Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1) by N.K. Jemisin * * * *

I’ve been in a reading slump these past weeks. I’ve started books, but I didn’t feel that I wanted to immerse myself in them. However, yesterday I wanted to read a bit in the bath, so I took out my wishlist on Goodreads, and had a look at what I had put on there. That’s when I decided to go for this book. Yes, you read it right, this was yesterday.

I couldn’t stop reading. At first, the story was a bit confusing. Of course, nowadays fantasy books don’t start out the way my LotR copy does, with 20 pages of explaining the world. You have to gradually learn what’s going on. This gives the reader the sense of discovery, of exploration, which can be a good thing. However, if not done well, it only gets very confusing for the first couple of chapters, and sometimes so much, it can get frustrating. This wasn’t the case here, though I was a bit confused in some places at first. The world itself in a way is kind of simple, but smart in that way. Some people build very complex worlds, but if you think about it, too many layers of government, or complex magic systems can be annoying and hard to read. Especially because the government really was a side story.

The real story runs on two lines, and this even gets the main character, Yeine confused sometimes. Though not the reader, but she is quite overwhelmed. The story takes place in the span of two weeks. It’s written as a sort of memoir, Yeine tells her own story. This does bring her closer to the reader, and also gives the author a good tool to inject the background into the story, as Yeine assumes we’re outsiders to her world. Both stories are interesting, even though one mystery comes to an abrupt conclusion, almost an afterthought. I kind of wished that was flashed out more, but then the time limit of two weeks wouldn’t have been enough.

Yeine, as I have mentioned is the main character. Of course, anyone who has read a short bio of the author knows she’s a feminist. She brings that into Yeine’s background in an interesting way. She’s been brought up in a matriarchal society, while the majority of the world seems more patriarchal. However, no one bats an eye at the thought of the head of the family being a woman, so in that way society is overall more forward thinking than the general mediaeval-like worlds in fantasy. I do wish though that she would have had more opportunities to take action, because I did like the things she tried to do. However, in the end, she is really just swept up in the story, flailing around in the current, trying to hold onto a log. I’m not saying I didn’t like her. She was a nice young woman, and she did try her best. I just wish she had more opportunities for action.

There are many characters in this story, but I think this isn’t more about the characters, but rather the ideas of love, jealousy, strife and balance. It takes the reader on a journey to explore these themes in a modern way. It actually reminds me of a jdrama I have recently watched, where each character was trying to find one kind of happiness, but ended up re-evaluating what happiness actually was. One of the main characters, I don’t want to spoil it too much, but you’ll probably know whom I mean once you’ve read it, really should take a deeper look into all four. It is very hard to give a good, thorough review of this book, because I felt that this book isn’t just understood on an intellectual level, but a deeper, emotional level. That is the realm of the individual, and therefore everyone will probably take something different out of it.

As a side note, there is a small love story in the book. It’s not too central to bother me, but there enough for my enjoyment. It feels a bit insta-love, but not really. So if you think it is, then please, re-examine your position.

Overall, very good book. The world is complex enough to be intriguing, but not so much to be confusing. The characters are likeable, though I could have hated some of the evil ones more. It really doesn’t feel like most fantasy that I’ve read, but not so far out there to not be enjoyable. I really felt like the heroine, being swept along, and almost surprised myself when the ending was suddenly there. I highly recommend it. Not just for women.

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