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Book Club Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

By / January 11, 2014 / no comments



This was our book club book a few months ago but time got away from me. Turns out I’m glad I didn’t write it up because some latecomers had some really interesting and poignant things to say.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the debut novel by N.K. Jemisin is the first book of the Inheritance Cycle. It is written from the view point of Yeine Darr. Her story starts when her mother dies and she is summoned to the city of Sky where she is named heiress to the King. She enters into a power struggle with the two offspring of the king. All pretty standard so far, but this is where it getting weird/interesting/even more boring depending on who you talk to. The city of Sky and the rulers of it have power over Gods. There is a whole backstory there that I won’t spoil but basically these Gods are the ruler’s little Bi#%$hes.

There was lots of in depth discussion with some agreements and some disagreements, with some not even sure what to rate it.

Danica (me) enjoyed the short and sharp sentences most of the time, and thought it made for an easy read, especially as it is first person POV. Alcuard agreed when he stated he thought the best part of the book was that it reads quickly. Laur admits that it is not a great book, but the writing and pacing is just perfect. He thinks it isn’t the greatest story, but it flows naturally, and it’s compelling.

Amaryllis thought the book contained some of the most well-articulated, fantastic imagery I’ve ever read. Moonspawn thought the best part of Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was Jemisin’s attention to detail. Amidst all of the information about the god wars and the culture/society of the world, it would seem like it would be easy to miss something vital which could potentially hamper someone’s enjoyment. Despite the potential to fall into that trap Moonspawn thought she balanced it nicely, she doesn’t overwhelm the reader with information and she doesn’t repeat herself to often either.

Hand of Fear was blunt when he said the people seem very shallow, bland and very uninteresting and he didn’t feel any kind of emotional connection to any of them. This is probably the biggest downfall of the book. People were divided on the character of Yeline but everyone universally agreed that the romance aspect was awful. Just in the interest of warning there is a strong rape subtext and none of us could find a valid, believable, non-weird explanation in the character’s actions, beliefs, or feelings in regards to that.

Most of us enjoyed how Jemisin used the Gods in the story. Antoxx really liked the complexities of the characterisation of the gods/godlings. Sneaky found the human control over the gods interesting, as well.

I think the best way to sum up is to say, this book could have been great if Jemisin had left her weird anime influences out of this one (thanks to Amaryllis for that pick up). If that had been left out this book might have been really great. For the most part it was a refreshing diversion from the world of ‘gritty and grey’ and had some really great moments.

Total rating of 3/5

Check out of the book club thread if you want to read the whole conversation!

About the author


Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!


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