The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

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.

N.K. Jemisin’s debut adult fantasy novel drew me in right from those first few lines. Here was a voice so incredibly strong and compelling; a voice that immediately evokes a mythologically epic feel. A voice that isn’t burdened by too much flowery writing, and yet is at times beautifully lyrical.

This is a world of gods and mortals. A world vividly imagined.

And can we just take a second to talk about the absolutely GORGEOUS cover? It was the main reason I picked up the book. That cover is absolutely striking, and just screams epic. It also hints at the dark tones that underlie the entire novel.

The story follows 19 year old Yeine Darr, an outcast from the barbarian north. Summoned to the beautiful city of Sky—a city up in the clouds, suspended there by a thin pillar—Yeine finds herself an unwilling participant in a vicious and deadly power struggle. Because it is there that she is named a potential heiress to her estranged Arameri grandfather as ruler of the world. Now Yeine has no choice but to compete with two cousins for power she doesn’t even want. And the city of Sky holds many other secrets: strange rooms, hobbled gods, and her family’s blood-stained history.

Seeking the truth behind her mother’s passing and surviving the battle with the other heirs for Arameri rulership are not the only things Yeine has to worry about. Because she has also caught the attention of the Enefadeh: four gods who are the Arameri’s slaves.

Now, not only is Yeine’s life in danger, but the fate of the world hangs in the balance—even the fate of the gods. Gods who plan to use Yeine for their own purposes. Gods who can easily level mountains and destroy whole armies, but instead act as playthings to the Arameri.

This isn’t epic fantasy in the usual sense—you won’t see hordes of great armies clashing together. There aren’t multiple perspectives from multiple characters. Everything is from the point of view of Yeine, and the story centers around her, her family, and the gods. But it IS most certainly epic in feel, regardless of the lack of armies battling. This is a smart, unpredictable fantasy with a very distinctive voice.

The gods themselves are wonderfully complex characters—they’re capricious, confusing, powerful (even when powerless), and terrifying. But they also have very human qualities, and there’s a constant juxtaposition of their otherworldly godliness contrasted with their humanistic traits. Nahadoth, the Lord of Night, is no easy character to understand. Even Sieh, a god in a child’s body, is not easy to understand (but he certainly was my favourite character).

And what’s a story of family and gods and hate without a little bit of love? I loved that the romantic arc is different; it doesn’t feel forced or cliche, and it doesn’t take over the entire story.

Overall, this is a contemplative fantasy with a strong heroine, secrets, political intrigue, and love. With fantastic, well-thought out world-building, this is one title you shouldn’t miss if you love to read fantasy. It’s a fantastic adult fantasy that YA fantasy readers will enjoy.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is definitely a must-read!

And to keep in the vein of awesome adult fantasy that deals with estranged/evil family members, I’m giving away a copy of Among Others by Jo Walton!

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36 Responses to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

  1. Katelyn Larson Feb 13 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Well, Vanessa, you definitely made me want to read that book. Like big time. It’s going on my to-read list for sure 😉

  2. Gina Rinelli Feb 13 2012 at 10:13 am #

    I read this book, and I was seriously impressed. I kept forgetting Yeine was 19 though, she was so clever and snarky at times. I can’t wait to read the next one, it’s in TBR pile.

    But, LOVED Among Others. That book completely blew me away, and I didn’t expect it at all. If you haven’t read AO, do it!!!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 13 2012 at 10:42 am #

      Yeine’s voice is definitely very mature and clever – but it’s one of the reasons I loved it so much. I’m trying to resist running to the nearest bookstore to grab the 2nd book, because my TBR pile is so massive – but oh, how I’m tempted!

      And I actually haven’t read AMONG OTHERS yet – it’s sitting near the top of my TBR pile at home. But a lot of people I know absolutely LOVE that book. My hope is that I’ll be able to get to it this month!

  3. Alyssa Feb 13 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I’m a big fan of strong heroines (of course!) and fantasy that’s different from the run-of-the-mill, so I will most definitely have to pick this one up! I’ve added it to my to-read pile. 🙂

  4. Priscilla Shay Feb 13 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    The cover is beautiful and I definitely want to read this. But, like you said my TBR pile is huge right now. I’ll keep it in mind though!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 13 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      Definitely do keep it in mind! It’s absolutely fantastic! It was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down.

  5. Hannah F-S Feb 13 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms sounds really interesting. I’m not always a fan of books with multiple voices so a fantasy novel that has just one sounds right up my alley.
    And how have I never heard of Among Others?

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 13 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is SO GOOD! I really do hope you pick it up.

      And AMONG OTHERS is coming out in paperback this month, so hopefully it shows up on more people’s radars. I’ve ONLY heard great things about it – people LOVE it!

  6. Krispy Feb 13 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Like you said, the world-building is fantastic and I loved the complexity of the gods. And yes, much about this book is epic. I also appreciated how different and diverse the story-world was. I actually had mixed feelings about this book, but I do think it’s worth a read.

    Have you read the sequels to this yet?

    Thanks for this review and giveaway! I’m totally intrigued by AMONG OTHERS!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 13 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      I haven’t read the sequels yet – I’m trying not to run out and buy them, because my TBR pile at home is a bit on the large side. But I will soon, I think! Did you like them more, or less than THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS?

      And I was hoping to pique people’s interests in AMONG OTHERS! 😀

      • Krispy Feb 13 2012 at 2:59 pm #

        I actually haven’t read the sequels yet! I started Book 2, THE BROKEN KINGDOMS, but I had to return it to the library before I got very far! I’m going to pick it up again once I get a few other library books finished. Haha. The TBR pile is always overwhelming! But I’m probably going to try to get AMONG OTHERS as well. 😛

        • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 13 2012 at 4:31 pm #

          THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS worked as a great stand-alone book that I’m actually curious to see how the other 2 books continue the story.

          I wish there was more time in the day so that I could fit more reading in! And every time my TBR pile starts to dwindle, I end up getting tons of ARCs at work and then my TBR pile grows massive again! I suppose I can’t complain, though – it’s better than not having ANYTHING to read!

          And I hope you do pick up AMONG OTHERS! 😀

  7. Rika Ashton Feb 13 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Wow, this sounds amazing! I’m so glad I checked my email before I went shopping today, I’m grabbing a copy of this from Chapters before I come home.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 13 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      Woohoo! You’ve got to let me know what you think once you’ve finished it!

  8. Tim Feb 13 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    I’ve heard some incredible things about this book. Like it has been a lurkin’ on my wishlist for a long time. Hmmmmmmm I should probably buy it…but I recently found a second hand bookstore. Fantasy books for 4 euro. Good lord it’s a temptation.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 13 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      Tim, you should DEFINITELY pick it up!

      And oh my – I would spend SO MUCH MONEY there if I were you! 😛

  9. Hannah Feb 13 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    This book sounds super interesting!

  10. Zara Alexis Feb 13 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    I just read the description of “Among Others” on Chapters-Indigo and I’m excited! It sounds like a beautiful piece of writing that includes fantasy and magic! I look forward to reading this. On my BTR List!

    Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez
    On Twitter: @ZaraAlexis

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 14 2012 at 9:55 pm #

      I love how different AMONG OTHERS is, in that the story takes place AFTER the battle with her mom. So glad it’s on your TBR list now! 🙂

  11. Kara Feb 13 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    I want to read this book based on the cover alone. It looks incredible! Any book that reminds me of The 10th Kingdom (TV mini-series) is one that I want to read!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 14 2012 at 9:57 pm #

      The cover is what made me first buy it! As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. And what was inside was just as beautiful and eerie and epic as what was on the cover 🙂 I love when that happens!

  12. Sooz Feb 14 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Oh, I loved this book! It was such a unique spin on epic fantasy. And it had this sort of…sinister? ethereal? aura to it that worked so well with the plot and characters.

  13. Sally L Feb 17 2012 at 4:11 am #

    Ooh, I’m intrigued 🙂

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 19 2012 at 11:57 pm #

      Huzzah! I’m glad 😉 Hopefully intrigued enough to want to pick it up and read it?

  14. Desiree Feb 17 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Sounds like an amazing book. The cover looks amazing!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 19 2012 at 11:57 pm #

      I can’t get over how much I absolutely ADORE that cover! And the book is incredible!

  15. MarielLouise Cunanan Feb 18 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    The books sounds great! The cover is just.. wow. It’s a very unique book and I really want to read it. Thanks for the amazing review and giveaway! Added this to my to read on Goodreads 🙂

  16. Jessica @ Book Sake Feb 19 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    I love the sound of this one…definitely love that it’s from one perspective as well. That’s new in epic fantasies!
    – Jessica @ Book Sake

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 19 2012 at 11:58 pm #

      I hope you do get a chance to pick it up and read it – it’s seriously fantastic!

  17. Gabi Feb 19 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    I love the cover! Although I don’t know if I’d want to live in a city suspended in the sky. I might be just a tad bit afraid. :] But for a book it makes an intriguing setting!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio Feb 20 2012 at 12:00 am #

      Hahaha! I definitely agree – and Yeine isn’t particularly a fan of the floating city, either.

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