Series: The Inheritance Trilogy #2
Published by Orbit in 2010
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The Broken Kingdoms is the second book in N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy. Set ten years after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the book tells the story of a blind woman named Oree Shoth who makes a living selling trinkets beneath the World Tree in the center of the capital city, Shadow. Oree may be blind, but she is able to see magic, which makes Shadow the perfect place for her to live. The city is home to many godlings, including Oree’s lover, Madding. One day, Oree stumbles upon the corpse of a godling, and as more bodies start turning up, she finds herself caught up in a conspiracy that could threaten the entire world.
I enjoyed the descriptions of the godlings, each of whom has his or her unique nature. There’s Nemmer, who works in the city’s criminal underworld, Madding, who wants to love Oree, but is scared because he’ll inevitably lose her, and of course, there’s Lil, my favorite, who eats human flesh, but only if it’s freely offered. The godlings make life in Shadow interesting, and I enjoyed learning more about them.
In The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, we mostly saw the world from the perspective of the ruling Arameri family. The Broken Kingdoms gives us a chance to delve deeper into the same world and see a greater diversity of the capital’s inhabitants. We get to see a range of people that includes artisans, merchants, godlings, beggars, priests, and cultists. This gives readers a much better picture of what life is like outside the palace walls.
Oree’s blindness added yet another dimension to the story. This is perhaps the only speculative fiction novel that I can think of offhand that has a blind protagonist. Her unique ability to sense magic allows her to be more perceptive than most sighted people, giving us a better picture of the godlings, whom most people try to ignore. Oree is an artist, and she can see the paintings that she creates. She quickly discovers that her paintings are a form of magic, and they play an important role of the story.
I could go on for hours about how much I love N.K. Jemisin’s writing and how fantastic the Inheritance Trilogy is thus far. I read The Broken Kingdoms as part of a readalong with other bloggers, and greatly enjoyed discussing it in depth. I can’t say enough good things about this book, and would highly recommend it.