The Hundred Thousand Kingdom; or: A Week for Perfect Stories

First, the delightful series that is C.E. Murphy’s The Negotiator, replete with all my favorite themes, and now this.

Jemisin_Hundred-Thousand-Kingdoms-TP

I’ve heard praise for this book coming from a lot of different sort of readers. It was recommended enough times that I’ve even gotten the book out from the library two or three times (there’s always a wait for this one) but I never managed to get around to reading it. It promised to have gods as characters, gods interacting with humans, and while that is one of my favorite things, they were not my gods, and it was not my world, and that made it a tad less appealing, and because it’s more high fantasy, I feared it would be gods among mortals the way it’s sometimes done, where they are remote and just . . . I don’t know. I was afraid to get my hopes up, and so, it never really made it to the top of my list of priorities, even when I had a copy in my home.

Silly. So silly. Because, this book, you guys. THIS BOOK.

Is it perfect? Well, it’s not over, exactly — there’s more in the series, so I suppose there’s room for it to fall apart (I hope it won’t; I doubt it will) and the perfection of the whole series is yet to be seen by me, but this first book on its own? Yeah, it hit all the right places. (There are books on my Perfect Book list that are parts of series whose sequels do not make it onto the list. Darkborn is one such book).

Once, there was a war between the gods. Once, there was a murder, and an enslavement, and now one of the remaining Three is a chained weapon of people who have chosen the other remaining one of the Three over all the other gods that exist — and these people are twisted, cruel, selfish, self-serving.

It’s a curious sort of monotheism that exists when the other gods live in your palace, caged in flesh and mortality and interacting with you.

It’s always refreshing to read what is in essence polytheism done well. In secondary world fantasy, polytheist universes often read as polytheism as seen through a monotheistic mindset — an imagining of what something might be like, although the storyteller cannot possibly believe it could be true. I don’t think this is done intentionally; it simple rarely reads as complete or whole or believable or something — there is always some thing missing that I can’t quite name but leaves an ‘off’ taste in my mouth.

I’m planning a trip for the used bookstore today, and I was planning on getting the Kingkiller books (have read the first, want to reread it, do not want to carry around the hardcover that the library has) if they had them, but I have to admit: if the bookstore has the other books in this series, it’s going to win.

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2 thoughts on “The Hundred Thousand Kingdom; or: A Week for Perfect Stories

  1. I have so many feeling about this book. Polytheism-done-right feelings, but even more deity spouse feelings.

    Nahadoth reminds me of Anubis to an extent that it’s spooky (which I’ve written about on my blog.) I kept looking over at Anubis and raising my eyebrows at him, wondering if he somehow mused this character (the answer I got from him was “maybe,” and a smile.)

    • And this helps me remember why I love stories, new stories, not-our-world stories, more than I love ‘the Lore’ stories. Because I saw different gods in these gods, and neither of us have to be right or wrong, because that’s the magic of story. Nahadoth reminds me a lot of Odin, but also hints of Poseidon (the places where the boundaries between Hades and Poseidon drop away), and I can’t ever see grouping of Big Three deities and *not* think of the Brothers, even when one is female, and so that was fun.

      One of the first books that I found wherein I felt polytheism was done right was the Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold. But then, I adore her writing anyway.

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