- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
N.K. Jemisin is yet another debut novelist with a Hugo nomination, for the first book in her “Inheritance Trilogy” titled The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Her protagonist, Yeine, is the chieftain of her tribe and a warrior of her people, but her mother was once the princess of an empire that dominates the entire world, disowned (and perhaps assassinated) for her crime of marrying an outsider. After her mother’s death, her Grandfather, absolute ruler of the world and the direct servant of a very real God, summons her to his strange and magical palace called “Sky.”
It sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? But it’s not. This is a book with serious stakes, serious politics, and a seriously out-of-her-depth main character, struggling to make sense of her new world where some gods are slaves and a sort of diabolic righteousness is perceived as the greatest virtue one can possess. Yeine is thrust into the center of the Empire’s power struggles, and the power struggles of the gods themselves, as well. She must find allies among the weak and dominated, she must survive the dangers of Sky, learn the truth of her inheritance and the nature of her world’s theological struggles, and she must do it all very, very quickly.
It’s a fast-paced story, but the tension is primarily political rather than action-driven. It’s a story that doesn’t shy away from sex, which is nice, and a story where the protagonist is a female Person of Color, which is nicer. There is a romance plot that at times verges on the precious (Minor Spoiler: Zl Qnex Ybeq Oblsevraq vf frkvre guna lbhef!), but that doesn’t detract from the book terribly much and it might not have bothered me at all if the nature of it hadn’t been mentioned to me before I read it. I enjoyed the book, recommend it, and am glad it got a Hugo Nomination.