The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 21, 2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

The North Reading Group met at the Milwood Library on September 21st to discuss The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N. K. (Nora Keita) Jemisin (Orbit Books, 2010). This was her first novel, #1 of The Inheritance trilogy. The second, The Broken Kingdoms, is due out in November.  The three books are to be related, sequential, but separate stories. She has written several short stories, one of which, “Non-Zero Probabilities,” was nominated for the 2009 Nebula and Hugo awards.  Ten members attended the meeting, and one called in comments.  All had started the book, and all but one finished it.

Comments were mixed. There was some discussion of a “white room” feeling; that generally  speaking more visual descriptions would be beneficial. The dialog was somewhat “internal,” and several readers commented that the ending was inappropriately unexpected. The heroine, Yeine, was somewhat weak according to one member: “I’m a pawn in the game, what shall I do?” Some thought there was too little action; too much going from room to room talking to people. Others remarked that if they wanted romance (or, in this case, lust), they could get it from Harlequin at less expense and the book would have been better off without it. And there was some criticism of the writing style and typical first novel glitches.

On the other hand, nearly everyone liked the setting and believed the author has promise. There were appealing and intriguing differences from typical “epic fantasy” novels. The way that Gods were handled was quite interesting, and the author drew on theology from a really wide variety of cultures. The motivation of one God to appear as a child was intriguing. She clearly understands emotional problems and political intrigue, and can develop complex characters.

In summary, most people enjoyed the book and the consensus would give it a “B.”  Those who read the “teaser” chapter of Broken Kingdoms thought it was not only interesting but considerably more polished than its predecessor.  Several of us plan to give it a try.

After the meeting, we enjoyed dinner at Thai Cuisine, located in the nearby shopping center off Parmer.
—Tom Sciance