Book Reviews

[Review] N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms

When I first picked up The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, I did so with the intention of reading the entire Inheritance trilogy. I am a woman of color who had never been exposed to fantasy/sci-fi authors of color, and this one came with recommendations. You learn to appreciate these things.

N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms takes place ten years after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, when godlings are once again allowed to roam the planet. Following up from the first book, we meet a blind painter named Oree Shoth, who only knows that Bright Itempas has allowed other gods to be worshiped instead of just him. Oree has the unique ability to see magic, and creates beautiful images in the secrecy of her own home whilst selling gaudy knickknacks to pay the bills. In the ten years since the godlings appeared, Oree has learned to adjust. That is, until someone starts murdering godlings, and Oree gains a roommate in one who won’t stay dead. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all he can do.

Still working on these summaries.

I begin this review with a criticism I had withheld from the last: This series needs a map/floorplan/some type of diagram that let’s me know where we are in relation to other places. It’s interesting, really; nobody cares about maps in your run-of-the-mill action, horror, or drama stories. However, the minute you start talking magic, we have to break out maps because there is guaranteed to be some type of traveling going on. I don’t know if this is also a science fiction thing, but I would assume it would be helpful if the story only took place on one planet. That being said, a map of the world or a diagram of Sky (the palace or the city) could only help this story. The story is not crippled by a lack of it, but it would be amazingly helpful.

When I first ordered this book in particular, I read some of the comments on Amazon. Someone had an issue with the predictability of the romance. Personally, I didn’t predict it. It’s a teensy bit off-putting when you really consider everything that goes on within the novel, but you don’t really expect the outcome. I really applaud Jemisin on that part, because it’s obvious how it’s going to go, but you still don’t expect it. Or, I didn’t expect it. This story broke my heart a bit.

I like that we revisit a lot of the things talked about in the first book. We catch up with quite a few characters that were introduced to us, as well as one who has started a new life entirely. A lot of the “facts” laid out for us in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms are now called into question. I especially like that we get to look at Sky the city, or Shadow, as it’s called in the book. I like that the Inheritance trilogy isn’t just about the nobility, and The Broken Kingdoms let’s us see everything from a commoner’s perspective.

Considering the reviews I had read, I had expected to be somewhat let down with this second book. I was absolutely ecstatic to find that I wasn’t. First of all, we get to see a wider range of diversity since just about everyone in the last book was some type of Arameri. We are introduced to a new race of people, who just so happen to be the one’s Nahadoth wiped out during a flashback in the first book (Continuity!). We also get to finally hear why Itempas took issue with Enefa.

In all honesty, I really liked that Jemisin wasn’t afraid to kill off a few people. Maybe George R.R. Martin has spoiled me, but I like knowing that everything isn’t sunshine and roses, and death is always a possibility. Even the top three gods have to watch out sometimes. Also, love makes you do dangerous things, but sex is still just sex, and nothing more.

All in all, I’m going to say that The Broken Kingdoms is the best book in the series so far. It was well written, it kept up the continuity going, and, while some of the reveals were a little bit predictable, every single one of them are incredible. I do not recommend reading this book without having read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms first. You will be ridiculously lost.

Next up: The Kingdom of Gods.

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