By Tqwana B.
5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
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.
Where do I start?
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way.
What is this amazingness!! Politics and family drama, and fallen gods. Corrupted gods. A murder mystery. And a warrior heroine who is strong and fierce, but isn’t afraid to cry when faced with certain death.
And there’s a love story. Stories, rather. Yeine and Naha. Naha and Enefa. Itempas and Naha. Enefa, Naha, And Itempas. Sieh and Yeine. Sieh and Enefa.
And the fabulously detailed and constructed world N. K. Jemisin has built in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms?!! From the mythology of the Three Gods, – balance, order, and chaos – to the political hierarchy of the kingdoms.
If that’s not enough, Jemisin takes on several social issues, including beauty standards, and how an Amareri used a interracial relationship to exact revenge on her (white) father, and how that biracial child is seen as ugly and her people barbaric by her (white) mother’s people. But, is beautiful and loved in the eyes of the gods. Oh, and they’re a matriarchal civilization.
Also, I’m reminded of that saying that if man was created in the image of God, then we have returned the favor in kind. The gods of this world are literal prisoners, forced to wear mortal bodies, to perform on command for the ruling Arameri. Have we taken God, forced our image onto Him, taken Him prisoner to serve our demands in much the same way? Metaphorically speaking, of course. This was a book written in 2010, somewhat prescient of how religion is used as a weapon – especially in politics – the way the imprisoned gods were used by the Arameri. I suppose it always has been that way, as organized religions go.
When you get to the end, go back to the first chapter and read the line “Who was I, again?” and have that Oh. Ohhhh! I see what you did there! moment.
Not that The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms isn’t enjoyable without the subtext. There’s plenty of magic and court intrigued, and the mystery of who killed Yeine’s mother. And Yeine herself, accepting her destiny. But you’d be selling yourself short.