18 November 2016

Books: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (2010)

“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.”

Fantasy novels have always served the same basic premise, that of “restoring order to a kingdom, returning a rightful heir to the throne, or defeating some dark power that threatens to unbalance society.” What N.K. Jemisin does here is sort upends the apple cart, creating a vivid world where the things are not always so cut and dry as one expects from the genre. Yeine is capable, three dimensional protagonist in the opening book of The Inheritance Trilogy, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. She faces a few challenges –even if a few of the solutions are fairly easy-, including a potential romance with a god. There is some fine mythology that Jemisin created here, and I was intrigued that castle a typical fantasy novel would be the home of light and goodness is really just about the most terrible places a reader could imagine.

 I was often reminded of the my early years of reading fantasy, were writers like David Eddings wrote more straightforward tales that were not as dense and overtly complicated (though the books premise about god and goddesses and the unmaking of the universe is fairly complex here). Plus they were not over-bloated epics of 800 plus pages. A good fantasy series locking in around four-hundred pages gives me more pleasure and a better likelihood I’ll continue on.

It’s not perfect, but I found the pacing and the ideas –especially ones that challenge the status quo- more rewarding than I’ve seen in a while in this genre.  

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