One of the side-effects of contributing for this blog is that I’ve started to actively seek out POC authors in other genres too. Last autumn, I suggested my local library acquire this trilogy and in December I got a message telling the books were waiting for me.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms tells a story of a mixed race girl from an oppressed nation who is invited to Sky, the palace of the king. Yeine is expecting a short visit but instead she’s made an heir and pulled into a political game. There’s her grandfather, the current head of the Arameri family, and her cousins competing for the crown with each other but not with her—Yeine is to be their pawn. There are also gods. Gods, godlings, and a complex system based on purity of Arameri blood.
I was expecting delicious political machinations, but instead I got two thousand years of religious history and a magical family with feuds at the heart of it. Not that I minded, once I got used to the fractured storytelling, but there were flaws. There were too many characters to know anyone truly intimately especially because the story was told through Yeine’s first person voice. I’m not a fan.
There’s also a love story—which is true for all three books—but it didn’t quite work for me. I enjoy Jemisin’s writing, but I don’t think she does romance well. I had hard time connecting with Yeine’s emotions and I couldn’t understand where the intrigue turned into lust and eventually into love. I did appreciate her uncomplicated attitude to sex, though.
The Broken Kingdoms continues to explore the mixing of mortals and immortals. Set ten years after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms this book focuses on a blind artisan and her immortal lodger.
I had high expectations for this book, because I loved the idea of seeing what would happen to Shiny and how he would go about atoning for his sins. It turned out to be a quite messy and bloody thing.
Oree’s narration showed that Jemisin can write romance between a god and a human, just not the falling in love part. I could empathise with her romance to Madding but I failed to see what pushed Shiny into wanting Oree after such a long and slow built friendship. I bought they friendship, worry and care for each other as well as others, but I didn’t understand what made Shiny to yearn for her touch.
I should mention that there’s also a bit of a murder mystery in this, but I was entirely too focused on the other aspects of the story to complain about it as the long time Agatha Christie fan in me is wont to do.
I loved the book up until the clichéd ending that ruined it for me. I can’t even advice anyone to skip it because the plot twist turns out to be quite important in the final part.
The Kingdom of Gods has as its narrator my favourite character from the first book, Sieh. Here, the god of childhood and mischief, is forced to grow up. This is also the book I’m most torn up about.
I absolutely loved Sieh’s voice and view of the world. I loved his weird tangents to ancient history and divine family matters. I enjoyed his character growth even if it was forced and rushed. I even loved the mystery part of the story, even if I could see the resolution coming. There wasn’t a foreshadowing fail at sight there.
However, once again, the blurb lies. It promises a love story between Sieh and Shahar, the new Arameri heir—more than a hundred years after Yeine’s time. Sieh went through all the right motions, but the problem was in the dialogue. The more other characters talked about or made Sieh talk about his love for Shahar, the less I believed in it. I could have believed the betrayal of a friendship and the hurt that caused, but not the alluded passion. I preferred the secondary romance(s) but that too suffered from the cancer of insta love.
Maybe because the last book is two hundred pages longer or maybe because Sieh is my favourite character, The Kingdom of Gods is my favourite. As conflicted as I am, this is true.
Final Assessment: Skim the books at the library before you take them home. C-