Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Hundred Thousand Kingdom (Inheritance #1) by N. K. Jemisin

I have mixed feeling with trilogies; they are always tricky to pull off when telling stories, regardless of the medium. Sometimes the second one fails to be a good arc or seems to simply be a trailer for the final volume. Frequently, they can just feel overstretched, as if the writer were made to push the story longer than intended. The charming foibles of characters can become grating, endearing writer’s quirks turn to grating phrases. This is especially true as recently creating trilogies has apparently become the standard, even if the original wasn't a trilogy (*ahem Hobbit*).

N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy starts with the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. We follow Yeine Darr, a young woman and leader from the barbarian north as she is called to Sky, the ruling palace, and named an heir to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. This pushes her into a power struggle with her two cousins, both of whom desire the throne. In the midst of this power struggle are a group of gods who, after losing the Gods’ War, have been made the slaves and pawns of the mortal rulers of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Yeine must find a way to navigate and survive the deadly intrigue and learn more of her families past all as she becomes drawn to the subjugated gods.

The relative straightforward story telling from a single character’s perspective is very well handled and a nice contrast to the multi-view, epic fantasies that seem to be popular as of late. By limiting the perspective, the reveal of the plot and the excellent details of Jemisin’s world building are made all the more exquisite. Yet, the compelling aspect of the Inheritance trilogy is that we are treated to a different, richly complex character for each installment. Not three points of view on a single story, but three separately experienced stories that link together. In this way Jemison creates a pleasing and amazingly well made trilogy.  

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