By: N.K. Jemisin
It seems like I only read a handful of books each year that are really, really good. What does it take for a book to be really, really good? It’s got to be easy to read, the world has to be believable (especially if it isn’t our world), the plot has to be engrossing, and the characters have to feel real. The Hundred Thousands Kingdoms has all of those. It’s no surprise that it’s been nominated for several awards.
The world that Jemisin creates is a unique one, but one that isn’t so far removed from our own that you feel completely foreign and lost. She also does a great job of not over describing the world, leaving enough of it to the readers imagination so as to not grate on any one readers’ mind. Along with a well written world, we get a whole cadre of the worlds’ gods. The gods’ history is a deep one that is slowly revealed to us throughout the story. Revealed, we find a family of gods that show the cracks and fissures of having the universe all to themselves for so long. Veins of jealousy, rage, and even love run througout the gods’ relationship.
The story asks one important question. What would the result be if the gods fought a war amongst themselves and their creations (humans) were caught in the middle. Thousands of years later, the gods’ war is over, and the ripples of effect have faded, leaving the world as it ended. In the middle of all of that is our heroine, the daughter of a royal heir who denounced the throne and left the country. Yeine is brought back to the court and reestablished as a heir only to find out that there is so much more involved in the situation. As she comes to grips with her newly changed life, and it’s inevitable demise, she discovers that even she isn’t what she appears to be.
One thing that I would have liked to have seen in this novel is a plot line that had a few more twists. Or, at least, a bit less transparency. I found that once the main plot points were revealed, the ending seemed inevitable. That certainly isn’t a deal breaker in my opinion.
Overall, the book was a quick and easy read. Not because it was simple, but because the language was written to be so. The world, the gods, and the characters were all well written and I found myself engrossed in the plot quickly and thoroughly. In fact, this is likely one of the top 5 or so books that I’ve recently. Right up there with The Name of the Wind.