Unusual new fantasy series by wrobins1 [WorldCat.org]
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The hundred thousand kingdoms

by N K Jemisin

  Print book : Fiction  |  First edition

Unusual new fantasy series   (2010-04-12)

Very Good

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by wrobins1

Jemisin, N.K., Jr. ~ Hundred Thousand Kingdoms ~ Orbit, 2010 ~ 29 chapters + Appendix, 527 pages ~ Audience: Adults, some teens ~ Rating: Very Good.


“I am not as I once was. They have done this to me, broke me open and torn out my heart. I do not know who I am anymore. I must try to remember.”

Publication History:

This is the first volume in the “Inheritance Trilogy.” The second volume will be The Broken Kingdoms.


While there is some mention of the various kingdoms, nearly all of the story takes place in the palace Sky floating above the city of Sky where the Arameri rule, with the help of the all-powerful god Itempas and the magical powers he has given them after winning the Gods' War. The setting receives some description so we know that it is a place of magic itself. Still, the setting is relatively unimportant except as a small stage for the interactions that take place among the major characters.

Descriptive writing is clear and the setting is easily understood, but somewhat hard to visualize.


Yeine, 19 years old, is the granddaughter of the ruler of all the kingdoms. Her mother married and left the palace in some disgrace when she married for love rather than as directed. Yeine, as her mother before her, has essentially been disinherited by the Arameri. Surprisingly, her grandfather [the all powerful ruler] has summoned her to the palace. She is to compete for the honor of becoming THE ruler. She must compete with his niece and nephew -- her cousins. Scimina, the niece, is crafty and will do whatever is needed to become the heir and eliminate any rivals. Traditionally, the heir is the only one who survives a fierce fight without quarter.

The second major thread deals with the gods. A fairly complex history of their creation, battles, and abilities is woven into the story. To simplify, one god has defeated the others and placed them under the control of the ruler of the Arameri who may use them cruelly and casually. Yeine immediately becomes involved in the struggle of the defeated gods to become independent of the Arameri and Itempas.


Dekarta is the ruler. He may have been responsible for the death of Yeine's mother. Yeine is an independent, thoughtful, and good person. She has no interest in being heir. However, she does want to stay alive. Nahadoth, the Nightlord, is a powerful, destructive god under the control of Scimina. Sieh looks like a boy, but he too is a god with his own powers. He is the trickster. These two defeated gods will play a major role in the story, including a dramatic impact on Yeine. It appears that they have an agenda of their own that could help or doom Yeine.

Yeine is both a simple and complex character. She is simple in her straight-forward attempt to stay alive and do the right thing. She is complex in her family's history and her interactions with the defeated gods and the all-powerful Itempas.

Physical Book:

White space is average and print is reasonably large and dark for a trade paper edition. See-through is average. An overview map of the 100,000 kingdoms would be a nice touch.  Jacket art by Cliff Nielsen Stawicki shows the palace Sky and the eye of a god. It is dramatic and appealing. The back matter contains a glossary of terms, clarification of terms, historical record, and an author interview.


While the history of the gods and the Gods' War adds complexity to the story, thoughtful reading, and a bit of rereading, will bring clarity to the plot and the purpose of the god characters. The story is of reasonable length. The setting and the interactions between the defeated gods and others is unusual and notably different from the usual fantasy. There is a romantic, but sometimes violent and sexual, relationship involving Yeine. The story itself had many dark moments and is serious. There is little humor. Still, an unusually strong heroine and a strange but interesting environment should have considerable appeal, especially to readers looking for something different in a fantasy story. Jemisin writes well and has done quite a good job with the religious history and culture.

A good choice for larger fantasy collections. Note that the author and book have received considerable praise from a variety of reviewers.

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