Monday, December 6, 2010
N.K. Jemisin/THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS
Yeine is the princess of Darr, a "barbarian" kingdom far from the administrative capital of Sky, but her life is disrupted when she is called to Sky following her mother's death. Yeine's mother had been the heir to the powerful Arameri family, who rule all of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms from Sky, but had given it all up to flee to Darr with her Darre husband. Now that her mother is dead, Yeine's grandfather, the king, has called Yeine to the capital to compete for the unwanted privilege of being his heir.
The more Yeine learns about the Arameri capital, the less she likes it--it is a city of cruelty and oppression, where no one's life is sacred and where power is maintained through a distasteful pact with Itempas, the Skyfather, one of the three gods. (In the pact, the Arameri keep a second god and the gods' children as slaves; the third god was murdered in the war for power.) And now Yeine is being forced to compete for the dubious distinction of heir to this realm, and for her life.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was recommended to me separately by several different people, at least two of whom said it was the best thing they had read this year. I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it to all fantasy and scifi readers--it's innovative but epic, with plenty to chew on. It's adventurous, sexy, and morally fraught--basically everything one looks for in meaningful new fantasy novels. This is an idea book, with many powerful allegories, and if I had one gripe with it it was that it could have been longer and let me indulge in those ideas a little longer. But that's ok, I'll forgive the author, since she's written two more books in the series.