The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (reviewed by Kay Kenyon)

As a huge fan of Kay Kenyon's The Entire and the Rose, I was happy to learn that the author had accepted my invitation to be a guest reviewer. If you haven't given that series a shot, I encourage you to do so ASAP. The books include:

- Bright of the Sky (Canada, USA, Europe)
- A World Too Near (Canada, USA, Europe)
- City Without End (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Prince of Storms (Canada, USA, Europe)

Kenyon selected N. K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Book One of the Inheritance Trilogy.

My best known work is my quartet The Entire and The Rose, beginning with Bright of the Sky. Bright was named one of the best books of 2007 by Publishers Weekly, and there were many nice reviews. (Right now Kindle readers can try out the series with a free download of Bright.) To keep me tethered, however lightly, to the real world, I chair a writers' conference, Write on the River (in Eastern Washington.) At my website, I hold forth on writing, publishing and other curious pursuits.

I picked up Jemisin's novel because it promised to be something more original that the usual epic of blood and destiny. Also, I was hoping for great world-building. This book did not disappoint.

Kay Kenyon

In the intriguing world of Sky, the gods are bound into human form. We have a driven and likable heroine, Yeine Darr, but the gods and their strange compulsion provide the true power of the story.

In this debut novel from N.K. Jemison, nineteen-year-old outsider Yeine is summoned to the mysterious city of Sky, there to take on an unexpected, and unwanted, role as co-heir to the throne. Her imperious grandfather will choose his successor from among three. No stranger to privilege, Yeine is the chief of one of the hundred thousand lands, an obscure realm considered barbaric by the vacuous aristocracy of Sky. But her heart isn't in the ritual of succession; she's in it personally to solve the mystery of her mother's killing. Her grandfather might be the murderer. Yeine is out for revenge.

Sky is a labyrinthine palace perched on a thin column high over the capital city. Sky dominates and subdues, controlling even belief. People are required to worship Bright Itempas, but there are other alternatives, including Nahadoth, the menacing and sexy Nightlord. In her ambitious premise, the author makes Nahadoth a prisoner of Sky, human by day, an elemental power by night.

Yeine has a warrior's heart and training. Repulsed by the effete denizens of the palace, she is drawn to Nahadoth's god-infused essence, but by day despises his slave persona. It's a tough love story to quite believe, but we have fun trying. Jemisin's complex story constantly shifts perspectives on the gods, revealing their human side and not flinching from the inhuman and what it means for affection, sex, loyalty and power. Yeine's only hope is her alliance with the prisoner-gods. Here, Jemisin deliciously keeps the reader off balance. We observe how her dangerous relationships fray and reknit. Not only that, but her god-friends may only be able to care for her when they manifest in the form of a child or in an incestuous triangle of brother-sister-stranger, worked out in intricate detail.

A series of startling revelations is preface for what we expect will be a conventional climax--the usual who-will-ascend-to-the-throne scene. But then the last reversal kicks in, and we are left with a satisfyingly dark shock.

Jemisin is a master of indirection. In the bewildering world of Sky the layers of falsehoods are many, religion is a political tool, secrets are buried in the glowing palace halls and even in flesh itself. If you love a mystery, this sparkling tale delivers with divine power.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

6 commentaires:

Todd said...

Great review! I am wanting to read both authors' work...but I need to scrape up the cash for Kay's series still. I've been enjoying buying hardcovers over softcover lately and that tends to get expensive :) But Bright of the Sky is definitely at the top of my list. I've heard the worldbuilding is fantastic!

Anyways, been enjoying these guest reviews...nice job all!

Anonymous said...

Inheritance trilogy? ... wasn't that like Paolini or something?

Cecrow said...

Yeah, I thought "Inheritance Trilogy" was taken too.

About the free Amazon downloads, I'm curious how that works from Ken's perspective. How does he get compensated if they're just giving his book away?

Anonymous said...

I 'bought' into this hype as well, but had to return the book after reading it. I was expecting a whole lot more political scheming (with one hundred thousand kingdoms etc), but this book is in fact just a love story. No matter what problem she runs in to, she just winks here eye lashes and has one of the gods rescue her (talking about 'deus ex macina'). The world building might be good, but character-wise it is totally not believable (yeine (sp?) is a dreadful combination of 'egwene' and 'elayne', not something I actually want to read!)

- Lord of Lannister

Kay Kenyon said...


The free Kindle version of Bright of the Sky serves as an introduction to the series. I don't earn anything on that free version, but if readers like it, they may buy Book 2 and so on.


Anonymous said...

I buy many books each year and it can amount to a lot of money, especially for new books. I first picked up Kay's books at my local library. Your library is a great resource for discovering writers...and if you don't like the book you can just return it.

After reading the first two books in the series I patiently waited for her next releases and bought them at the bookstore so I didn't have to wait for them to show up at the library.

So don't let an empty wallet stop you from discovering good science fiction and fantasy...your local library is full of this genre.