Monday, April 19, 2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemison

(In the beginning)
Yeine Darr is named as a possible contender to a throne she has no interest in.

Her mother died. She doesn't know who killed her, or why.

Her cousins want Yeine dead, but find it useful to keep her alive. This is probably a bad sign.

Remember to beware of the staff. 
They are 
1.) Family
2.) gods
3.) Slaves
4.) Very, very dangerous. 
(Including the children.)

Nothing is as it seems. To trust anyone is a surefire way to wind up dead- in extremely cruel ways.

Cruelty is the only way to survive;
if you want to become the kind of person who survives. 

I LOVED the voice of this book. It was a strange stream of consciousness type thing, changing viewpoints all over the place, and I adored it passionately.

Here, have a quote from the opening.
I am not as I once was. They have done this to me, broken me open and torn out my heart. I do not know who I am anymore.

I must try to remember.

My people tell stories of the night I was born. They say my mother crossed her legs in the middle of labor and fought with all her strength not to release me into the world. I was born anyhow, of course; nature cannot be denied. Yet it does not surprise me that she tried.

My mother was an heiress of the Arameri. There was a ball for the lesser nobility — the sort of thing that happens once a decade as a backhanded sop to their self-esteem. My father dared ask my mother to dance; she deigned to consent. I have often wondered what he said and did that night to make her fall in love with him so powerfully, for she eventually abdicated her position to be with him. It is the stuff of great tales, yes? Very romantic. In the tales, such a couple lives happily ever after. The tales do not say what happens when the most powerful family in the world is offended in the process.

But I forget myself. Who was I, again? Ah, yes.

My name is Yeine. In my people’s way I am Yeine dau she Kinneth tai wer Somem kanna Darre, which means that I am the daughter of Kinneth, and that my tribe within the Darre people is called Somem. Tribes mean little to us these days, though before the Gods’ War they were more important.

I am nineteen years old. I also am, or was, the chieftain of my people, called ennu. In the Arameri way, which is the way of the Amn race from whom they originated, I am the Baroness Yeine Darr.

One month after my mother died, I received a message from my grandfather, Dekarta Arameri, inviting me to visit the family seat. Because one does not refuse an invitation from the Arameri, I set forth. It took the better part of three months to travel from the High North continent to Senm, across the Repentance Sea. Despite Darr’s relative poverty, I traveled in style the whole way, first by palanquin and ocean vessel, and finally by chauffeured horse-coach. This was not my choice. The Darre warriors’ council, which rather desperately hoped that I might restore us to the Arameri’s good graces, thought that this extravagance would help. It is well known that Amn respect displays of wealth.

Thus arrayed, I arrived at my destination on the cusp of the winter solstice. And as the driver stopped the coach on a hill outside the city, ostensibly to water the horses but more likely because he was a local and liked to watch foreigners gawk, I got my first glimpse of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ heart.

There is a rose that is famous in High North. (This is not a digression.)

So far, this is sounding like a book which is written expressly to delight me. The characters are lovely, complex and devious, the world building is expansive, and the plot is-

Well the plot is why the book didn't attach its self to my soul and make a nest there, the better to colour all my life choices afterwards. You see, you have about seven eighths of the book that are awesome, and then at the end, everything changes. Most of the characters literally change, the voice of the book changes, and the plot goes from Machiavellian intrigue (cruelty is the way to live, or of course you can die slowly if you want) to Love is all you need! *Happy, sultry music*

And the sultriness. (Uh, yeah. I guess I'm gonna have to put this under a spoiler cut...) So that little scene really freaked me out. Maybe I'm hopelessly provincial, but when the descriptions make me picture the MC being ravished by an octopus, that just spoils the mood entirely. Less Romance, more Ick. An amorphous cloud just doesn't seem attractive to me. In any way. I don't go for jellyfish, OR Ganesh, OR energy-beings. Srysly. OH, and the Free Love aspect. What, is it not possible to love someone WITHOUT sleeping with them? I notice that Parent/Child sex wasn't encouraged, or Brother/Sister, or even Woman/Woman. But as long as one or more of the participants was a (mostly) male god, we're all good?LolWHUT? Those things disturbed me. Just- there are ways to show someone that you trust them, OTHER than sleeping with them. Let's try rock climbing, I hear that's good and fun!

So I gave it three stars out of Five. I still want to read the next book in the series, but I might wait till it hits the library system.


Spartezda said...

Right? Was that not one of the most unsexy sex scenes ever? I was all, "...wait, how many mouths? Celestial planes? I don't--I don't think I want to know what's going on..."

The brother/sister sex (and brother/brother) was fairly well emphasized, I thought, which I kinda liked (it only stands to reason. If there's only two or three of you, in all of existence, what other options are there? Very traditionally godly). But you make an EXcellent point about the lack of female/female sex. I hadn't noticed that till you mentioned it, but now it's like neon lights (I demand more Zhakkarn. Not necessarily in relation to sex. Just her general awesome).

Yeah. So. I'll probably get the second from the library, but I am much more wary now about trusting the author. Hmph.

(seriously, learning to love truly? That redeems random mortal princes, not tyrant gods. Sheesh)

Snazel said...

"Don't picture it, don't picture it, don't picture it, don't picture it..."

Ah, I did notice the divine incest, just not mortal. Or really I just needed more examples to put on my list. Heheheh, and Zhakkarn IS lovely, I agree!

Bahnree said...

This book makes me laugh, just cuz the interwebz has such a love/hate relationship with it. ^_^ And a large amount of people seem to love it, except for the very end. Fascinating.

Snazel said...


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Just the numbers, sir...