The Broken Kingdoms Readalong, Week 1

The Broken Kingdoms

Hi everyone, and welcome to the first week of our readalong of N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms, hosted by myself, Susan from Dab of Darkness, and Lauren from Violin in a Void.  Today was my turn to write the discussion questions.

Here’s a reminder of the schedule:

The Broken Kingdoms – 396 pages
Week 1 Prologue – Chapter 4 (96 pages) Jan. 6th Books Without Any Pictures
Week 2 Chapters 5-10 (105 pages) Jan. 13th Dab of Darkness
Week 3 Chapters 11-16 (98 pages) Jan. 20th Violin in a Void
Week 4 Chapter 17 – END (96 pages) Jan. 27th Books without Any Pictures

I have a Linky at the bottom of the page for anyone who wants to link up their posts.  🙂

The following discussion and comments will contain spoilers from the first four chapters of The Broken Kingdoms.

1.  What do you think so far of Oree Shoth?  Do you like her as much as Yeine?

Oree is a fascinating character, and she has an interesting perspective on the world.  Because her vision is limited to that which has been touched by magic, she’s more in tune with the godlings than ordinary people.  She’s an outsider, but at the same time she seems to have found her niche in Shadow.  Her life isn’t easy, but it’s hers, and that means a lot.  Even though her days seem pretty routine, Oree is a free spirit.  She left everything she knew to come to a strange city with no friends and no real direction.  That takes balls.

2.  Sky is now referred to by its inhabitants as Shadow, and we get to see the city from the perspective of the commoners rather than the ruling Arameri.  What do you think of the book’s setting?

It seems like a strange and wonderful place now that the godlings have come to live there.  The alleyway scene in particular made me laugh, even while reading it the second time.  The big tree that Yeine put there really did change things, and made the entire cityscape a lot darker.  It seems like something that might get annoying to Shadow’s residents after a while.  I enjoy seeing the sun every now and again.  Of course, being around all the godlings might make living in the dark worth it.

Eve though life itself is looking better, the Itempan priests are a bit sinister, and seem to carry on the old traditions of intimidation and cruelty.  During the last discussion of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, a few of us were talking about how ironic it was that the god of light was the most fucked up of them all.  It seems that the same applies to his followers, and that they haven’t taken the changes particularly well.

The Arameri are still ruling the world, but their grip on it isn’t quite the same as in the previous books.  The people of Sky/Shadow have their own lives that aren’t controlled by Arameri politics, and they don’t seem to be as horribly oppressed as in the previous book.

All in all, it’s the same world, and the same city, but so completely different that we don’t know quite what to expect from it.  The rules that were present in the past aren’t there now, and anything at all is possible.

3. The gods play a much different role in this book than in “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms,” and spend their time interacting with the people of Sky/Shadow. What do you think of the gods and godlings that we’ve met thus far? Who are your favorites?

Lil is my favorite at the moment. I seem to like the dark/creepy/weird gods best. Her name draws to mind the mythological Lilith, which seems quite fitting. And the whole fresh freely given thing makes her seem like she’s bound by some rules.

And why is it that the gods/godlings have so many emotional issues? Madding, for instance, and the way that he refuses to be in a relationship with Oree because he doesn’t want to lose her one day. Isolating yourself from the world doesn’t solve your problems, it only gives you different ones.

4. Any predictions on who or what could be killing the godlings?

It’s been a while since I’ve read this, and I don’t actually remember. It must take a lot of work to kill a godling. My suspicions lie with the Itempan priests. Could killing godlings be their way of trying to restore their former worldview?

5. For everyone who read the last book, Shiny’s identity should be relatively easy to guess, even though it hasn’t been explicitly stated yet. Do you think his punishment is suiting, or is it too much? Is there any chance he’ll come out of this as a normal person? How do you think Oree will react when she finds out?

My, how the mighty have fallen.  I think it’s hilarious that Oree is calling Itempas “Shiny.”

One of the most interesting things about having Oree as a protagonist is that readers consistently know more than she does.  She was raised in a small village and really doesn’t care about religion.  She doesn’t know the events of the last book, and has only learned bits and pieces of stories and legends.  This means she doesn’t realize who she’s talking to in the scene with Yeine and Sieh.  She thinks of Yeine as kind of like another godling without realizing that she’s one of the Three, and even though it was out of ignorance, she stood up to a fucking goddess.

The confrontation scene stands out to me because it shows how Yeine is acting as a moderator between the conflicting interests of the gods.  She’s holding Nahadoth back from wreaking vengeance on humanity for his children’s deaths.  She’s trying to temper Sieh’s need for revenge against Itempas, although I think she hopes that Itempas doesn’t learn his lesson for a long time.  Sieh can be a little shit sometimes in the way that only a child can, and his abuse of Itempas shows it.  He has a cruel streak beneath his innocent facade.  Yeine doesn’t think Naha, Sieh, and the rest are going to be ready to just Itempas back after what he did to them.  At the same time, I believe in second chances, and I think that by learning to care for Oree, that Itempas will gradually begin to heal and to realize the error of his ways.

12 thoughts on “The Broken Kingdoms Readalong, Week 1

  1. I was thinking it would be pretty terrifying to live in a city full of godlings, but I guess they are not supposed to kill humans. I guess that kind of explains why Oree is able to more-or-less treat them normally–though Madding was pretty stressed out when she was talking to Yeine! And on Madding, I don’t think he’s dealing well, either. He admits that he loves Oree… so won’t he grieve when she dies, whether he’s in an official relationship with her or not?

    1. It’s more like having to be careful to avoid mischief than real harm, but I kind of like that. It gives the city character. Keeps people on their toes.

      The Madding/Oree relationship is so strange, and I agree with you completely. He’s breaking two people’s hearts (his own and hers) by not biting the bullet and going with it. He’s gonna get hurt either way, so he might as well enjoy the time that he has with her.

  2. 1. Oree is so courageous. Yeine was thrust into an unfamiliar and dangerous situation and handled it pretty well, but Oree actually chooses to go to go alone, even though she’s blind.

    2. Being in shadow all the time would annoy me too. I tend to follow the sun around my house and I don’t like the rooms that don’t get enough!
    I was glad the city went through a peaceful change, but those Itempen priests…

    5. Oree’s boldness reminds me so much of Yeine 🙂 I actually think she might have behaved the same way even if she knew who Yeine was.

    1. I hope that Oree would behave the same way if she knew who Yeine was. I thought it was funny how much Madding was freaking out while she was telling off a goddess. I kind of like that she’s ignorant of it though. It means she’s in the unique position of saying what needs to be said without worrying about getting struck by lightning. 😛

  3. Oree definitely does have balls to simply pick up and leave, on her own, to go to far off Shadow City.

    I live in the desert, so I think I would be excited to live in a place of mostly Shadow for the first month. Then I would try to grow garden and all things would just be puny, striving for what little light there is, and that is when I would suddenly realize how much I miss the light.

    1. Light is good. When I studied in Russia in the late fall/early winter, there were very few hours of daylight, and I was leaving for school before dark and getting out after. As soon as I got back, I spent a week running around looking like a high person because I was so irrationally excited and enthusiastic about seeing sunshine.

  4. 1. So far I’m loving Oree. She’s such a different narrator than Yeine, and while I enjoyed the hell out of Yeine’s fractured narrative, it was often…I guess, difficult is the word I need to use there. Oree’s narrative has it’s own issues with the different ways she “sees” things, but so far it’s much more linear and easier, and I think she’s genuinely a more likeable person, so I’m excited to see more.

    2. I like seeing a different side of Sky too, because again it feels more like a real place (literally more grounded…hah, lame puns ftw). I guess I had assumed that most of the people in Sky were Arameri for some reason, so it’s fascinating to see that it’s more cosmopolitan and worldly than that.

    3. I love these godlings. Love them love them love them. They seem vivid and real in a way that only Nahadoth and Sieh seemed to me in the last book. And in reference to the rest of your comment, I think the godlings have so many issues because they are like humans to the third degree. They each seem to represent one facet of humanity like…distilled, more fully than any one human ever could. More human than humans, if you will.

    1. The only thing I really miss about Yeine are her snippets of stories and legends. Oree doesn’t really have that kind of background, but she’s self-reliant and independent. She does things cause she thinks they’re the right thing to do, even if normal people would balk at them. She’s probably the only person that could reach Shiny at this point, just because she’s so accepting of him no matter what he’s like.

  5. Yes, Yeine is now serving as the diplomatic moderator between all of them. 🙂
    I was glad to see Sieh’s true nature come to light, children can be the most cruel people at times and it didn’t show up in book 1 (at least not that I remember it so strongly).

    1. I wouldn’t have like Sieh nearly as much in the first book if his cruel side were more pronounced, but I think it does make a lot of sense. Children have their dark sides as well as their compassionate ones, and they like things to always be fair. Sieh’s not gonna wanna forgive till Shiny has suffered as much as he did.

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