I just finished reading N K Jemisin's third Kingdoms novel, The Kingdom of Gods, and I have to say the book blew me away. The first two were fantastic, but this one was amazing right from the start, and only got more incredible as it approached the series finale.
And above and beyond the excellent writing, exciting plot and genuine emotional resonance, Jemisin pulled off a neat authorial trick I cannot recall having seen before. She foreshadowed an event such that I was able to gather the clues and figure it out. Then convinced me I was wrong, which depressed me. Then sucker-punched me in the gut when I found out I was right after all. Sneaky, sneaky woman.
The series has a certain tone that I think some would consider the hallmark of a female author, namely a more emotional, less physical interpretation of love, but it veers more toward the spiritual than "romance novel-esque" silliness. For me it was a refreshing positive, and it worked well with the fact that many of her characters are gods and therefore the physical is more...mutable...than in most stories.
Speaking of gods, it's always a tricky thing to use them as characters. Combining the power over reality we expect when using the term, with vulnerabilities that can make them relatable to human readers is tough, with many authors making them either too alien or too human.
Jemisin does a fantastic job of creating gods that are both more powerful than we can imagine, and yet at the same time as vulnerable as any of us, and I appreciated that immensely. I've always loved stories about divinities.
Regarding The Kingdom of the Gods itself:
There were so many great things about the novel, it's hard to find a place to begin, but I think almost all of it is founded on the characterization of Sieh. His longing, the fact he can't forgive Itempas, the fact that he's blind to his own weaknesses and sometimes cruel, makes him such an amazing character. It was fascinating to see him vacillate between his child-persona and his godlike viewpoint, and recognize the ways he does and doesn't understand himself.
The parallels between Naha, Tempa, and Yeine with Sieh, Shahar, and Deka were apparent fairly early-on, and if one didn't pick up on it right away, the second time they exhibited power over reality to heal Sieh it seemed downright obvious. But somehow Jemisin managed to convince me it wasn't meant to be, first as Sieh continued to grow closer and closer to death, and then when he does die, killing Kahl in what was to me a complete blindside (how could I forget the dagger Tempa had given him, when he offered his life for Sieh's forgiveness?)
Silly me, forgetting how meaningless the concept of death is for a god, and that the book kept telling me that despite his mortality, Sieh was still a god. At the very end, I couldn't stop smiling.
What an amazing ride. I have her next 2 books on my Nook right now, and it's going to be hard not to read them immediately, even though I need to save them for a trip I'm taking in a month or two.