Once there were three gods. Now there is only one who matters. Another is dead. The third, imprisoned in a mortal body, serves alongside his children as a slave, bound to obey the commands of the ruling family of Sky. In this ambitiously imagined debut fantasy, theology, like history, has been written by the victors.
The ruler of Sky, having only a short time to live, has two possible successors, his rival twin children. Rather than choose between them, he summons Yeine Darr, his disinherited granddaughter, reinstates her to the succession, and leaves the three of them to battle it out. On the plus side, nineteen-year-old Yeine now shares the family license to command Sky’s leashed gods. But thrust into this likely fatal end game at the last minute, Yeine doesn’t stand much of a chance against her debauched, power-mad cousins.
Yeine, raised to lead in a matriarchal society, is a down-to-earth heroine who acts with both strength and empathy. If you prefer linear storytelling, her tendency to backtrack might throw you off, but Yeine’s narration grabbed me right away—the voice of a strong individual, but with the epic feel of a classic myth or folk tale. Jemisin writes powerfully on both ends of the scale. Many convincing details help to establish this multicultural, multiracial (multi-incarnational?!) world. But the overarching story is big, and I mean Wagnerian: if you enjoy the dangerous genii of the Arabian Nights or the incestuous, dysfunctional families of Greek myth, this fantasy is for you.
And if you like your leading men dark and dangerous, you could do worse than Nahadoth, the menacing god-in-chains who might help Yeine, if he doesn’t kill her. He may be the Lord of Darkness, and you have to weigh the sexiness against the likelihood of death, but it’s hard not to fall for a guy who brings a black hole to a knife fight.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the first of a planned trilogy, but it is also a complete story with a satisfying ending. You can read the first three chapters at the author’s web site.
Check the WRL catalog for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.