The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Readalong, Part 1

Today begins a readalong of N.K. Jeminsin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, hosted by Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer.  This week’s questions were written by S. Voss.

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.

Other thoughts…

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.

10 thoughts on “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Readalong, Part 1

  1. I am hoping to join in! It would be a reread for me, too. Only I only have an e-copy and my tablet got stepped on and is being sent away for warranty work. The person that stepped on it bought me this book and now I am just hoping it arrives soon! (I really want to read the rest of the trilogy so it would be nice to refresh my memory first.)

    I also hardly ever reread…

  2. You got to meet N.K. Jemisin and hear her read? *THUD* I wanna live where you live, and go to all the cool events you get to go to! holy crap! 😀

    intimate first person POV is often my favorite, because exactly what you said, that it feels like the character is talking directly to me, stumbling over the hard to say parts, whispering the secret parts. it’s like Yeine is entrusting her story to us.

    I feel bad for the enslaved gods too, but not so bad that i want them free to run around getting revenge and destroying everything. The Arameri sorta painted themselves into a corner with that one! They can’t ever say to the Enefa “no hard feelings, right?”. the freed Enefa would stomp their asses in a heartbeat.

    woohoo, we were on the same brainwave about Scimina! total psycho bitch. Okay, in her case, Nahadoth can totally go crazy and be vengeful. Bitch totes deserves it.

    I want to know more about Yeine’s mother. Viraine should be able to tell her more about her Mother’s youth at court, right??

    1. It was at BEA when I went in 2012. She did a reading at the New York Public Library. N.K. Jemisin is super super nice, and she told me she liked my henna tattoo. 😛

      Book Expo was basically book nerd heaven. I didn’t make it last year, but this year I need to. I feel like locally I’m starved of book events, even though I live in a big city.

      I like that the gods are so human. They have emotions, and sometimes they do stupid things. I think that’s part of why their enslavement is so awful, but at the same time, I hope that being mortal teaches them something that they might remember if they’re freed.

      Scimina is so evil! If this were a movie, she’d be played by Helena Bonham Carter.

      Viraine strikes me as a sleazebag. To continue with some of the GoT references from earlier, he’s the Balish in the lot of them. He pretends to be people’s friend, but you can’t escape the feeling that he’d as soon stab them in the back…

  3. I would love to do a read along of all three books. So if you’re interested, we should chat. 🙂

    You’re comment about Relad’s drunken hedonism possibly being a sign of an Arameri conscience is a really interesting idea. If he does have a conscience, and truly hates much of what he sees around him, but doesn’t feel he can change anything or escape, than, yeah, he might be boozing and boobing it to forget.

    I would also like to know more about Yeine’s mother and also Dakarta, and his most likely involvement in the the assassination of her mother. Complex family, indeed!

    1. I’m definitely down for readalongs of all three. 🙂

      Dekarta’s an interesting character. I wonder what he really thinks. He may be capable of poisoning Yeine’s mother, but at the same time, some part of me thinks that he doesn’t want Scimina to win. If he really was as ambivalent as he seemed, I don’t think he’d bother bringing Yeine to Sky.

  4. If there is going to be a read-along for all the books, I’m in. I got sucked into this story amazingly quickly.
    Also, I agree about the storytelling, it works wonderful for the story and we are obviously learning about how it came about that Yeine is wherever she is at the moment, obviously not of her own will.

    1. Exactly! A lot of fantasy novels will spend a good deal of the introductory chapters infodumping, then get on with the story. Jemisin tells the story and adds the background as it’s needed to understand, which makes the book difficult to put down from the very first page.

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