Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"The Broken Kingdoms" by N.K. Jemisin

Summary: Set in the same world as The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms takes place ten years after the end of the first novel.  The world is no longer ruled by Bright Itempas alone, and many godlings now live and exist among mortals.  One of those mortals is Oree Shoth, a blind artist with an ability to see magic.  When godlings begin to be murdered, Oree is immediately involved: because of her magic, because of her godling ex-lover Madding, and because of "Shiny," a strange being she finds behind her home.

Musings: I thoroughly enjoyed the dense world building of Thousand Kingdoms and the complex relationships between mortals and gods it depicted.  And I liked Broken Kingdoms even more than the first book, perhaps because of its reduced focus on politics and increased focus on relationships and magic.

The protagonist, Oree, is in many ways similar to the protagonist Yeine from the first book.  Although their situations and statuses are very different, they have similar voices and personalities.  This didn't particularly bother me, though sometimes reading gave me vague deja vu.  However, though Broken Kingdom also focuses on the relationships between gods and mortals like the first book, I found the relationships in this book more compelling.  Oree's loving relationship with Madding and her difficult relationship with Shiny are central to the novel and develop and grow over time.

The novel does have a bit of the "magical blind woman" trope, but I did find Oree's powers and use of magic interesting, especially as contrasted with the other characters'.  Jemisin is also careful to stress the force and limitations of the gods' powers, who have a somewhat straddled existence.  They live among mortals, can love mortals, and can be hurt and even killed.  Yet they are also feared, worshiped, and strong.

It's nice to see the characters from Thousand Kingdoms back again, even though they are all in significantly diminished roles (Yeine, T'vril, Nahadoth, and Sieh all make important appearances). Interesting yet under-explored characters from the first book (namely Bright Itempas) are more important.

In content, feel, theme, and tone, Broken Kingdoms is much like Thousand Kingdoms.  For those who enjoyed the first book (like myself!), this is definitely a good thing, even if the book doesn't feel completely and distinctly different.

***This book qualifies for the POC Reading Challenge.

1 comment:

  1. I have been meaning to read the Thousand Kingdoms for ages, and posts like yours make me wonder why I haven't already, for cyring out loud! :)