The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (thoughts)
I can’t tell you why, but although high (or epic) fantasy used to be one of my favourite reading genres, over the years I’ve fallen out of the world-building habit. Last year, I finally revisited the genre with The Bone Doll’s Twin (first in a trilogy), which I loved, but I still didn’t really follow up on exploring any of the new authors. But when Clare tweeted a link to this post of Laura Miller’s (who also authored one of my very favourite books about books ever: The Magician’s Book), I was inspired to request both The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin and the Acacia Trilogy. I began with the Jemisin, simply because I was more in the mood for a woman writer, and was immediately delighted to find myself thrust into a world where gods interacted with mortals! And there’s a child god (a particularly favourite trope of mine)! I made so many squealing noises that when I was about one hundred and fifty pages in, my mom (also a fantasy lover) stole it from me. She’s a quick reader, but she finished it right before my trip to Denver, during which I only took my Nook, so it wasn’t until recently that I actually got to finish the book.
And let me tell you, what a finish it was! I don’t want to give anything away, but as much as I loved the beginning of the book, and as delighted as I was as I learned more about our heroine (who comes from a culture with flipped gender roles in which women are the warriors and leaders: I loved the way the author handles this), nothing compares to my love for the ending. The way all of the plotlines came together, I couldn’t flip the pages quickly enough! And when I did finish, I let out a delighted sigh for the wonderful ride Jemisin had taken me on.
I realise I haven’t actually told you much about the novel. I didn’t know anything going in, and I think that made it more fun (although, as with any high fantasy, the first few chapters can present a challenge to the reader of sorting out an unfamiliar society). But I will tell you that all of the characters vivid and unforgettable, the world was fascinating, and the plot was page-turning. The prose wasn’t the focus of the book, but it didn’t detract from it either. And I particularly liked the narrative style: our heroine is telling the story (just) after it’s happened, and she interrupts herself at times or gets distracted and seems to almost be telling the story as a dialogue with someone else. It’s really fun and adds an extra layer to the story.
In case you can’t tell, I loved this one to bits and pieces. I highly recommend it to everyone, and I already have The Broken Kingdoms (set in the same world but featuring different characters *sigh*) from the library.