Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Author: Jemisin, N.K.
Length: 432 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher / Year: Orbit / 2010
Source: Amazon Kindle store
Why I Read It: For the More Diverse Universe week.
Date Read: 17/09/12
In a world where class and race are all important, Yeine, whose mother gave up her position as heir to the throne to marry a lesser noble from a remote Northern kingdom, is called back to Sky and named heir herself. She now has to struggle against her two cousins who were also named heir, knowing that only one of them will survive. In a city and indeed a world where to be Amn is to be everything, Yeine struggles against the taunts and insults of being half Amn and half Darren, and for having grown up in a ‘backwards and uncivilized’ warrior tribe.
Jemisin has built a complete world full of kingdoms and warriors and councils and kings. She has also created a full world and history of gods that has profound impacts on her world. Some of these gods are enslaved, and through them she explores issues of good and evil as a dichotomy, of the balance between the two, and more. She really explores the interconnectedness of all of these grand concepts like good and evil, day and night, love and hate, and more.
Through the character of Yeine and the kingdoms of Darr and Amn Jemisin explores issues relating to race, gender, and differing cultures. For example, in Darr, the women are the warriors and the men stay home because their first goal is to protect the home and children. This is an interesting take on the idea of men as protectors and while not a key element to the story, fits so well and gives readers a chance to think and explore what that means and how it works. It is the small details like that which really make the story such an interesting read.
Very well-written, and very engaging. I was hooked from the start and couldn’t put it down. Rather than simply explaining everything in the world, Jemisin slowly builds the story, and as it builds puts in tidbits of information that all come together to explain the workings of the world, the history, and more. I look forward to reading more by Jemisin in the future, as her characters and worlds are built really well and develop realistically through the story. Her explorations and takes on gender and race were really well done and a lot of fun to read. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy read.