N.K. Jemisin is one of my favorite modern fantasy authors. I got to meet her at BEA back in 2012, which is actually where I heard about her work. I also got to see her do a reading at the New York Public Library, and it was incredible beyond words.
I haven’t reread books very often (okay, at all) since starting my blog, but The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was so good that when I heard about the readalong, I couldn’t resist. I’m excited to be able to have a more in-depth discussion of the book with other bloggers, especially as people get to the omg wtf moments that happen later on in the story. In fact, if anyone else is interested, I’d love to have readalong buddies for all three books in the series.
1) We’ve met our narrator, Yeine. What are your first impressions? Do you like the chosen form of story telling so far?
When I say that I love the storytelling, I mean that “storytelling” is probably the best way to describe it. Yeine’s tone is conversational, as if she’s talking directly to the reader, but also as if she’s still trying to make sense of and come to terms with the events that she’s telling you about. She focuses on the main plot, but then intersperses it with lore as she realizes that you won’t understand the story without it. This works better than a big infodump because you know that everything she’s telling you is relevant. Her tone is very conversational, and we can assume that she’s speaking to us after the fact.
2) Yeine essentially has two families – the Darre (her father’s people) and the Arameri (her mother’s people). What do you think of her two halves? Do you think one will win out over the other within Yeine?
Since this is my second time reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, I’m drawn in even more by the lore. The story of the Nightlord, his mortal lover, and the demon children encompasses my thoughts on Yeine’s two halves. Through the two differing morals of the story, we are able to see the contrast between the Darre and the Arameri, and where their focus lies. The Arameri care about power, whereas the Darre care about feelings and humanity.
Ultimately Yeine is going to have to come to terms with being a product of both worlds. The Darre are more civilized, fierce, honorable, and proud. The Arameri are intelligent, cunning, and ruthless. She’s going to need to learn from both cultures to to survive, and she’s going to have to be able to anticipate the Arameri’s moves and beat them at their own game without losing her moral grounding. We can already see through her interactions with the Enefadeh that unlike the Arameri, Yeine has a conscience and believes that every person should be treated with respect. That can be both a strength and a weakness.
3) We meet the Enefa, the enslaved gods. Which do you wish to know the backstory to the most? What do you think of their enslavement?
The Enefadeh are dangerous and need to be treated with both caution and respect. While enslaving them is one way of keeping their power at bay, they are going to be extremely angry if (or rather, when, cause let’s face it, they’re gods) they manage to escape their moral prisons. I feel bad for them, because the Arameri are cruel masters, and it’s not fair to anyone that they use the Enefadeh’s power to ensure the complete subordination of the world at large.
4) Nahadoth finally catches up to Yeine and his first words and actions are mysteries to her. Gibbering or meaning?
Nothing that the Enefadah do is without meaning.
Naha is by far my favorite of the Enefadeh, even if Sieh is the charismatic and immediately likeable one. Like Yeine, Nahadoth has a divided nature. During the daylight, he’s a mortal. At night, he’s more like himself. In between, he’s a monster. The fact that each aspect of himself is so different fascinates me.
5) We’ve met the competition for the unspoken throne – Lady Scimina and Lord Relad. How do you think they will complicate Yeine’s life?
Scimina is a psycho bitch, but she’s calculating. She doesn’t care about anything but her own power, and she’s going to hit Yeine where it hurts. I also get the feeling that we may be underestimating Relad. His drunken hedonism could be the Arameri way of dealing with a conscience.
6) The Enefa obviously want something from Yeine. What do you think that is and how do you think Yeine will react to their wants?
Freedom and revenge. This may or may not be a bad thing. I don’t see Yeine as being particularly sympathetic to the Arameri, so she’s likely a good candidate to stir things up. This becomes increasingly evident the more that Yeine sees and reacts to the cruelty with which the Arameri treat the Enefadeh.
One of the things that we’ve seen glimpses of so far is the idea that Yeine’s memories of her mother might not align with the reality of what she was like when she lived in Sky. Let’s face it, she was an Arameri, and she was the heir. The odds of her being the pure and caring person that Yeine remembers are kind of slim. In all likelihood, her mother was a complex character with different goals and motivations, and Yeine is going to have to let go of the idea of perfection that she’s cherished.