky and the product of an unsanctioned biracial marriage, who is summoned home to the palace and suddenly made one of three heirs to the throne for reasons unclear. Soon she is locked in a cold war with her two cousins, both of whom have much more power and understanding of politics. But Yeine gains some powerful if unstable allies: the Enefadah, gods who were enslaved by the ruling family after those deities lost a war against the Lord of Light, the patron god of Sky.

You know me. I can't resist a good book with gods knocking around, causing chaos among mortals. I loved the mythology Jemisin created, and how she turned the bright shiny castle with the glorious white king and the heavenly patron god into just about the most horrible place you can image. I'm looking forward to the next two books, though after that ending (NO SPOILERS, BUT WOW) I have no idea where she will go with the story!
Profile Image for N.K. Jemisin.
Author 119 books53k followers
Read
January 30, 2010
Just got the ARCs. Reading for typos and errors, and also for the thrill of READING MY BOOK YAY WHOA.
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 65 books231k followers
March 21, 2011
Very much enjoyed it. I have a great love of fantasy that does something a little different, and this book is a little different in a whole lot of ways.

Good book. Recommended.
Profile Image for Vinaya.
185 reviews2,075 followers
June 14, 2011
I think I may have read too much fantasy.

I'm always apprehensive when I read a book everyone loved and can't get worked up about it. I was expecting this book to be radical and innovative and unusual. It wasn't.

You've read this before.
You're too harsh.
This writing style-

**********

Makes no narrative sense.

Seriously, what is it about this book I'm missing? What makes it worthy of being a Hugo and Nebula nominee? The choppy writing style felt weird to me- not because I didn't understand the transitions in time, but because there was no need for it. It felt more gimmicky than real.

The plot line was standard, standard, standard. Orphaned warrior girl is thrust into the midst of a political war and named heir to her grandfather's kingdom, whereupon she falls in love with a god and finds out deep, dark secrets about herself.

You want to know who wrote this plotline better? Trudi Canavan, that's who. Her Priestess of the White and the following books in the Age of the Five trilogy are teeming with gods and goddesses and deceit and political intrigue and romance and war and betrayal and life. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a pale approximation of Canavan's vivid worldbuilding. Seriously, Australian authors kick ass, every time.

The worldbuilding in this book was lacklustre. So many things were never explained; so many rules were pointless and unworkable. I never felt a strong connection with Yeine- so much of her time was spent wandering around aimlessly and hoping to bump into someone who would drop the information onto her lap. All the things we were told in the beginning- that she was a warrior, that she was the competent ruler of an entire nation, that she was trained by her mother in Amn ways... none of these things are actually reflected in her actions.

And my other big pet peeve was with the whole sex scene. Seriously, all I got were weird allusions that weren't remotely moving or sexy. Mostly, I was going, WTF?!!! If sex with Nahadoth hadn't been built up to be such a big deal, I could have dealt with the way it was handled; as things stand, though, the description of the scene was florid and overblown and unconvincing.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't HATE the book. It was interesting enough to have me reading till the end, but I know what good fantasy reads like, and to me, this book comes a poor second to the vibrant writing of authors like Trudi Canavan and Jennifer Fallon and even Melina Marchetta. Hmmm... they're all Australian, too!
Profile Image for carol..
1,516 reviews7,715 followers
May 20, 2012
I've just realized I'm about to give two entirely different books the exact same rating for entirely different reasons. Somehow, that is profoundly unsatisfying to my bookish need to categorize. I need a GR ratings intervention.

Something about "The Hundred" fails to digest well. Falling back on my inevitable food analogies, it felt like all those ingredients I love were there--sugar, flour, butter, vanilla, chocolate--but scrambled, fried and decorated into a concoction I wanted to love but just couldn't.

The positives: First and foremost, themes dealt with issues of slavery, servitude, class status and divinity in a very unusual but thoughtful way. It avoided preaching, instead showing how even powerful personalities devolved and struggled under subjugation. Two, information sharing was done tolerably well and did not suffer from the common fantasy 'info-dump' syndrome. As Yeine, the narrator, is new to the city of Sky and her Arameri relatives, the process of orienting her orients the reader. Three, the author also makes a point of giving characters unconventional, multi-ethnic looks and backgrounds, including a female lead who is "short, brown and flat, with unruly curly hair." It's always a positive to see something beyond the tall/leggy or curvaceous stereotypes, and to see women capable of playing multiple roles within a book that are not dependent on sexuality. Lastly, at times Jemisin's language impressed me: "This was the sort of thing that made people hate the Arameri--truly hate them, not just resent their power or their willingness to use it. They found so many ways to lie about the things they did. It mocked the suffering of their victims."

Where Jemisin failed to turn the ingredients into deliciousness: First, it felt 'young adult' in tone; though the narrator was supposed to be 19 and heir/ruler to her tribes' lands, she acts and responds in surprisingly naive and young ways at times. She loses her temper with people she's just met. She's preoccupied with finding out what her mother was "really" like. (By the time we are three-fourths through the book, I started to flash on the children's book Are You My Mother?). She's uncomfortable with sex and refers to a pool being for "...other things." Her youth was unexpected, and perhaps started me off on the wrong foot as I was anticipating a more mature character. Second, while I appreciate the unconventionality of the female lead's looks, one of the males, Nahadoth, is immediately described as "beautiful." Oh, for young-adult romance stereotypes of the plain girl and the hot unattainable male! Of course he chases her with violent intent shortly after meeting, and of course, he kisses her shortly after they confront each other. Dark, misunderstood, and isolated male just needs to be loved to change.

That's like burning the dessert right there.

Three, there's excessive use of portentous statements. My feeling is that if one has to rely on such statements as "it would occur to me shortly thereafter..." and "later I would understand that..." you are either not doing your job writing, or you are writing one seriously convoluted narrative. Lastly, and this is definitely a style choice, this story felt mythic, as in constructed like Greek myths, with relatively clear plotting with relatively clear motives implemented in an elaborately convoluted way. It was saved from excessive simplicity by the narrative voice shifting between time periods (although we don't know this at the time), oral histories, and dream-states. It lent padding, but not in the right spots. Almost lastly, it also had weird and uncomfortably sexual overtones with Yeine and a demi-god who regularly appeared in child-form and was sexually abused by her family members. Oh, lastly again, and this time I mean it, I really hate paranormal sex scenes, especially the bed-destroying type. (Prolonged eye-roll). Spare me the youthful expectations and descriptions of metaphysical sex that ends the old self and births the new, and destroys the furniture in the process.

How to rate, how to rate? Two and a half to three stars on the personal enjoyment scale. Four stars for dealing with slavery, an unusual religious set-up and language use some of the time. Three for a moderately unsurprising ending that wrapped things up well . Two for including an eye-rolling sex scene, the bad-boy lover, and language use the rest of the time.

Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 28 books128k followers
May 27, 2011
Well, I really loved this book. Not since I've read Jaqueline Carey's Kushiel series have I been as enamored, in fact they are very evocative of each other, these series.

I had no expectations of this book, in fact I've had an ARC copy by my bed for like a year and a half, and for some reason couldn't get myself to pick it up. I think the cover implies a more epic fantasy feel than it is, really it would appeal to most female-driven urban fantasy fans, but again, i guess it's smart not to slap a pretty girl on the cover and restrict yourself to just a female audience. Everyone can enjoy this book, the romantic arc is subtle and not cliched-ly prominent.

But basically, this is a lovely fantasy with a strong female protagonist. Yes, she doesn't remain assertive and plot-driving as she should, and really that should have taken a star off, but the contemplative nature of the world-building, and layered motivations and mysteries involving the ensemble overcame that for me. I really felt like it was smart and avoided cliches. And I was totally hooked when the ending paid off SO WELL!

Other series this is similar to are Sharon Shinn's Archangel series and Garth Nix's Sabriel.

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Baba.
3,530 reviews788 followers
January 1, 2023
The Inheritance Trilogy book 1: After the suspicious death of her mother, Yeine from the 'barbarian' North, is summoned to the majestic capital of the Kingdoms and is shocked to see captive godlings living amongst the ruling family, and even more shocked when she is told that she is now a possible heir to the King! With her likely imminent death if not chosen as heir, Yeine decides to investigate her mother's death which sees her get caught up in the court conspiracies, plots and politics, as the longer she stays the more she questions who the real monsters are, the captive godlings or the ruling family, the Arameri?

Jemisin's debut novel is brimming with quality reality building; a reality with its own history, beliefs, political structures, magic, supernatural beings and more, I know many writers have attempted the same but nowhere near as well as Jemisin. There's the added bonus of having the leading female character be a Black woman, in genre that is surprisingly lacking in diversity of character leads. The rub, is that I am rapidly tiring of the fantasy genre, so this might not have been the best time to read this one, but I still give it an 8 out of 12, Four Stars.

2022 read
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,633 reviews5,001 followers
September 11, 2012
a pleasingly old-fashioned fantasy - and by old-fashioned, i mean the opposite of the dense, complicated, multiple perspective, incredibly epic mega-fantasies that have had the most popularity over the past couple decades. this is something different. the language is straightforward, for the most part, and certainly beautiful at times. although the mystery is a complicated one, and deals with rather large issues such as the making and unmaking of an entire world, it still feels somehow 'miniature'. for the most part it takes place within one setting: the fabulous floating city of Sky. it also deals with gods who are enslaved to mortals. and yet there is an almost underpopulated feeling to it - we get to know only a handful of Sky's denizens and only a handful of gods are introduced. at times, it felt like i was reading an adult fairy tale or a lengthy fable. despite a couple sex scenes, a couple graphic bits of violence, even intimations of rape and molestation, the novel somehow felt... quaint. and this is not a complaint. the novel was refreshing.

i really liked the heroine: brave, sardonic, and no-nonsense. i also enjoyed the gods, especially child-god Sieh. loveable and strange little Sieh! a great character. many times when i've read about gods (similar to reading about aliens in scifi), i feel these are actually humans with unusual abilities - they talk and act and respond like humans. not so with Sieh, nor with the other gods. that is a true accomplishment.

the mythology was complex in a way, but as with the best myths, there was also a simplicity there. the mythology was genuinely mythic, a far cry from the dungeons & dragons style of mythology that i've seen in many other novels. not many stereotypically human motivations appear when the actions of the various gods are described.

overall it felt dreamy and arty and, somehow, minor note... and yet it is the first part of a trilogy describing the beginning and the ending and the renewal of all things.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews803 followers
November 19, 2017
If this is meant to be your first Jemisin book, go away. No, seriously, off you go. Read her masterpiece and only then come back for more. I am writing this thinking that should The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms happened to be my first encounter with Jemisin's writing, it would have taken a long time to approach her again (if at all). But the reversed order allowed me to see how much she matured and developed as a writer and I admire her for this even more.

The plot is simple: a young woman is summoned to be officially recognised as an heir to her Grandfather, a de facto ruler of the world, who had previously disowned her mother due to a mesalliance. When she comes to the seat of power called Sky, she discovers not only the truth behind her mother's murder but also the fact that she is a pawn in a more sinister game between the people and the gods.

The plot shows Jemisin "obsession themes", themes that she mastered in Broken Earth but only started playing within the Inheritance series. Admittedly, at times the book is a very clumsy playground.

First is her obsession with systems of power. The kingdoms are governed by something that could be called an authoritarian monarchy or perhaps a monarchist theocracy; the power is in the hands of one family called Arameri, and the status of each person within the family depends on blood (full, half, quarter and so on). Needless to say, Jemisin is a staunch believer that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and vividly describes it in the book. We have exploitation, corruption, injustice, and institutionalised suffering including slavery, murders, pedophilia, and cannibalism performed in the full blare of authority. Welcome to the underbelly of humanity. On the other edge of the spectrum, there is a just matriarchy of the protagonist's indigenous nation, but I really had to laugh at the naivety and purely utopian quality of certain socio-political concepts (e.g. female superiority in the military). Truly, biology wins over ideology also in a fantasy setting.

Secondly, the theme of race permeates Jemisin's writing. On the surface, it is not surprising given that the world is called the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. But even then it is a bit too much for my tastes. Characters are constantly described and referred to via racial identity markers. Imagine something like: "Asian eyes shone brightly in her pale Caucasian face although the unruly mess of her curls whispered of African ancestry. Only her smile remained Nordic in its coldness." Imagine something like that every second paragraph. I found this style tiring and I think I would find it unacceptable in contemporary fiction.

Thirdly, Jemisin's writing is very sensuous. She does not shy away from all things body related. There is plenty of sexual references in her prose albeit not in a tacky Sarah J. Maas' way. This is fine (even if this pretends to be YA). What really bothers me is the way in which Jemisin explores threesomes. No, not love triangles, i.e. one of the most abused themes in literature, but polyamorous and transgender aspects of sexuality. I considered it ingenious in The Fifth Season where she truly created something new, instead of regurgitating offshoots of our mundane civilisations and moralities. However, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is basically a Greek Parthenon meeting the Christian Trinity with so many plotholes in the size of a maelstrom, that I huffed in exasperation very frequently.

Finally, be warned that the plot is slow (Yeine comes to the Sky, wanders around, gallivants with gods, talk to few people, sleeps occasionally and weeps at times, discovers the truth and then proceeds to the grand finale), the narrative confusing and jerky (first person retrospective interspersed with short passages from outside the main current of the story), and the heroine problematic (a special snowflake alert). At least I had problems with warming up for her. Overall, a solid 3 stars, mainly for the rich texture of the world and a captivating intrigue. And also for Sieh.

PS And if you liked Sieh, you need to try City of Miracles, a book of superior quality in every aspect imaginable.

Also in the series:

2. The Broken Kingdoms
3. The Kingdom of Gods
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
September 26, 2015
I am and always will be a huge fan of Godpunk fiction.

There's a bit of it floating around out there, but most of it is hidden behind the cloudy minds and bodies of mere mortals, only occasionally poking its bright sunny head out to dazzle and amaze.

Sometimes it's the sun. Sometimes it's not. At the moment, I'm feeling the blaze.

Fortunately for us, we've also got authors with great and deep understanding of the greater and lesser mysteries, the writing chops to pull off an entirely new mythos that can turn those mysteries into something brand new again, even if they've been so very, very old. Jemisin has taken us right back to our very beginnings, with the worship of the sun and the void and the great life goddess and given us a truly fantastic tale of revenge, freedom, and most importantly, of love.

I sit in awe. I've been fortunate to read a number of really fantastic novels recently, and this one stands tall and proud among them, like a worldtree within a shining forest of worlds.

The opening of the novel was unfortunately the weakest part for me, but I was able to feel our heroine's hopeless plight pretty much right away, enjoying her progression of defiance to acceptance as it all became so clear that her life was forfeit no matter what happened. Did I say enjoy? Actually, that part made me squirm quite a bit, but the fact that she was able to come to grips, retain her sanity, and even lose a little more of it in the process, was, in fact, truly enjoyable. I can't believe how tight the romance was, or how cleverly it managed to pull on my heartstrings. (I'm generally not that susceptible to romance on the page. So much of it is unbelievable crap.) In this case, I sank right into it and rooted for them both with all my heart.

After finishing the novel, I can't quite see where else it might go except far away from the characters I've just enjoyed, but I've got the entire omnibus sitting right here. I was very satisfied by the end and truly floored by it. I almost want to leave it be and enjoy everything that this novel will eventually become to me.

Can anything truly top this ride?
Profile Image for Rachel.
25 reviews
July 28, 2014
This was a commendable first effort, but I cannot bring myself to rate it any higher. In view of all the positive reviews it has been receiving, I just expected more from this story, but, no, it fell completely short of expectations.

The writing itself is certainly readable, but when it comes to portraying emotional turmoils, the author opts for "Tell, Don't Show" too often, so some scenes are filled with rather cringe-worthy descriptions of how a character "feels". The author might have been going for sensual, but because the writing lacks natural lyricism, it ends up seem forced than anything else. The world-building begins somewhat promisingly, but the exploration of that world ends up being more cursory than in-depth. The palace intrigues, also, begin with a promise of complex conflicts, but end up quite shallow, and a lot of the said conflicts are resolved via deus ex machina (literally) than through the strength of the nineteen-year-old protagonist.

Not all of these issues are serious flaws (and I suppose things like world-building might occur in later volumes of this trilogy), so I might have enjoyed the story for what it is had the characters been more fully-realized. The protagonist, Yeine, does start off with lots of potential. She comes across as endearing and has strength of conviction and other right elements to become an interesting heroine, but in the end she comes off as a Mary Sue in all the wrong ways, especially when it comes to her romantic entanglements. The secondary characters were also imbued with attention-grabbing and flashy personalities, but none of them came across as truly genuine. I am sure I've read mangas with better character developments - actually, what with the detailed descriptions of characters' physical attributes, I did feel like I was reading manga in parts.

It's possible I would have enjoyed the story better without the high expectation, but now that I have finished reading it, I simply cannot agree with all the glowing reviews. For years I've been reading as much as I could in this genre, so I know exactly what I want from a fantasy novel, and this, unfortunately, isn't it. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Profile Image for mwana .
366 reviews207 followers
July 4, 2022
“Live,” I said. “Why else do you think I put you here?”
Why else? Why else indeed? I have a because... Because, at this point in time, 2:43pm GMT+3 in the year of our lord Beyonce Giselle Knowles C◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️ 2022, I believe I was officially put on this earth to shout about HOW AMAZING THIS BOOK IS.

If I was a booktuber I'd be making indecipherable noises as a gush review. If I was competent bookstagrammer, I'd create an edit that is so epic, it would revolutionize Instagram as we know it. But alas, I am neither. I am just a girl, standing in front of her work computer, begging all the faceless strangers scrolling down their screens who will come across this review, to PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.

Can you tell how much I loved it?! CAN YOU? My god, I think I'm vibrating.

The story starts with our main protagonist Yeine dau she Kinneth tai wer Somem kanna Darre, daughter of Kinneth Arameri, ennu of the Darre people, leader of tribe Somem but before you can parse the significance of Yeine's full name, she informs us that tribes have become insignificant since the Gods' War.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The story doesn't really start there. In this universe, the Big Bang's equivalent is the Maelstrom where the deities Itempas and Nahadoth were created from nothingness. However, even before that, according to this New Yorker article, it all started with a dream vision of two gods. One had dark-as-night hair that contained a starry cosmos of infinite depth; the other, in a child’s body, manipulated planets like toys. From these images, Jemisin spun out a four-hundred-page story about an empire that enslaves its deities.

Yeine is the mixed race daughter of the Darre chief and the former princess of the Arameri, the ruling family of the Amn people. Her mother, Kinneth, dared to defy their caste system and marry a man who is "beneath" her.
My father dared ask my mother to dance; she deigned to consent. I have often wondered what he said and did that night to make her fall in love with him so powerfully, for she eventually abdicated her position to be with him. It is the stuff of great tales, yes? Very romantic. In the tales, such a couple lives happily ever after. The tales do not say what happens when the most powerful family in the world is offended in the process.
Hook me, baby.

Yeine has been summoned by her grandfather, Dekarta, ruler of all mankind. He ignored for her nineteen years but suddenly he wanted her in Sky, the city where the Arameri live, where they have enslaved their gods and the children of these gods.

This book isn't Jemisin's best work. It's even self-aware, Such a convoluted patchwork to piece together. There is a certain amateurishness that's hard to ignore, especially after seeing the excellence of her prose in The City We Became. The world building is sound. The characters solid but there was a certain elusive quality in the delivery. Perhaps this was because the story was in first person with the language a bit simpler than the indulgent decadence of her latest book. I ended up reading some scenes too quickly and felt I had missed something and even upon reread it would elude me such that when a reveal came about I felt that if the prose had been a bit denser, I'd have connected the dots sooner.

The story has three main running cogs. The war of the gods, the mystery behind the death in Yeine's family and why she has been summoned by her grandfather. And while everything was resolved satisfactorily, I still felt I needed more. At no point does the quality of this book suffer but I am a sugar addict and I wanna dance in cake damnit. I needed about three hundred more pages and at least two more perspectives. I needed to linger. However that doesn't matter when you have a lord of darkness who looks like this.

description
Nahadoth by sorskc (DeviantArt)


He is everything my emo self would ever imagine in a god. And he is banging ....here was no human flesh to filter his cool majesty. His eyes glowed blue-black with a million mysteries, terrifying and exquisite. When he smiled, all the world shivered... Shiver ME timbers baby.

Another favourite is the trickster god, Sieh. Imagine the adorableness of Avatar Aang (seriously Sieh moves with globes too) and the deviousness of Loki. Not MCU Loki. Actual Loki. I adored him with everything that I am.

The book does interrogate existence. When Yeine is asked what she wants out of life, she—understandably—whines at her lot in life which is er a lot, Naha scolds her
“You are what your creators and experiences have made you, like every other being in this universe. Accept that and be done; I tire of your whining.”
There is also commentary on class, agency, gender roles, colonization, freedom, free will. What's radical about this book is how it's the gods who are oppressed. The most powerful beings who caused CREATION are the ones subjugated. To undo or reform this level of oppression, a lot has to explode. Bang goes that revolution.

Aside from such grasping and provocative material, this book gave me something I didn't even realise I was missing. Having been in the dumps for what feels like forever, I think I'd forgotten what joy felt like. With everything that is happening in the world, with how miasmic my personal life is, I didn't realise how I'd settled into unhappiness. I'd forgotten to find joy. I still laughed. I still listened to music. I still felt at peace when I sat on my balcony listening for silence between the rain drops to a Norah Jones soundtrack. But I was not joyful. No.

When I started this book, I was on a commute to the city centre to collect a package. My city is one which fills you with rage unfailingly. No matter what happens, you will be angry every time you enter, stay and leave Nairobi. This ugly concrete behemoth seeps bitterness into all. As I waited for my bus to fill up so I could escape the godforsaken beast's belly, I decided to open up Libby on a whim. I don't know what prompted me but I decided to search Jemisin and lo and behold, Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was ready for me to borrow. Ignoring the protests of the rest of my tbr, I acquired the book and got to reading. By the time I was alighting, I was running to the house so I could settle down and continue reading. Whenever life happened, I would wish for it to hasten so I could get back to my book.

It had plenty of moments happened that filled me with so much giddiness. My favourite was when Yeine had an altercation with her cousin, Scimina, who is an heir to Dekarta's throne.
“It will do for now.”
“For now?” Scimina stared at me, incredulous, then began to laugh.
“Oh, Cousin. Sometimes I wish your mother were still alive. She at least could have given me a real challenge.”
I had lost my knife, but I was still Darre. I whipped around and hit her so hard that one of her heeled shoes came off as she sprawled across the floor.
“Probably,” I said, as she blinked away shock and what I hoped was a concussion. “But my mother was civilized.”
I was on my feet after that scene. This book is pure excitement. I haven't had the rush to read the next scene, playing the just one chapter game at bedtime, this pure unadulterated joy—something childlike and inchoate of the pollution of reality—in a long time. And for that, this book gets the most resounding five stars.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.9k followers
February 20, 2011
4.0 to 4.5 stars. I learned something while I was reading this excellent fantasy story by Ms. Jemisin that may seem obvious to most but still has changed my outlook on fantasy stories going forward. You see, I have always been a big fan of interesting world-building, compelling back stories and histories and unique magic systems and fantasy elements. The problem is that as you read more and more fantasy stories you start to recognize variations on all the well trod (and often trampled) ground and so it becomes difficult to find something that appears unique and ground-breaking and thus I have been somewhat selective in the fantasy series I have read and if the world/backstory/fantasy elements don’t have something that really catches my eye, I don’t rush it to the top of my reading list.

With that said….here is what this wonderful book made me realize…. turns out I only THOUGHT that cool background elements were THE KEY components that drew me to read fantasy books. It turns out…and here is where everyone can smack me on the back of the head and say DUH!!!... it turns out that compelling characters and evocative writing and dialogue are the ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS in all of my favorite stories and that the world-building, back stories and fantasy elements are just the SPICE that kick a really good story into the amazing category…BAM!!

As I look at some of my all time favorite fantasy stories, most from very recently, they include: The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie (The Blade Itself, etc.), The Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora, etc.) The Hari Michelson/Over World series by Matthew Stover (Heroes Die, etc.), A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (A Game of Thrones, etc.), The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and my newest addition, the Troy series by David Gemmell (Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow, etc.). As different as all these stories are, they all have the following in common: (1) unforgettable main and supporting characters that draw you to the story and (2) superb, emotionally evocative writing (some poetic, some gritty, some dark and disturbing, some over the top and larger than life, but all of them MAKE YOU FEEL).

Now don’t get me wrong, each of the series I mentioned above do in fact have superb world-building and back stories and that is probably what led to some of my inner confusion regarding what I was looking for in a great fantasy read. But then I had …..an EPHIPHANY. What would happen if STEPHANIE MEYER took over writing the next First Law trilogy from Joe Abercrombie? What if GRRM was unable to finish a Song of Ice and First and TERRY BROOKS was brought in to complete it? Thoughts like these caused me to lose sleep and drink WAY TOO MUCH. It also made me see pretty clearly (through blood shot eyes) that the writing and the character portrayals are what MAKE great fantasy and everything else is just a bonus. Conversely, a clever idea will not save poor writing in the execution of a story.

Okay, having gone on enough about everything other then the book I am reviewing. how about I start including it in this discussion. Well, I THOUGHT THIS BOOK WAS TERRIFIC for all of the reasons that I explained above make fantasy great for me (see, there is a method to my madness). N.K. Jemisin writes beautifully and I was drawn to the main character Yeine immediately as she was smart, strong willed and self confident. Here is a summary of the back story (which I would hasten to add was excellent and very well done) and plot.

BACK STORY/PLOT SUMMARY: In the beginning were 3 gods (for simplicity you can call them Order, Chaos and Balance). Well, by combining elements of Order and Chaos, Balance created the world as we know it and peopled it was humans as well as lesser gods. Eventually, the siblings squabbled and Order killed Balance and imprisoned Chaos (the how and why, I will leave to you to discover). Anyway, the story opens many years after the “god war” and the City of Sky is home to the Arameri who rule “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.” The Arameri were the most devoted servants of the god of Order and so he has given them the power to rule. This power is based on the ability of the Arameri to control and use the imprisoned god of Chaos and the lesser gods to do their bidding. These imprisoned gods (called Enefadah) are fully developed and realized individuals and are the most compelling characters in the story. Well the main character Yeine Darr, whose mother was the chosen successor to rule the Arameri and who instead abdicated and was exiled, is brought back to Sky in order to compete for the role of successor to the current ruler of Arameri (her maternal grandfather) and the intrigue, conspiracies, alliances and betrayals quickly ensue.

So, overall, I found this to be a compelling first novel in what looks to be an intriguing new series. In addition, I will always be thankful to this story for being an effective catalyst in helping me see what it is I am truly looking for in a fantasy story. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
Profile Image for Brent Weeks.
Author 65 books21.2k followers
February 2, 2010
[This review is based on an Advanced Reading Copy:]

What if gods were real…and walked among us…enslaved…and were used as weapons…and were really pissed off about it?

N.K. Jemisin is a gifted storyteller and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a satisfying tale built on intriguing ideas. Buy this book if you love the flights of imagination only possible in fantasy. Buy it if you love stories of betrayal, murder, hard truths, and being in way over your head.

The book is written in the first person. To be blunt, I usually hate this. Here, it works. There are scattered, apparent digressions: snippets of history, backstory. This may bother you. I thought it fit, and the digressions served a purpose. Though the story deals with politics at the highest level, the cast is small. For those who get lost and frustrated in a George R. R. Martin-sized cast, this is a boon. Jemisin's characters are clearly differentiated and easy to remember. Those who love additional complexity may wish the cast were larger and the book longer. This is the first book in a trilogy, so I'm sure we'll get to see more in later books. The world is fascinating, but we spend most of this book inside the central palace of Sky. The visuals are clear and cool.

[Full disclosure: I have met Ms. Jemisin once, and she is published by the same company I am. However, neither she nor Orbit asked me to do this review.]

N.K. Jemisin is a debut novelist who deserves the chance to write many more novels. But you don't care about that, and you shouldn't. The only question that matters to you is, "Among all my other options, is THIS book worth my money and my time?" Yes, and yes. Emphatically.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
307 reviews1,313 followers
June 19, 2020
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms follows Yeine, a nineteen-year-old who, at the novel's beginning, is invited to visit her family seat by her grandfather Dekarta Arameri. The family seat is the city of Sky which is the heart of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and includes a beautiful and impressive floating palace. The reason for Yeine's invitation is soon revealed and is a surprise to all in attendance. Dekarta names Yeine as his heir which I imagine would have been an excellent revelation if two of her cousins weren't already assigned as heirs. To explain his thinking, Dekarta states the below, which sets up the story nicely as Yeine moves to Sky with her relatives, with its political disharmony, and with its Gods that walk the palace corridors.

“It is very simple. I have named three heirs. One of you will actually manage to succeed me. The other two will doubtless kill each other or be killed by the victor. As for which lives, and which die—” He shrugged. “That is for you to decide.”

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is presented in the first-person perspective and follows events over a couple of weeks after Yeine arrives in Sky. As a new addition, she has to figure out how things work in Sky, try to make friends and allies, whilst also trying to uncover how and why her mother was murdered which happened prior to her arrival. In addition, she has started having frequent strange dreams and visions.

My favourite aspect of this story was the Gods and the way they mingle with and converse with the inhabitants of Sky. There are four of these Gods and they are essentially prisoners of a great God War. They could be considered slaves or weapons and have to abide by the demands and requests of the ruling family. Yeine included. The way these Gods are presented is similar to the Gods in Malazan Book of the Fallen. I adore it in stories when the Gods have human qualities and characteristics all whilst being much more powerful, intimidating, mysterious and even mischievous. It's interesting here that the Gods, although still formidable beings, are restrained by mortals. My favourite scenes involved Nahadoth (the Nightlord) and his son Seih. The lore and history surrounding the Gods was a joy to read. This is presented to readers through Yeine discussing what she learnt in history books or from the mouths of the Gods themselves in conversations with her.

“We can never be gods, after all--but we can become something less than human with frightening ease.”

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is an enchanting and majestic fantasy read. The novel is written in an eloquent manner and is engaging in the way that it focuses on Yeine's relationships with her family, the people of Sky, and the Gods. Her cousins make fine characters although I didn't see as much of her drunken cousin Relad as I'd have hoped, but I do have a soft spot for drunks in fiction. With a title as grandiose as The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, it was surprising that the majority of the events take place in Sky alone and we are witness to little that happens elsewhere. As Sky is the centre and controlling nation of these Kingdoms though, the title does make sense yet I do hope that in the following books of the series we do visit other cities and sections of Jemisin's crafted world. Overall, I had an extremely positive experience with this book, my first time reading Jemisin. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was an addictive tale that I devoured within four days and I am definitely planning to continue this series and to check out more of the author's back catalogue.

“In a child's eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.”
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,839 reviews4,674 followers
March 2, 2021
I mean how in the hell am I supposed to write a review for this magnificent piece of literature!? If you didn't know, I've never read Jemisin prior to this book and let me tell you I'm willing to read anything she writes at this point. This book was just that good. 4.5 Stars!

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is unlike anything that I've read before. I mean really unlike anything that I've ever read. I'm really into mythology or anything that has a premise of gods and goddesses. If that's included somewhere in the story I'm sold. This book was no different. I'm going to be transparent and say the first chapter is jarring. Jemisin, in my opinion, has a very unique writing style that takes time to adjust to and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the book at all. But I kept reading and I promise that every single part of this book held my attention. The political intrigue, the complexity of the world building, the character development and plot development. It was unlike anything that I've ever seen.

The character development is tricky to describe. No character could be trusted and no character could be defined as good or bad. They were all flawed in their own ways which may them easier to relate to. In many ways, Jemisin creates a line between the roles that gods/goddesses and the roles that humans play in this world. There are moments when you feel for the gods/goddesses and moments where you feel for the humans. And the relationships between all of them are difficult and complex. They way that they all chose to present themselves and use each other for selfish gains is all part of the political intrigue. While we get a little taste of all characters, I found myself very invested in Nahadoth and Yeine not only because of the connection that develops between the two of them, but also because they each had so many sides to their personality. Just the wide range of emotions that they must utilize (or get rid of) in order to survive is enough to pull any reader into their story.

Now, the plot is difficult to explain because I feel like this work is particularly easy to spoil. I will say that I enjoyed the pacing. The twists and turns are jaw-dropping and closely relate to how emotions drive or hinder characters from making certain decisions. I think that some readers will step into this book expecting it to cover an entire world; however, this is not the case. Jemisin takes her time exploring the Sky Kingdom and I appreciated that. That's what makes the world building so complex, getting to know the intricacies of just this one area. I do wish that we would have gotten just a little more background knowledge of Yeine especially since I think her kingdom may play a role later on in the books, but I may just have to wait until the 2nd and 3rd books. Part of me (I should say a huge part of me) feels as though emotions are the driving force behind this plot. There is a very thin line between the emotions of love and hate and quite often those lines are blurred. The passion and rage that each character utilizes as a catalyst for their decision making reminds me quite a bit of what we would do in a contemporary setting.

Overall, I thought that this was a great novel. Something that I could have never expected loving because I’m quite intimidated by high fantasy. I know that some people are weary of the romantic situation between the gods especially when they are related. It does come off as incestuous; however, I think that when we're talking about the origins of all humankind and other gods/goddesses it becomes inevitable that people will be related to others. It does have potential to make people uncomfortable; however, for me, understanding their roles as gods/goddesses helped me process it better. There is also an instance of pedophilia in relation to the gods that was difficult for me to stomach especially because I connected to this character. It does affect his character development and relationship to Yeine as well as his presentation as a god. So, I would be mindful of that going into the book.

I mean honestly I loved this book. Jemisin challenged a lot of the status quo that has existed in the publishing arena of SFF. To have Black characters and particularly Black women at the forefront of this novel shaping and molding the plot, serving as the driving force of this world that is torn apart because of the death of a woman is nothing but pure brilliance. I can’t believe I took this long to read Jemisin but I loved it and I can’t wait to read more!
Profile Image for The  BumblePuppy Press.
53 reviews10 followers
April 1, 2012

For the record, my copy of N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms came courtesy of a contest conducted by the writer Tricia Sullivan, whose novel, Maul, I read a few years back and which which has since stayed with me far more strongly than most. I wish I could say the same about The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.


Stormwinds over a cardboard world:
Nebula-nominated first novel is epic failure



I opened N.K. Jemisin's (now Nebula Award nominated) first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, having occasionally read the author's blog and commentary elsewhere on the internet, and was well-aware the book had been getting a lot of positive attention since it was published last year. In other words, I was looking forward to reading at least a very good debut novel and hoping for even more than that.

Instead, I find myself obliged to discuss a first novel about which I can find almost nothing good to say whatsoever — except to note that, on page 222, the author offers a striking and (I think) original metaphor for the female orgasm.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a novel remarkable only for the lack of detail and verisimilitude of its world-building, the droning sameness of its characters (god or human — you can't tell them apart), the thoughtlessly anachronistic dialogue and banality of its prose.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not the worst novel I've ever read (there are lots of bad books out there), but it might be the worst highly-praised science fiction novel I've ever come across (I say "might" because it has been many years since I read Lord of Light ).

The basics include a number of standard fantasy tropes. A world not quite our own, shared by humans and a more ancient and powerful race; a heroine with a Special Destiny; a society with a pre-industrial technology (plus magic) and a feudal political order with a cruel and corrupt extended family at the top of the heap.

There's nothing inherently wrong with re-using the familiar to tell a story, but there is a lot wrong with using those tropes so badly the reader never feels they are looking in on another world, let alone that they have actually entered into what Tolkien called a secondary creation.

For a fantasy to succeed, it must convince the reader of not only the reality of its narrative but of that narrative's background. The author must pay attention to such things as his or her world's history and culture, to its tools and technology, as much as to character and psychology.

To my ears, neither Jemisin's world-building nor her character-building convince, let alone provide cause to care. Worse, her prose is sophomoric and her dialogue painfully melodramatic.

I did not answer, and after a moment Scimina sighed.

"So," she said, "there are new alliances being formed on Darr's borders, meant to counter Darr's perceived new strength. Since Darr in fact has no new strength, that means the entire region is becoming unstable. Hard to say what will happen under circumstances like that."

My fingers itched for a sharpened stone. "Is that a threat?"

"Please, Cousin. I'm merely passing the information along. We Arameri must look out for one another."

"I appreciate your concern." I turned to leave, before my temper slipped any further ...


These are not words that sing, nor dialogue that breathes. Is there anything in this book that does? Click to read more.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,160 reviews2,010 followers
July 20, 2020
I have read a few books by this author now and all of them worth five stars. I am pretty sure she can do no wrong as far as I am concerned.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms had me gripped from beginning to end. Great world building with a promise of much more to come in the rest of the trilogy. Fantastic characters, especially the gods who I also hope to see more of in the next two books. An intriguing story with an excellent twist at the end which provided a totally satisfactory conclusion.

Loved it. Roll on book two:)
Profile Image for Sean Gibson.
Author 6 books5,674 followers
April 13, 2021
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is stuffed with big ideas, big gods, and big emotions. It’s also stuffed with a lot of world-building exposition—thankfully, Jemisin is a masterful writer and storyteller who can make even the biggest info dump into compelling reading. (Note to self: figure out a way to steal this ability from Jemisin…crap; did I write that out loud? Pretend I didn’t say that. In fact, I didn’t say that at all—you just imagined it. I can’t believe you would ever think I would plan something so dastardly. FOR SHAME.)

An adventure well worth taking—I’m looking forward to book two!
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,108 reviews1,168 followers
April 5, 2015
This book had a lot of hype when it was first released, followed by a backlash that seemed primarily motivated by the fact there is romance in it. Now that I’ve gotten around to reading this, I did not enjoy it, but that had less to do with the fact that the protagonist hooks up with a dark god than that the story just isn’t very interesting.

Yeine is a young woman who travels to a distant land and gets caught up in court politics over her head – standard fantasy stuff. The story is told through Yeine’s first-person narration, looking back on events, and her voice is the one aspect of the book I sort of liked. On the one hand, it is strong and assured, and the digressions and circling back to add new information and asides to the reader give the sense of a person actually telling a story. On the other hand, this voice – reflective, detached, polished – clearly belongs to a writer, while our 19-year-old Yeine is supposed to be the warrior queen of a female-dominated barbarian tribe.

I say “supposed to be” not only because she doesn’t sound anything like that, but also because she doesn’t act like it. In her actions she is astoundingly passive, a Generic Female Protagonist used as a pawn by everyone around her, who spends most of the book waiting for events others have set in motion. Such passivity not only leaches interest from the story, but prevents me from even classifying it as epic fantasy. The defining characteristic of that subgenre is a struggle between good and evil. There’s evil here, thanks to the gratuitous acts of brutality that are apparently required in all fantasy novels in the Game of Thrones era (I say this as someone who loves the Song of Ice and Fire series, but could do without the often out-of-place attempts at grittiness in every other fantasy novel). But there’s no struggle. Yeine doesn't try to fight back. She's an object of others' actions, lacking goals of her own; she quickly gives up even on the modest aspiration of surviving her royal family’s backstabbing, hoping only to accomplish with her death an act suggested to her for their own benefit by some characters she��s just met, who have then agreed to assist her people, who are never even introduced. Now tell me that sounds like a rousing plot.

Other than Yeine, there are fewer than a dozen characters in the book, most of whom are plot devices with at best one character trait. And although there are supposedly a hundred thousand kingdoms, all the action takes place in the bland, white imperial city of Sky. Jemisin develops the world’s mythology, but not its present; there’s no sense of life in it. Back to poor Yeine: she’s supposed to have come from a matriarchal society in which the government and army are all female, but upon arriving in Sky, where almost everyone in power is male, has no reaction to or comment on this difference. An easy mistake to make in a setting lacking sufficient culture for anyone to be a convincing product of it.

Yes, you can find fantasy much worse than this, but I found nothing here to hold my attention: not the plot, not the characters, not the world. I’m glad other readers enjoy Jemisin’s work, but after reading a book and a half (the half was The Killing Moon, which I finally set aside because while technically better than this one, it had not inspired even minimal interest), I have to conclude that it is not for me.
Profile Image for Hannah.
588 reviews1,045 followers
May 19, 2017
Books like this one are the reason why I read and love fantasy. N. K. Jemisin has a way of creating believable and exciting worlds that make me think about my own in a way that I haven't before. While the world in this series is (so far/ for me) not as impressive as the one created in The Fifth Season, it is still highly original and a wonderful basis for the type of stories she excells in.

Set in a world where after a war between the gods some of those gods are enslaved by humans and one is revered, the main character, Yeine, is thrust into a court full of intrigue and subtlety and hatred when her estranged grandfather names her his potential heir. We follow Yeine trying to survive long enough to stand a chance to become Queen. She needs to learn who to trust and who to avoid, but mostly she needs to learn who she wants to be and where her loyalties lie.

My absolute favourite part were the characters Jemisin created - Yeine is a wonderful example of how to create a heroine who is kickass without being abrasive, strong-willed without being a caricature, flawed without being unsympathetic, and most of all fully believable and somebody I just rooted for since the very first page. I love the relationships she forges, both with the imprisoned gods and with other humans living in the palace, but mostly I loved her relationship with Sieh - a trickster god so great he reminded me of Shakespeare's Puck Robin. Sieh is such an amazing and different character and Jemisin never lets you forget that he isn't human.

So, yes. I loved it a lot. And I cannot wait to read the next book in this trilogy and I am beyond excited to see where this story goes next. N. K. Jemisin is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

____
Having thought about this book some more, I have to give it five stars. Everything above still stands.
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
616 reviews377 followers
June 10, 2017
Man, oh man, oh man, oh man...this book was PHENOMENAL.

I honestly can't remember the last book that kept me so fastened to the couch, ignoring social calls and daily rituals just to read one more chapter. Okay, maybe just one more...you get the picture. This book is relentlessly fun, and for a first novel in a trilogy it moves at an unrelenting clip. I kept saying that I'd put the book down, only for the end of a chapter to beg a bit more reading. This book gave me a much needed defibrillation to my summer reading that has left me invigorated.

The worst part? The trilogy collection sat on my shelf for months and months, always put off in place of a novel I thought might be more "important", challenging, or rewarding. I originally decided to pick up the trilogy for two reasons:

a)Junot Diaz (a favourite author of mine) placed it on his world-building creative writing syllabus at MIT. A syllabus which highlights a diverse group of authors rather than just a bunch of white dudes. Check out that syllabus here

b)I got the entire trilogy omnibus for $13 or $15, which is a real steal for such a hyped fantasy author.

But, as I mentioned, I kept putting the whole series off. Then, as I was finishing up with my last couple books, I decided to put my intended reading list on hold and test the waters with Jemisin's trilogy. If nothing else, I was sure that it would be a reprieve from the heavier stuff I've been into lately.

As you may have already gathered, I couldn't get enough.

Our story begins with a style that instantly caught me off-guard for a fantasy novel. First person narrative, sure. But the modern dialect and style? The asides directed (seemingly) at the audience? This book, right away, declared itself different from the pack. Yeine, a barbarian girl called from her country to live amongst her mother's royal family, gets to hang out with the gods. The rub is this: thousands of years ago there was a calamity and the gods were enslaved by Yeine's ancestors. Of course, there's a good bit of slavery going on with the general population in Sky, the city built for royals by their enslaved gods.

Jemisin does something really great here: she makes a story about the myriad horrors of slavery using a really awesome fantasy narrative. As I was ripping through pages and Jemisin was battering down fantasy tropes, I had to pause every once and a while to admire the different type of story she was trying to tell. This book isn't all about sword fights, magic battles, and struggles for power (though there's that too). There's sex, thoughtful conversation, and a heroine whose strength demands to be admired. I was pleasantly surprised by Jemisin's ability to take what I worried would be a tired romance story and turn it into a series of cosmic, universe-bending sex scenes. It may sound crude, but Jemisin elevates the genre by touching on subjects and concepts that other authors shy away from, sex being just one of them.

Of course, this is all stuff I love. I loved fantasy novels when I was growing up and I usually can take something from even the bad ones I read today. I mean, there's just something appealing about a dragon fight that doesn't need a lot of dressing up. But I can understand that not everybody has that same sense of nostalgia and affinity for a given genre. What makes The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms so great is that it refuses to play by the rules and tropes of fantasy, and instead offers a new type of narrative that feels important. The lore is unique, the writing modern and exciting, the characters vividly imagined (Nahadoth and Sieh stole entire scenes for me), and Jemisin's traded a pseudo-medieval Europe setting for something completely different.

So, I totally recommend this one. I haven't had this much fun with a book all year. I loved uncovering the secrets of Yeine's family drama, I absorbed the history of the gods, and thoroughly enjoyed the Hogwarts-as-torture-castle setting of Sky. The story also ends in a way that sated my hunger for the story and characters but also, in a cute bit of narration, promises more to come. So, you could read this one and move on, but with such a cheap omnibus, why not keep on with it? I'll be reading the rest of the trilogy over the summer, using them as breaks between some of the more obtuse writing I have ahead of me.

But enough time spent with me and my review.

You've all got a book to read.
Profile Image for Henk.
822 reviews
November 29, 2022
Enticing world building with some too romantic tones in it to make me fully convinced
We can never be gods, after all - but we can become something less than human with frightening ease.

The start of this book made me think of the movie Jupiter Rising, with a nobody becoming heiress to a vast kingdom. The provincial girl (You are naive. Maybe I was. But that didn’t make me wrong) dropped in the heart of power made me think of Arkady Martine A Memory Called Empire series.

Except this heiress is not due an intergalactic enterprise but a godly powered floating palace. In this Sky gods have been enslaved by men after a disastrous war led to one god ruling all. This brings along all kind of complications because the gods are unpredictable and even mischievous, wanting to stir up trouble against the ruling Arameri family head.
The moral implications are profound, with one of the past Arameri even destroying a whole continent via the super weapon power of the god of Chaos and Darkness.

The main gods being three and having a triangular relation feel similar, if more murderous and incestuous to that of Essun, Alabaster and Innon in the later The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season / The Obelisk Gate / The Stone Sky.

The matriarchal society of Darre is a nice contrast, and there is a living dead plague (which never recurs in the other books unfortunately) and shows richness in world building, but the whole stone and ceremony being introduced around page 160 feels a bit botched and sudden
Most annoying to me where however the Twilight/Fifty Shades of Grey vibes in the relationship between the main character and one of the gods.
I mean sentences like these are rather atrocious:
Your thoughts have always harmed me. All your terrors, all your needs. They push and pull at me, silent commands.

The theme of order and peace versus chaos and change is interesting as does some moral corruption being forced upon our main character:
Which made it no more right - but understandable. Like so much in Sky, wrong but understandable.

Overal enjoyable but with a rather blatant deus ex machina at the end, never ging me a true sense of tension that our main character would not end up on top somehow in the end.
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
570 reviews212 followers
July 28, 2017
Original impression (April 2017): 2 stars - Meh...I'm burned out on spending a lot of time on stuff I don't want to spend time on.

Revised impression (July 2017): 3 solid stars. It turns out this book wasn't finished with me yet. I thought I had put it behind me, but it kept creeping back to my mind and I couldn't help but want to see where it would go....All in all, I was pretty impressed by the end, and I might even continue the trilogy....if it calls to me again..
Profile Image for Gergana.
227 reviews390 followers
February 9, 2017


First read in 2010
Last read in 2016



All images are drawn by me, for higher resolution visit gerynh.tumblr.com

GODS! Yep, this series is about Gods.

100 000 Kingdoms was my first "what-the-hell-there-are-no-dragons-here-and-it's-not-Harry-Potter" type of book. It was the first novel that introduced me to fictional politics and quiet mysterious dudes with power over darkness... that turned out to be one of my many many weaknesses...
A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas The Way of Shadows (Night Angel, #1) by Brent Weeks Into the Dark Lands (The Sundered, #1) by Michelle Sagara West Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
... damn you sexy shadow-wielding-men!

There are a few reasons why you might enjoy this book:
A. You're into mythology and legends, you like books about gods and their interactions with mortals.
B. You're into philosophy, contemplating what would happen if part of humanity had control over divine powers.
C. You would like to see another hot juicy romance between a simple mortal girl and a dude-controlling-shadows #437.
D. You like the cover! (Best reason of them all!)

~~~~~~~~~PLOT (Yeine's story)~~~~~~~~~~

Imagine a world of a hundred thousand kingdoms... And one kingdom to rule them all. Muahaha!

A kingdom that has actual Gods as slaves and the ruling family, the Arameri, can command them at will. This is the world of Yeine, a half-blooded Arameri and a leader of a small matriarchal tribe that is barely surviving in the jungles. One day she is summoned to the court of her grandfather, the King, in the city of Sky and named potential heir to the crown.


Yeine

Yeine comes from a tribe where women don't shy from battles and, as a leader, she isn't inexperienced in politics and back-stabbing. Yet, the whole situation doesn't make any sense to her: why is her grandfather interested in her now, after so many years. Why would he name her heir, when there are already two contestant competing for the crown.

When Yeine arrives at the palace it doesn't take long for her to get in trouble with other Arameri and the Gods themselves. Sure, having a mass of darkness (aka. Nahadoth, the God of darkness) chase you around a floating castle, isn't an ideal first day for anyone, but Yeine soon manages to establish alliances with the majority of the Gods inhabiting the place, promising them freedom in exchange for their aid to become the next successor to the crown.

~~~~~~~~~PLOT (The Gods' story)~~~~~~~~~~

In this world of a hundred thousand kingdoms there is peace (most of the time). Wars cause too much chaos and change, something that the main deity of this world - Itempas, despises.


Itempas - God of law, order and light.

But it wasn't always like that.

Long ago, there were three main Gods.

Itempas - the god of law, order and light
Nahadoth - the god (and sometimes goddess) of darkness, night and chaos.
And Enefa - the goddess of twilight, dawn, life and death.

One day Itempas, guided by jealousy and loneliness, slew Enefa and imprisoned Nahadoth and three of the children gods, to serve humanity. (More details in book 2 which is actually even better XD)

Anyways, let's just say that most of the Arameri are kind of messed up in the head and even an ancient, all powerful and immortal being, such as the God of Darkness will do anything possible to "misinterpret" their commands and screw with them as much as possible. Nevertheless, it's not easy being a slave, being able to use your power only when you're commanded to and watching your children being tortured for centuries by the species you were part of creating.

<
Nahadoth

~~~~What I liked~~~~

The World - Sure, I can't say it was the most imaginative and complex fictional place I've ever been to, but it has its own charm. In terms of geography, it's nothing spectacular. The best part, of course, is the mythology and how the Gods fit into the whole story. It was interesting to see such powerful beings trapped into human existence, how people's mind can change when not even the majority of the Gods can oppose their will. Speaking of which...

The Gods - They are massive, fathomless and incomprehensible. I loved it when they tried to act human for the benefit of Yeine (or when they were forced to by the Arameri), but then they would say or do something that will leave you feeling uneasy and shaky. Nahadoth is able to use only a fraction of his power during the night and you get a feeling that this book can only touch the surface of his character.

Sieh - the God of childhood and lies, is probably my favorite character. He is the eldest of the godlings, yet, he appears (most of the time) as a nine-year old child - innocent, sweet and curious. Sieh is the first godling to befriend Yeine and he always tries to appeal to her motherly instincts. However even children are capable of cruelty and deceit. Sieh has planets and suns as his toys, he is capable of stealing away worlds and threatening to kill you in the most horrifying way.


~~~~What I didn't like~~~~

Romance - the romance between Yeine and Nahadoth didn't really resonate with me. It wasn't bad, but I missed the emotional connection between the characters. The whole time, it felt like they were just using eachother to achieve their goals. And I liked that. I prefer to see them as friends with benefits ;)



Yiene - I wasn't a huge fan of Yiene for some reason. She is supposed to be a strong and clever woman, but most of the time she spends running around and worrying about smaller things rather than looking at the whole picture.

~~~~The Final Verdict~~~~

A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a unique, thought-provoking and imaginative book with intriguing politics, complex characters and sexy shadow-wielding-dudes ahem...amazing world-building. It's in my list of favorites and there is nothing I would love to do more than push this book in people's faces until they agree to read it. Unfortunately, I'm not an Arameri and I don't own any Gods to punish anyone who opposes my will...

Would I recommend to a friend?My answer is... it depends. Do you like political fantasy (not too overly complicated)? Do you want a read a book about immortal, all-powerful beings trapped into human existence? Are you fond of romance (that didn't make a lot of sense for me, but it was still good). Do you have hundreds and hundreds of books in your tbr-shelf and wouldn't mind adding one more? If the answer is "yes" then go ahead. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (hopefully, even more) :)



More Recommendations:

Books with sexy shadow-wielding-men:
A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas The Way of Shadows (Night Angel, #1) by Brent Weeks Into the Dark Lands (The Sundered, #1) by Michelle Sagara West Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is my favorite, A Court of Thorns and Roses is pretty popular too. Both are YA though, and focus more on the romance (which I didn't get, yet again).

The Cloud Roads (Books of the Raksura, #1) by Martha Wells
Cloud Roads by Martha Wells - a book that was recommended by N.K. Jemisin and ended up becoming one of my top 5 favorites! It's unique and freaking amazing!
Profile Image for Sofia.
266 reviews6,177 followers
October 16, 2020
*yawn* Booooooriiiiing.

Maybe I have a short attention span (true) or I'm just not that into epic fantasy anymore (also true), but this was so unbearably slow that I nearly put it down three times before finally deciding to banish it to the DNF zone.

I've heard wonderful things about N.K. Jemisin, but this style of narration didn't really suit the mood. In the middle of an intense action scene, we would be pulled away for a history lesson on the culture and religion of Sky. And while I liked this at first, it got old fast. Imagine if I wrote my reviews like this:

I've heard wonderful things about N.K. Jemisin, but this style of narration didn't really suit the mood. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

* * *
This book was written in 2010.

***
Ah, yes. Where was I?
In the middle of an intense action scene, we would be pulled away for a history lesson on the culture and religion of Sky.


And so on and so forth. While it definitely was unique, it didn't fit the storyline as a whole, and made it rather disjointed. I also felt detached from the narrative somehow, as if I were watching this from the sky (hehe, puns) and seeing the action, rather than feeling it and being in the midst of it.

This was honestly a really confusing book. Despite the strange narration, I thought I had a solid grip on the religion and customs of this floating city - until I tried to think of a way to recap the story... and failed. There are some gods who look like humans, and Yeine is competing to be the heir of a hotshot rich guy. That's all I remembered. And I stopped reading just a few hours ago.

I was really disappointed by this, because it's N.K. Jemisin, and isn't she supposed to be the master of fantasy? On the surface, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms seems like a book I would love. But it was soooo boring and slow, lacking compelling, original characters to keep me anchored. It wasn't very long till I was skimming. I decided I could spend my time on better books than this.

DNF
1.5 stars
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,048 reviews13k followers
April 3, 2021
I had high hopes going into this one because people tell me that, as a romance reader, I would love it. Unfortunately, since I don't read fantasy all that often, I really think this just wasn't the book for me. I am really a plot-driven reader when it comes to fantasy and this plot was very very slow. Yeine arrives at the kingdom and doesn't really do a whole lot. Sure, I was intrigued by her romance with the god, but it wasn't enough for me to really get invested in this book. I feel like a lot of aspects of this world are still confusing and I am still not sure how she was supposed to "win" being the heir. Even at the end when bigger things were happening in the plot, I wasn't fully quite sure what was going on. This world was definitely unique and I haven't read anything like it, I just had a hard time connecting with the plot and fully grasping the story. There were also strange moments of incest and I'm still not fully aware of those relationships. I wish I could have loved this more, it was just too slow and confusing for me to fully enjoy.
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