I read both books by N.K. Jemisin months ago, but never really reviewed them. I needed to remedy that, because I need to tell you all to pick this series up if you haven’t already. Here’s the thing: while this is a series (or trilogy?), they are more companion novels. They take place in the same world, yes. The second book takes place after the events of the first one, yes. But they both follow completely different characters (so I don’t think reading the synopsis of the second one will spoil you for the first one).
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance #1) by N.K. Jemisin
Published: 25.02.2010 by Orbit
Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★
Synopsis: 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 had heard so many great things about N.K. Jemisin and her fantasy books. She’s such a well-known author in the genre, so of course I had to pick up some of her books. I bought the second book in this series during a book sale, which then justified me buying the first book too. I was a bit afraid when starting this book, because I didn’t want to be let down. I wasn’t. This was even better than I was expecting it to be.
This book starts when Yeine travels to the city of Sky, which is like the capital of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Her mother was a part of the royal (I guess they are royal…) family, but she became an outcast when she married someone beneath her. So Yeine, a half-blood technically is an outcast too. Imagine her surprise when she is summoned by the king, and then named an heiress to the throne. She doesn’t know anything about this political life, this family and the struggles of being ruler. But she has no choice.
There are several possible heirs to the throne. They all have to compete with each other, until one clear winner is revealed -the one most worthy to sit on the throne. These people play dirty games. This is political back-stabbing at its best.
I have to admit that I was quite confused in the beginning. You don’t really know anything about the world, the kingdoms and their inhabitants, the religion before you start. I was a bit overwhelmed in the first pages, but quickly got over that and an image of the world started to develop in my mind. They all worship one god, but there are several others too. Then there are minor gods as well. There’s this whole historic event that happened and it all led to this: certain gods are being punished by being put into a human body. At night, they become the gods again, but during the day they are forced to live as a human, in slavery. The royal family controls said gods.
This book is amazing. I loved every minute of it (aside from the first few pages when I was terribly confused). This story was so captivating, I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know what would happen to Yeine. And I’ll admit, I was really surprised at the ending. It was not the ending I expected at all, but it was absolutely brilliant.
I also became attached to so many characters! I loved Yeine, the main character. But I also adored Sieh (one of the gods). I was terrified of Nahadoth -and also kind of felt sorry for him. I hated Yeine’s family, the ones she was competing against. They are the kind of people I want to spit in the face.
My advice: pick this book up. Not only will you get a great fantasy novel, it’s also written by a PoC author! Yay diversity in fantasy. If you find the first few pages confusing, don’t give up. I promise you it’s worth it.
The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance #2) by N.K. Jemisin
Published: 01.11.2010 by Orbit
Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★
Synopsis: In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a strange homeless man on an impulse. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. And Oree’s guest is at the heart of it.
Like I said, reading the synopsis and my review of this second book will not spoil you at all on the events of the first book. Reading the second book first might though. 🙂
This book follows a character, Oree, who wasn’t introduced in the first book. So the first book takes place in the World Tree, where the royal family and the ruler of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms live. This book takes place in the city of Sky itself, underneath the Tree -and always in its shadow, a reminder of who the rulers really are.
Oree is the main character in this book, and I have to say I adored her. She’s an artist, but she’s also blind. Yet she can create these incredible paintings at will, it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t have her sight. She knows her way around the city, and owns a little stall in which she sells her art to tourists. And most of all, she’s kind. Not the naive sort of kind where you trust everyone. But the kindness that’s more realistic. You know that not everyone is a good person, but you’re still kind to others.
Like the first book, I was completely engaged in the story. It starts when Oree finds a homeless person, and decides to take him in. He never really says anything, not even his name, so she decides to refer to him as Shiny. Some strange things start to happen in the city, and godlings are being killed. Oree may find herself more involved than she’d like. I really enjoyed it. I actually quite liked meeting the godlings, the minor gods, too because they didn’t play a role really in the first one. Like with the first book, I didn’t foresee the twists. I couldn’t have imagined who was behind it all, and the way this story ended. A side note on the ending: EXCUSE ME? HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO ME?
One of the aspects of this book I loved most, is the completely different perspective. The first book shows you the ruling families, the nobility basically and the major gods. In this book, the lives you follow are those of commoners and minor godlings. Those who actually live in the city. It was so amazing to see the history, the religion and the way people are perceived so differently! Some characters of the first book were also present here. There was one character in particular that I absolutely loved in the first book (and completely felt for). In this book, I saw a completely different side to him. He was now scary with no empathy whatsoever. I think it’s so important to show people’s different sides, which is why I loved this aspect.
Like I said, pick up this series. It’s amazing. They are companion novels, so their story isn’t too stretched out. I can’t wait to read the third book.