The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Readalong, Part III

Readalongs 14 Comments 16th December, 2013

The Hundred Thousand KingdomsWelcome to week three of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms readalong.  This week’s host is Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer.

There will be readalongs of the second two books in N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy beginning in the new year.  Anyone who wants to join in is welcome, and you don’t have to have read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for the rest of the series to make sense.

The following discussion will contain major spoilers for the first 3/4 of the book.  For a spoiler-free review, see here.

1. T’vril takes Yeine to the servant’s party. What did you think of that party, and of Sieh’s part in it?

It was refreshing to see a different side of Sky. I think that it fit Sieh’s nature well to provide a sense of childlike joy to people who generally have a bleak existence.  Seeing him in an older body makes it seem like his childlike nature is in part a coping mechanism that he uses to remember Enefa and pay her respect.

2. Yeine presents herself as such a nice, compassionate person. Did your feelings about her change after the meeting she and Nahadoth had with Gemd?

Do the lives of a few outweigh the lives of the many?  Yeine is caught in a difficult position, and even though her actions seemed cruel, they are balanced by realizing just how many lives would be lost if Darr were to be invaded.  By making an example, hopefully she can keep the peace and piss off Scimina in the process.  Yes, it’s cruel, and a bit Arameri of her, but leaders sometimes need to make difficult decisions, and if that is what it takes to prevent a lot more bloodshed, then I can understand why she did it.

3. on page 230 we learn about the Darre concept of “esui”, of attraction to danger. Have you ever experienced Esui? did it help you, or hurt you? Do you think it will help Yeine, or hurt her?

I love the concept of “esui,” and yeah, I’ve definitely experienced it.  It’s what made me take an eight credit Russian course my first semester of college (and what made me stick with it, despite my professor’s Stalinistic teaching methods).  It makes people take risks and step out of their comfort zone, and it’s why Naha is sexy despite the fact that he’s a killing machine.  Having studied other languages, I’m always intrigued to see places where concepts exist in one language but not in another.  For example, there isn’t a literal translation that means the same as “fun” in Russian, but there is a word that means “places of interest that are worth seeing.”

4. What did you think of the reveal regarding Ygreth’s (Kinneth’s mother) death? Was it something you expected? How does being forced to do something like that (or knowing you’ll be forced to) shape a person?

It makes Kinneth’s actions make a lot more sense. I wouldn’t want to be a royal Arameri. Not that I wanted to before, but this seals the deal. *shudders* It proves that you have to be a heartless dick if you want to be in charge. It also explains why the Arameri regard emotions as weak; if you have to kill someone you love to rule, then best not get attached to anyone.

5. If I’m reading it correctly, the ceremony can require a human sacrifice (to show that the heir is strong enough to kill anyone, if asked). Who might Scimina sacrifice? Who might Yeine sacrifice?

Scimina doesn’t have enough of a heart for her to have a meaningful sacrifice. Relad, perhaps? I don’t see Yeine sacrificing anyone. She’d throw a tantrum and refuse to have any part of it, thus changing the course of history forever.

6.The ball is only a few days away. What do you think will happen?

I already know what will happen, so I’m not going to answer that one. However, it would be totally badass if she’d unleash the Nightlord at the ball.

Other thoughts…

As I said in my original review of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, there’s some cruelty and violence in this book that puts even Scott Lynch to shame.  There were multiple gruesome torture scenes in this section, and all of them made me hate the Arameri and wonder how they can be so unfeeling.  It was also very telling to see Nahadoth and Sieh express that they cared for the people who prayed to them, whether or not it was within their power to do anything about it.  That has to weigh on a person, and explains a lot about why the Enefadeh act the way they do and why they’d be willing to go to any length to escape.

14 Responses to “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Readalong, Part III”

  1. nrlymrtl

    I like your comment about studying languages and how some things don’t translate succinctly. I also took some Russian in college – just 1 semester. But I had a Russian friend for ~2 years. He would ask our household all sorts of language questions. The word ‘stuff’ was particularly hard to explain.

    That obliette scene was so harsh, and so revealing of multiple peoples’ characters. Jemisin is an awesome writer.

    • Grace

      The oubilette scene was traumatizing, and made me feel nauseous the first time I read it. Actually, the second time I read it, too… and it makes me want Yeine to do whatever is necessary to stop the Arameri, even if it’s not within her power. I want her to find some magical way to end all of the pain and suffering that they cause. Like, you get that the Arameri are ruthless and evil, but until the oubilette and then the scene with Sieh and Naha, it doesn’t sink in nearly as much.

  2. Lauren

    There’s no word for fun in Russian?! That’s kind of scary… I like that they have a word for “places of interest that are worth seeing” though.

    4. Ugh, yes, can you imagine asking your parent or partner to die for you so you can be ruler? I suppose they’d expect it though – all Arameri must serve and whatnot.

    • Grace

      There is a similar word, but it connotes jolliness and merriment and isn’t quite as versatile a concept as the English equivalent.

      I think knowing you might have to kill or be killed by a family member explains why the Arameri are so fucked up. It would be hard to have normal relationships knowing that.

        • Grace

          Quite true. And it seems like there’s a lot of inbreeding going on… the whole family seems to be in bed with each other at any given time.

          • Lauren

            Oh yeah, I forgot about that. It’s crazy to have so many living and working in the palace. Any outside lovers they might have would have to leave at sunset too, so of course they’re all going to hop into bed with each other. Luckily most are distantly related, I guess. They’ll have to count on the ones who spend their time travelling for business to add some variety to the gene pool.

            • Grace

              Mhm. And we’ve seen how marrying outsiders is frowned upon, so I can’t imagine it happens as often as it should.

  3. Ines

    I don’t think unleashing Nahadoth is possible as Dekarta rules them all and he could just forbid him then. I think. :)
    Yes, I thought Lynch was sometimes gruesome but this has been at some points rather unbelievably awful.

  4. Grace

    Haha, maybe not possible, but I can dream! The callous and blase attitude that the Arameri have towards the violence make it so much worse. It’s like it’s completely normal to them.

  5. Redhead

    3. I love it when writers give us a word in the fantasy language that doesn’t quite translate to English. when I was a kid, my grandparents would use lots of Yiddish, and about half the words had no English translation. Language is fun like that, you think your mother tongue has words for just about everything, and then you learn words in another language, and realize that even languages have limits. love it.

    can i giggle just a little bit that the read alongs I’m involved with have lots of torture and horrible people? what the hell kind of person am I??

    • Grace

      An awesome demented person (aka the best kind).

      I love languages in general, and it makes me so happy when authors incorporate them as a part of their worldbuilding. And Jemisin does it so seamlessly too… she only mentions it when it means something to the story, but when she does, it’s so fascinating and it acknowledges the complexity and limitations that languages have. :)

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