Fantasy Book of the Month June 2011: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jemisin

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Hobbit, May 31, 2011.

  1. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    A recent publication, this one, first published in 2010.

    [​IMG]

    It is the first volume in the Inheritance Trilogy.

    Discuss!

    Mark
     
  2. ColdSun

    ColdSun The Enigmatic Paradox

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    I've had this on my list for a while. I guess I will move it to the top. :) Be back after the read.
     
  3. Haliax

    Haliax Registered User

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    I really enjoyed this book. It's been awhile since I read it, and a re-read is probably not going to happen in the next little while, but I'll go based off of what I remember.

    I found the writing style to be slightly off putting at first, but it didn't take long to grow on me. I know that there are comments on amazon that really didn't like how Jemisin broke up paragraphs, but I thought it worked quite well. I think that if this bothered you though, it could really ruin the book for you.

    I also enjoyed most of the characters. While Yeine herself sometimes grated on me, I found the other characters well done. I also found myself really warming to Yeine by the end of the book. I really enjoyed her narrative voice. I found the history of the world interesting, especially the conflict between the three gods Itempas, Nahadoth, and Enefa and how that directly effected how things are now. The idea of gods being enslaved is an interesting one, and I think Jemisin really made it work. The godlings, and especially Sieh, really earned my sympathies by the end.

    I found the whole political aspect of the book a little overplayed. It never really captured my interest, and her two competitors (their names escape me right now) never really resonated with me, outside of the one scene with the girl having Sieh tortured. That one managed to strike a cord. Outside of that, I found some of the sex scenes a bit torturous. Maybe its just me, but I found them borderline cringe worthy.

    Overall though, a great read for me. I can understand people not enjoying it though, especially if the writing style didn't tweak your interest. I thought it was an easy read, and overall rather predictable, but that didn't hurt its value at all for me. I thought the ending was great. And if you enjoyed this book, I thought The Broken Kingdoms was even better. There is a new main protagonist, who I thought was quite well written and intriguing.
     
  4. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    I've only read the first chapter at this point, but I think slightly is putting it mildly. It's bloated, very informal and wishy-washy, almost patronising and the structure leaves a lot to be desired. The author broke away from one sentence, added a paragraph which added absolutely nothing to that particular moment, and then went back into it.

    Has she not heard of footnotes? They'd clear up the paragraphs so much more.
     
  5. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    I enjoyed this one a lot when I read it last year. I liked the gods/and humans dichotomy and thought the feel of the novel was pretty powerful.

    I was disappointed to see this NOT get the Nebula. I haven't read the subsequent novels as of yet.
     
  6. Contrarius

    Contrarius You talkin' to me??

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    I'm ashamed to admit that I started this book last week, then got distracted and went on to other books. I guess it just hasn't grabbed me, at least not yet.

    I did like the author's digressions, though. To me, it sounds more like somebody sitting there telling you a story. So I don't mind that part. I think I'm mostly just a bit tired of young-person-unexpectedly-destined-to-inherit-throne/power/everything books.

    I'll try to get back to this in the next week or two...
     
  7. Luke_B

    Luke_B Diamond Dog Staff Member

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    I thoroughly disagree. I found the writing superb; very conversational and engaging. When I read this earlier in the year, I felt that the unique, stream of consciousness writing was one of the things that made it stand out.
     
  8. Haliax

    Haliax Registered User

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    I hate footnotes.

    I understand complaints on breaking away from sentences, but the purpose behind that becomes clear as the book goes on. But I did not find it bloated in any sense.

    I think I ended up enjoying the book so much because she went a different direction than is typical in a fantasy book, in terms of style. I found it new and refreshing, but like I said, I did take time to adjust so maybe it'll get better for you as well. But it seems to me you are less receptive to it than I was, so I have my doubts.
     
  9. JustaStaffer

    JustaStaffer Registered User

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    I'm definitely more in this camp. I thought it was well done. Jemisin used they structure and style to make it feel really intimate.

    I also liked the fact that even though there are sequels out, I don't necessarily feel the need to jump into them. It's a very self contained novel that leaves the opportunity for further exploration, but also wraps up the narrative perfectly on its own.

    HTK is a really good example to me of modern fantasy (modern in a literary sense, not chronological).
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2011
  10. Paks

    Paks Registered User

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    I've started reading this one, I have had the ebook for a while and figured I should finally start it. I am only several chapters into it so far but I have pretty well got the hang of her style. The story has managed to grip me for now so it will be interesting to see where it leads.
     
  11. Carlyle Clark

    Carlyle Clark Registered User

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    I also loved her writing style and it was because it was informal. To me, first person not written informally almost wastes the point of making it first person. If you are not going to engage me personal, then use the all the advantage of third person to engage me that way.

    The thing I enjoyed most about HTK is that she did in one book what I hear a lot of authors claim they are going to do in the courses of their series: not follow the standard tropes while initially appearing to.

    Also the otherness of the Gods in the book as well as their relationships with each other was portrayed very well, especially Sieh. I think the political stuff, which is front and center in so many fantasies, was meant to be in the background, basically just a Macguffin that forces Yeine to move rapidly and desperately.
     
  12. Siberian

    Siberian Too many books to read...

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    I finished this book fairly quickly and enjoyed it quite a bit. I think N. K. Jemisin is a promising new author with great imagination.

    I really liked the solid worldbuilding:from cosmogony to the UN - like setup of the world (except with the one absolute source of power). Yes, it's a classical order vs. chaos (or day vs. night) setup but with a twist. The plot was gripping. I'm usually the one to come up with several possible scenarios of events as I read, but Jemisin managed to catch me by surprise a few times.

    Now, it wasn't without a few bumps, especially with the writing style. I got used to it pretty quickly and didn't mind digressions per se, but still felt they could have been less jarring. I was also annoyed with Yeine's passivity at times. She was supposed to be a ruthless leader of her people and yet she allowed her cousin to do whatever she wanted. They were both full bloods, couldn't she countermand her orders?

    All in all, a solid debut that can be read as a standalone since the next book features a different protagonist.
     
  13. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

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    I must admit, at first I was put off by the writing. I wasn't really digging the way the narrator jumped around. However, once the story got going, I began to understand why it was written the way it did, and once I understood, I loved it.

    The way Jemisin structured the book was well done. Once I figured out that the ethereal conversation bit was because the main character was dead and talking to the bit of the god's soul that was inside of her, I really got into the book. I wanted to know why she was dead and how she was going to continue.

    I really enjoyed this book. I thought that the way the gods were portrayed was fantastic.

    This was a very quick read for me. Two days of reading and I was done. The ending surprised me a bit. I knew something along those lines was going to happen, but not what actually did.


    I thought that it worked well for Yeine. While she was a full blood, she really did not understand everything that was going on. She was a barbarian from the north and was a complete fish out of water. I liked that she just laid low and observed. When she did try to do something, something that she thought would help her people, all she got was a war and the threatened annihilation of her people. Also, she had the gods on her side. She had a part of a god inside of her. She was putting her faith in that, something I actually admired about her.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  14. Siberian

    Siberian Too many books to read...

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    Which would have happened anyway. At least she fought in this case.

    She should have at least thought about some options.
     
  15. starry-eyed

    starry-eyed And sleep deprived...

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    Overall, I would consider HTK a powerful first novel. I enjoyed the stream of consciousness writing style, finding it created a tension and perspective well suited to the plot. Jemisin's greatest strength was her portrayal of internal family politics. The first person POV allowed us to experience Yeine's emotions as she becomes immersed in a hopeless situation. The petty vindictiveness and cruelty of family members towards the one they deem deficient was vividly wrought. Another little gem: Yeine's understanding of her mother transforms from fairytale simplicity to a deeper, darker awareness an underlying ruthlessness. Really added some depth to the story and was tied in well with the plot.

    Overall plot development and timing were weaker elements. The storyline felt as if it were sometimes pausing and resting, then gathering steam, then rushing to its conclusion. This, in itself, is fine, but here the change ups felt clumsy and off. The external world building where we might have been exposed to more about the land and the peoples was sadly absent. To be fair, they weren't needed to tell this story, but I missed them just the same.


    Full disclosure: I read this novel a year ago and tried to skim it over so I could finally get back start participating in this book club again. It's clearly been a long time, since it took me forever to find the link to this thread.
     
  16. Paks

    Paks Registered User

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    I think you summed this up pretty well, I don't really have anything to add! It was a good read and I liked the ending (it reminded me a little of The Tidelords by Jennifer Fallon). I will definitely read the second novel as I am keen to see what happens with Itempas.
     
  17. Haliax

    Haliax Registered User

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    I found the second one even better, largely because of what does happen with Itempas. It is quite interesting, and the whole relationship between humans and gods is expanded even further.
     
  18. Paks

    Paks Registered User

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    That's great to know :) I have it already on my bookshelf but I have so many books to read at the moment, I'm not sure when I'll to it.
     
  19. Nikita42

    Nikita42 Registered User

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    Just finished reading this last night.

    I didn't find that the first person perspective bothered me. I actually found it what pulled me through to continue reading. It made sense, it was like someone relating a story and losing train of thought or missing important details that need to be returned to.

    I think the gods were great characters and well fleshed out. Sieh and Nahadoth being some of my favourite characters in the book.

    As for original? I'm not so sure, how many books are out there that have the same plot? The young, naive barbarian with a destiny that will lead them to rule all.

    I think as a first novel, this author did amazing work. I plan to read the next book in the series and even if it's half as good as this first book, it will still be worth reading.
     
  20. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

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    While I agree that the over all plot wasn't particularly original, but I did think the world she created had some original elements. While she used archetypal gods, I felt their situation was interesting. The manner in which Yeine gained her apotheosis was new, at least, for me it was. I bought the second book today, and will be reading it soon.