Happy holidays everyone! Here are my (late) answers to the final round of discussion questions for N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I had a wonderful time revisiting this book, and I loved it just as much the second time.
For anyone who is interested in continuing the series, we will be doing a readalong of The Broken Kingdoms in January. This trilogy is a bit different from a lot of other fantasy stories. Each book is a self-contained story, and The Broken Kingdoms is set a few hundred years after The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and has a different protagonist, so it could probably be understood even without having read the first book. The first discussion will be on January 6 and will take place here. If you want in and aren’t already on the list, let me know and I’ll add you.
And now, on to the good stuff. This week’s questions were written by Lauren at Violin in a Void.
This post contains MAJOR spoilers. We’re talking Snape kills Dumbledore. If you haven’t read the end of the book, stop here.
1. Yeine shows us the meaning of esui when she summons Nahadoth, makes an offering of herself, and asks him to make love to her like the god he is. What did you think of her decision and the scenes that followed? Cosmic sex or verging on comic? What importance does sex has for their relationship?
She’s really got nothing to lose. Best case scenario, she has mind-blowing sex with the god she loves. Worst case, she ends up dead, but that’s gonna happen anyway. I’ll go with cosmic, and it gives her a real taste of what’s to come and a glimpse of the gods’ powers.
2. Relad makes a last-minute play for succession by offering to help the Darre. Are you satisfied with his role in this book or do you think he should have had more of a presence? What do you think of his strategy to get Yeine to choose him over Scimina?
Relad played this one brilliantly. He let Scimina completely underestimate him, and she got cocky. It worked. He offered Yeine a fighting chance, which fits quite well with her personality. So well, in fact, that I think he’d been planning it for a very long time. He is Arameri, after all.
3. The final chapters show us more of Dekarta’s character than the rest of the book. How do you feel about him now, knowing the truth of his motives and of Kinneth’s death?
Dekarta’s story is tragic, but the suffering he faced in life was completely of his own making. If he’d have sought another way to power instead of killing his wife, he wouldn’t have pissed off Kinneth, etc. It was a chain reaction that he started. Yes, he was following Arameri tradition, but when traditions suck, you change them.
4. The Succession Ceremony: Absolutely nothing turns out the way anyone thought it would. Did any of it match your expectations? What are your thoughts on what happened?
It was interesting to read this for the second time, knowing what was coming. I never liked Kurue; she came off as a bit of an ice queen. Even the second time around though, I didn’t expect her to turn into a stuck-up little snitch like she did.
5. We finally meet Itempas, a mad god whose overpowering love and hate caused all this suffering. What did you think of him?
I’m not a huge fan of Itempas, but that’s because I’m all over Naha. Isn’t it weird that the god who is supposed to be the god of goodness and light ends up being so fucked up? He’s got one hell of a temper and a whole lot of relationship issues. Strangely, he reminds me a bit of the Old Testament.
6. As a goddess, Yeine makes some dramatic decisions and changes, like altering Sky, killing Kurue, and trapping Itempas in mortal form. How do you feel about this new goddess-Yeine? Would you have down anything differently?
I like how her punishment of Itempas had almost a fairy-tale character to it, where she will release him from his mortal prison when he learns true love. The punishment she gives is meant to reform Itempas and heal him, while at the same time satisfying Naha’s need for vengeance to keep him from going overboard and blowing up the world. Yeine’s role is one of balance. She isn’t good or evil, but pragmatic and insightful. She observes the world, and she fixes things. She’s the best of what it means to be Darre or Arameri, and she does what is necessary to keep the peace and make the world more just.
7. Wrapping up: What did you think of the book as a whole? Any loose ends you’d like tied up? How might the world be changed by these events? Will you read the next book to find out?
I adore this book, and it’s just as good the second time around. I think I appreciated the artistry of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms even more this time, seeing how fragments of the worldbuilding serve as motifs and foreshadow the overall plot of the story. It’s brilliant.
I’m expecting the Arameri to have a run for their money. Their power in the world is threatened, and they’re going to have to stop hiding behind the Enefadeh’s power and actually make the world better for the people that they rule, lest they be overthrown. It’ll be interesting to see how the balance of power changes as time progresses. I’ve already read The Broken Kingdoms, and I’m excited to reread it and discuss it with everyone. I’m also excited to have reading buddies for The Kingdom of the Gods, which will be completely new to me.
Thanks everyone for reading along! This was such great fun!