Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

It's not true that I only read N.K. Jemisin's debut novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, because it was nominated for the Hugo; I'd seen strong recommendations for it several times before that (notably from James Nicoll, who has been shilling for it for most of a year now). But it certainly took the Hugo nod for me to move 100K up to the top of the reading pile -- so that much is true.

Sadly, after reading it I'm not sure that I have much to say about it: 100K is a solid, entertaining epic fantasy that stands very well on its own (but will apparently have sequels, since everything must be a trilogy these days), but, in that, it's like a thousand other books.

Oh, it's good, certainly, and a strong debut novel, but it's yet another semi-barbarian-outsider-thrown-into-a-snake-pit-court story, with the expected family drama, high stakes, and world-controlling magics. It's epic fantasy; this is what we expect. I enjoyed every single page of this book, but not a word of it surprised me; I doubt I would have nominated it for the Hugo if I'd read it earlier.

So, if you like stories of intrigue within world-dominating nasty families and their magically unlikely architecture, with a spunky, tough heroine very well calculated to pick up maximum reader identification, some romantically tormented gods, and a plausible and well-worked out cosmology, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms will not disappoint you.


Yona said...

i always felt this novel is less about intrigue but about the creation and depiction of gods.

James Davis Nicoll said...

but will apparently have sequels, since everything must be a trilogy these days

The second book definitely follows on the events of this book but functions as a stand-alone; it's a sequel in the mystery series sense rather than "here, have another chunk of plot that begins in media res and ends without nothing important resolved."

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