Fantasy Review: ‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ by N.K. Jemisin

A city where the gods walk around enslaved after an ancient war amongst themselves, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1)forced to take orders from a family of mortals.   A hundred thousand kingdoms held in check by the city of Sky, fearing the power of a family who holds all the power of the gods.  An emperor is running out of time and his heirs will have to battle for his spot.   And into this he pulls his granddaughter Yeine, thrust into the battle of succession through no desire of her own.  Thought to be an easy target for the two serious contenders, but though the gods may be subdued, they are not broken.  And for reasons unknown to Yeine they need her to stay strong in the fight.

A sucker for unique narration am I, and this one sucked me in with a conversational tone from Yeine narrating in the first person.  A conversation is being held, between Yeine and who else is not immediately apparent, but realistic and intriguing; her memory is at times faulty and the story is anything but linear.  I can’t explain why I hate stories of time travel, but love stories that play with the timeline within but consider this a confession to that nature.  It worked well, like hearing a story from a favorite story teller. 

The story itself was surprisingly simple though, perhaps by design but it left me wishing for a bit more.  Some of the gods were interesting enough, especially the little sprite of mischief.  He provided some touching moments as well as what little humor is present.  But outside of that sprite they were just plot advancers.  I never really clicked with what they represented, and only one seemed to be consequential to the story as a whole.  Yeine is strong enough, slowing building resolve as she gets tired of being played and moves to a player in the game.  And the world itself is set up as a great big place (as the title of the book suggests), but we are only treated to glimpses of the civilizing outside of Sky.  Those glimpses we get are interesting enough, and I liked this one well enough to know that I hope to see more of the world in its next volume.

I guess I was just expecting more from this one.  I don’t have anything bad to say about it per say, it just didn’t catch me like her Dreamblood series did.  One quibble that I can actually artiulate; the villains were pure evil.  For all the time we are supposed to be thinking about how the gods are neither good nor evil, despite their capacity for destruction, we are forced fed evil human after evil human without a hint of humanity.  If there was supposed to be a deeper theme hidden in this text I missed it completely.  Wouldn’t be the first time.

I enjoyed it, I will read the next in the series, I just wasn’t blow away.  And this was one I was really hoping would be the start of a new love.  Oh well, I will always have The Killing Moon.

3 Stars