Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mini book review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

I picked this one up after reading an NPR article about what other epic fantasy series might make good television, once Game of Thrones has been exhausted.  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the first book of the Inheritance Trilogy.  The heroine, Yeine Darr, has been summoned from her small, backwater northern land to the side of her paternal grandfather, a powerful Arameri, leader of the world.  As the only child of his only child, Yeine is named as heir and immediately thrown into the twisted intrigues of her vicious family, having to rely on her wits, warrior prowess and the kindness of a distant cousin to aid her.  She also becomes entangled with the gods of this realm, physically manifested, enslaved by the Arameri, and as petty, changeable and cruel as any human.

The pluses:  Yeine is a short, scrappy, mixed-race, curly-haired, not particularly pretty heroine, so that's different.  The world-building is novel and interesting.  The infrequent sex scenes are well-written, hot but not overdone.  Once you get past the appalling generic fantasy cover of the book, it's a fairly engaging read - I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  The minuses:  The villains are written thinly.  The novel jumps around - a stylistic choice meant for a reason - making it occasionally difficult to figure out what was going on.  The world-building is not nearly as detailed or well-constructed as The Song of Ice and Fire or Joe Abercrombie's novels (which, yes, continue to be the gold standard by which I judge all other works of fantasy).  The verdict:  I can see where NPR was going with this, but the special effects necessary to successfully incorporate the gods into a t.v. version would be prohibitive.

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