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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
N.K. Jemisin
Orbit, 432 pages

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
N.K. Jemisin
N. K. (Nora) Jemisin is a writer currently living in New York City (Brooklyn, specifically). She has a number of short stories published with markets such as Strange Horizions, Baen's Universe, Postscripts, Clarkesworld, and more, and her fiction has received Honorable Mentions in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror twice. She's the 2004 recipient of the Speculative Literature Foundation's Gulliver Travel Grant, which she used to do novel research in Canyon de Chelly, in the Navajo nation. She is a member of the Altered Fluid writing group, and a 2002 graduate of Viable Paradise. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is her first novel.

N.K. Jemisin Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jason Erik Lundberg

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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the first book in The Inheritance Trilogy, and it is a stunner. Yeine Darr, our heroine and narrator, is the mixed-race chieftain of her homeland in the north. After her mother dies unexpectedly, Yeine is summoned to the imperial capital by her grandfather Dekarta, the king of the Arameri Empire which rules the eponymous hundred thousand kingdoms of the known world. Once there, she is shocked to discover that she has been named as heir to the throne, along with two manipulative cousins who are none too happy about a barbarian woman competing for the throne of the world.

As the machinations on her life begin, Yeine is also introduced to the enslaved living gods whose magic the Arameri are able to control and, therefore, rule the world by force. Nahadoth, the Nightlord and one corner of the tripartite godhead that created the universe, takes an obsessive interest in her, one she is warned could consume her utterly. As she unearths the truth behind her mother's death, and the reasons for her sudden ascension in Arameri high society, Yeine also discovers the story behind the forced bondage of Nahadoth and his godling offspring. Caught up in a conspiracy encompassing both the mortal and supernatural realms, Yeine must survive by her wits and her bravery in order to avoid a messy death by all concerned.

N.K. Jemisin has created a wildly original secondary world in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and populated it with fascinating characters. Yeine is immediately endeared to the reader through her feisty independence, her inner strength, her eroticism, and her adaptability. Jemisin tosses her into the narrative deep end on page one, and sends her careening through the rest of the novel to fight for her life. That Yeine is able to meet the many challenges put in her path, and to do so in the face of insurmountable odds, makes the reader root for her all the more, even when a fatal end seems inevitable.

Jemisin's prose also sings with the lyrical and sensual, such as this passage during an early meeting between Yeine and Nahadoth:

  I wanted him. To entice him. To control him. I saw myself naked on the green grass, my arms and legs wrapped around Nahadoth as he shuddered upon me, trapped and helpless in the pleasure of my flesh. Mine. I saw myself caress his midnight hair, and look up to meet my own eyes, and smile in smug, possessive satisfaction.
—p. 118
 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is an incredible debut by a truly talented author, full of danger, sensuality, and wonder. The end of the novel comes far too soon, a testament to both the story and the writing. N.K. Jemisin has created a fully-realized and entirely plausible secondary world, and a protagonist compelling in both her strength and vulnerability.

(Full disclosure: I published N.K. Jemisin's short story "L'Alchimista" in the Two Cranes Press anthology Scattered, Covered, Smothered.)

Copyright © 2010 Jason Erik Lundberg

Jason Erik Lundberg is a writer of fantastical fiction, and an American expatriate living in Singapore. His work has appeared (or will soon) in over forty venues in five countries. He runs Two Cranes Press with Janet Chui. Visit his web site.


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