Posted by : Wendy B Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1)The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is 3 hours since I finally went to sleep, having finished this book just before dawn (how fitting). I am reading several other books at the same time and am amused that this one, at just over 200 epages, could do so much in comparison to the other books that are almost twice as long.

I must thank my muse, digitaltempest, for introducing me, though the book itself, through words and imagery scattered throughout Tumblr easily sold itself thereafter.

Then I discovered the author, N.K. Jemisin was a woman of colour. It is rare to find people like yourself creating the things that you love so, while I try not to dwell on the paleness of science fiction and fantasy, it increases my enjoyment to be entertained by something that far better reflects life as it should be, rather than the reality that is. It disturbs me that science fiction and fantasy of all things remains bound to our prejudices when the worlds and creatures you can create within these realms should be limitless. It turns out, Ms. Jemisin has much to say on this subject herself:
“And once upon a time I wondered: Is writing epic fantasy not somehow a betrayal? Did I not somehow do a disservice to my own reality by paying so much attention to the power fantasies of disenchanted white men?
But. Epic fantasy is not merely what Tolkien made it.
This genre is rooted in the epic — and the truth is that there are plenty of epics out there which feature people like me. [...] So given all these myths, all these examinations of the possible...how can I not imagine more? How can I not envision an epic set somewhere other than medieval England, about someone other than an awkward white boy? How can I not use every building-block of my history and heritage and imagination when I make shit up?
And how dare I disrespect that history, profane all my ancestors’ suffering and struggles, by giving up the freedom to imagine that they’ve won for me.”
Further reading into her blog introduces me to a woman that I have quickly come to respect, both for her writing, her outspoken thoughts and her similar interests.

As for a proper review of the book itself, I'm not going to be able to do one, save to say that, if you love fantasy, then read this. I do not easily hand out five star ratings. In fact, at 5:07am, it was at four stars. But my thoughts have been on nothing else since and so, as I continue on to mindspill, I've upgraded my rating.

[ETA] I ended up reading this again and adore it all the more now that I am aware of the bits and pieces.

My musings continue in my blog, and will undoubtedly contain spoilers:


Nahadoth, by sorskc
SPOILERS FROM HERE ON:

First and foremost, there is NAHADOTH. I might as well get him out of the way. He oozes sexuality and seduction as much as he does darkness and inspires thoughts and reaction GIFs, but, while I appreciated the tastefully done erotic moments, I loved more the tenderness, the pain, the loss, the loneliness, the heartache. The rage and violence had their place too, but it was the moments that Yeine coaxed out of him that had that much more meaning for me and the image I hold in my head is of him comforting her through her tears.
“...and when I lift my head to scream out my fury, a million stars turn black and die. No one can see them, but they are my tears.”
Second only to Nahadoth is SIEH. He so perfectly embodies both child and god and his relationship with Yeine is beyond words. I loved that Yeine, to the end, loved him, but never truly replaced his mother. And he understood that. But I loved too that he could offer her as much comfort as she him.
“He is a child, mind you - not in age, but in nature. He acts on impulse. He has a child’s creativity…a child’s cruelty. And he is Nahadoth’s, blood and soul. Just think about that, Lady. The Nightlord, living embodiment of all that we who serve the Bright fear and despise. Sieh is his firstborn son.”
I did think about it. But strangely, the image that came most clearly to mind was Sieh’s utter contentment when I’d put an arm around him that first night. Later I would understand that I had already begun to love Sieh, possibly in that very moment.
MOTHERS: Both series (the other being Game of Thrones) that I blog my musings for have included my thoughts on mothers and how they are presented. Both series recognize the cruelty a mother can do to a child even as they love them. Such power we wield over creatures born to love us unconditionally. How easily we can corrupt and bend and destroy them and yet they would still look up to us. And then I hugged my own children close because simply writing these words disturbs me to my core even as it inspires a future blog post....? (also see Regina and Cora, OUAT ...).
“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.”
The GODS themselves ... the mythologies and religions I know always feature gods with very human traits. That is what they are at the core, after all; created by us, in our own image, but lacking true human understanding. Here they are bound in human form and made to serve... Mortals wielding power over gods and revealing humanity's penchant for utter cruelty when given power. A trope, but one easily forgiven because of how true it is.
“We can never be gods, after all--but we can become something less than human with frightening ease.”
That YIENE is and would be the vessel for ENEFA was not surprising. That Enefa, goddess of dawn and dusk, would have to die and be reborn was not surprising. But I admit surprise at Viraine housing Itempas all that time. It made sense, but at the same time, I wondered at the concept of the Enefadeh not realizing it. 

The amount of POLITICKING was just enough. I often find myself skimming through books that get too caught up in the plotting of politics that are only side plots to the overall, but this was just right, such that I read and understood it all and actually cared about the outcomes. 

I know there are two more books in the SERIES, but I feel fulfilled at the moment with this one. I am a lover of the inconclusive ending though I figured I'd be jumping on to the next book to learn what came next, but this left just enough to speculation, while closing the chapter on other things. I intend to savour this for a moment, before starting the next chapter.

NARRATION. When reading a book told in first person, my brain invariably keeps thinking "how are you remembering all this?" during the whole process. Not this time. The way it was written was perfect. Interrupted thoughts. Forgotten items remembered. Misplaced information. Dreams. Conversing souls.

YEINE herself was the perfect character in her imperfections. Meant to be merely a vessel, she proved herself to be ... herself... and I loved all the moments of "weakness" she was permitted to show without spending the time repeatedly berating herself for them. 

ITEMPAS' punishment is like a twisted Jesus story. But will he truly learn what Yiene wants him to learn? I suppose that is to be seen in future books, but at the end of this one, I found myself wondering if that would ever happen. I picture his madness deepening, now trapped as his brother was. Yiene gave him the human form of Nahadoth as a companion, but I imagine the latter becoming a target for the madness and fury. At least, Naha can leave, though.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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