The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Series: Inheritance Trilogy #1
Published by Orbit US on February 25, 2010
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
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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.
I purchased my copy of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in Sept 2011. This means that The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms qualifies for my 2017 The Mt. TBR Struggle is Real! challenge at 5 years, 6 months.
I think I’m still trying to parse my feelings toward my read of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I can easily say that I enjoyed the read immensely – but at the same time it’s a weird book. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is also an engrossing book. I can easily say that I struggled with the first few chapters – but once I got through those chapters I was hooked. By the time I got to page 100 I was flying through The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms! It was all delicious and strange and at times almost hedonistic.
There is quite a bit of “alien” in this book – some of the writing felt rather awkward as well. Yeine has moments when she fades in and out of the present into her own head. As time (and the book) passed, I discovered the reason for this and it…felt pretty good! There’s so much that’s going on in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms that the book itself reminds me of a slowly unfurling flower: each moment brings a little more clarity as Yeine takes the reader with her on the journey towards knowledge.
I really enjoyed some of the smaller bits of the story that weren’t large plot devises: I love that the Darre are a matrilineal warrior culture. One of my favorite quotes is when Yeine told T’rvil to go get married to someone who could keep him in luxury – and to reproduce to see if his “pretty spots” are hereditary. LOVED that!
“You should leave this place, T’vril. Find yourself a good woman to take care of you and keep you in silks and jewelry.”
T’vril stared at me, then burst out laughing, not strained at all this time. “A Darre woman?”
“No, are you mad? You’ve seen what we’re like. Find some Ken girl. Maybe those pretty spots of yours will breed true.”
“Pretty –freckles, you barbarian! They’re called freckles.”
The Darre treat men much in the same way that the Victorians treated women: something to be protected and indulged. Which also means that the Darre men are an [emotional] weak spot for the Darre warriors.
There is a stir at the edge of the forest. Someone stumbles out, blinded and half-choked by smoke. A wisewoman? No, this is a man – a boy, not even old enough to sire daughters. What is he doing out here? We have never allowed boys to fight. And the knowledge comes: my people are desperate. Even children must fight, if we are to survive.
The enemy soldiers swarm over him like ants. They do not kill him. They chain him in a supply cart and carry him along as they march. When they reach Arrebaia, they mean to put him on display to strike at our hearts –oh, and how it will. Our men have always been our treasures. They may slit his throat on the steps of Sar-enna-nem, just to rub salt in the wound.
There is so much I can’t really get into without spoiling the story – and a story like this deserves not to be spoiled. All I can say is that I wish I’d read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms earlier – but I’m glad I have so much Jemisin left to read!