Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Broken Kingdoms, by N. K. Jemisin

The Broken Kingdoms is a catch-up read for me, as I intend to read Jemisin's The Kingdom of Gods this year.  The latter is book 3 of the Inheritance Trilogy, thus The Broken Kingdoms is Book 2.  So much for that.

The first book in the series, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, is quite the sprawling affair, where wildly powerful beings are commonplace.  The story is highly entertaining.  Based on the sample in that book, I expected The Broken Kingdoms to be of smaller scale, kind of an opposite.  It does start that way, but quickly builds to warp fantasy speed.  I wasn't at all disappointed, Jemisin brings this off very well.

Our protagonist, Oree Shoth, is a blind woman from a race whose land was wiped out by the Nightlord (one of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' three Gods) earlier.  She lives in the Shadow of the Tree the reborn third god of the trio caused to grow in the first book.  And she is "plagued by gods", surrounded by the children of the three, including a very strange and taciturn one she calls Shiny.  Shiny is not what he seems, that much is obvious, and thus the ride begins.

Jemisin's over-the-top style is quite fun.  Too much is never enough for her.  Yet through it all she maintains a sense of proportion, and the human emotions are human-scale.  Thus a very unreal story of gods and godlings becomes a very down-to-earth story of love and its price.  You feel like you at least sort of understand all the characters, whatever their scale.  I give this one four stars, and am very much looking forward to reading the last one.  Hopefully I can convince my public library to buy it, but I may just break down and buy it for them.  We'll see.

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