Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Broken Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #2) by N.K. Jemisin * * * *

First of all, having read the book, I still don’t really get the title. I mean, if the title has the word “kingdoms” in it, you expect intrigue, politics, conflict, that sort of thing. I’m trying to decipher a hidden meaning, and at the edge of my thoughts there is something that I cannot grasp, but it eludes me. No wonder I had a hard time even remembering the title.

This, however, didn’t mean that the book was bad, it just means that I think the title was a poor choice. I actually enjoyed this book, though perhaps not as much as the first one. The reason for it was the ending. It almost seemed like it had this steady pacing up until a point, when the author realised she was coming up on her word limit, and suddenly tied everything up into this neat little bow. It felt off, but you’ll have to read it to understand it. It was an okay ending, but it was still weird.

Now onto the story itself. This is a sequel of a kind. You still get some of the original characters, but they are mostly on the sidelines, except for one surprising figure. First of all, it’s set 10 years from the events of the last book. This is the story of a young woman, Oree. I’m not giving away too much in that she’s blind. She moves to Sky, which is now called Shadow, where a lot has changed. As she tries to live an unremarkable life, she gets swept up in events that are far beyond her. In fact, for the most part, she is completely overwhelmed by them.

This story was interesting in a couple of ways. One, I’ve never read a book where the main character was blind. Normally I stay away from books set in real life that have disabled people in them. This is due to a family history that I don’t want to go into, but there are painful memories. In this story, as it was set in a fictional universe, the issue of being blind was quite different from the usual, and therefore I could gain enough distance for it to not bother me. I also thought it was handled well, with the disability giving her limitations, but not completely crippling her.
I also found that the story had enough twists that it could surprise me. While it had a similar mystery element like the first one, that was quickly solved and became part of a more overarching problem. This problem tied neatly into an aspect of the universe that was revealed in the previous book.
The main character, through whose “eyes” we see the story was okay. I didn’t really find myself connecting to her as much as I did the previous woman’s. Oree didn’t feel as complex to me as Yeine did, nor as interesting. I still wanted to know what would happen to her, but I did manage to put this book down for several days, while the previous one I ate up like a hungry wolf. She didn’t feel as strong, nor as clever as Yeine. She was a lot simpler, and a lot more content to just stay alive.

Overall, it was a good book, and a good second part. It’s clearly meant to tie into the more overarching story of the Three, and I’m sure the character introduced at the end will have a role in the next book. Still, it lacked a certain feeling that the first book had. It didn’t give you that sense of urgency, of grandness. That, perhaps is why most of all the word “kingdom” bothers me in the title.

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