The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Orbit Books, New York, 2010
From my library hold list. My second book for Once Upon A Time VI.
God and mortals. What other combination speaks so directly to our mythological roots?
N.K. Jemisin’s debut novel is rich and full of the unexpected.
In the city of Sky there is a castle, perched on top of a high column. The castle is also called Sky and in it live the King of the Empire, his heirs and retinue. It is where the governing body holds their council. Within the castle are hidden places where Gods and Goddesses are live. Called “Weapons”, they are enslaved by the Royal Family and at the beck and call of their human captors. They are also at war with each other.
This, to me, is wonderful mythic world building and I love it. And within this fine first novel, like all good stories, are aspects of human culture, behavior, and hubris. Racism, colonialism, class issues, slavery and politics all play a part.
From my window in Sky, it seemed as though I could see the whole of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. That was a fallacy, I knew: scriveners have proven that the world is round. Yet it is easy to imagine. So many winking lights, like stars on the ground.
My People were audacious builders once. We carved our cities into mountainsides and positioned our temples to make a calender of the stars – but we could never have built anything like Sky. Nor could the Amn, of course, not without the aid of their captive gods, but this is not the main reason Sky is deeply, profoundly wrong in Darre eyes. It is blasphemy to separate oneself from the earth and look down on it like a god. It is more than blasphemy, it is dangerous. We can never be gods, after all – but we can become something less than human with frightening ease. From page 74.
Drawn into this world I found I could not put this book down and it has taken me a while to come up with words to express my thoughts. I may be going out on a limb here, but for me, after reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin has joined with Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia Butler as one of my favorite science fiction/ fantasy authors. I can not wait to read the other books in The Inheritance Trilogy and her new Dreamblood series.
Jemisin has been publishing short stories for a while now. I have got to pay more attention to print and online Science Fiction/Fantasy publications!