Monday, 22 March 2010
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
I’ve just finished N.K. Jemisin’s ‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ and a damn fine book it is too. In turns intriguing, terrifying and exciting it follows the story Yeine Darr a formerly outcast scion of the family that rules the world (the eponymous Hundred Thousand Kingdoms) who is summoned unexpectedly to Sky, the centre of all power, as part of a Machiavellian succession plot. Now I like castlepunk but this takes palace intrigue throws in half the spice cupboard and a shelf full of metaphysics and turns the heat up to eleven. I had really good time reading it and that’s what counts for me.
From a craft perspective I was particularly struck by how cleverly Jemisin starts the book. Yeine Darr, the narrator, keeps restarting her story as she remembers things that she needs to tell you before she can continue. Done skilfully, as it is here, this allows Jemisin to lay down some serious pipe without holding up the story or breaking reader immersion and give us an insight into Yeine’s own mental state. I’m looking forward to the next book.