the Little Red Reviewer

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms read along comes to an end.

Posted on: December 23, 2013

Well my friends, this is it.  We’ve come to the end of our read along for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  Make sure to watch Dab of Darkness for announcements about a continuing read along in N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

Will someone please make a time machine for me, so I can go back to 2010 and read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms back when it first came out? Calling this book amazing just doesn’t cut it, because it’s also innovative, ground breaking, gorgeously written,  and I could talk for hours and hours about the characters.  Ehh, maybe I should actually write a formal review?  But before that, I better get to this week’s questions, which were provided by Lauren from Violin in a Void.  Head over to her site to see what everyone else said.

btw, let it be known: I’m an idiot. Because many of us had finished the book early, Lauren so kindly sent out questions early so we could write up our responses while it was fresh in our minds.  Was it fresh in my mind when I got her e-mail? you bet!  is it still fresh in my mind 5 days later? not so much. Lauren = brilliant, me = idiot.

Questions, answers, and buckets and buckets of spoilers (and me rambling) is after the jump!

1. Yeine shows us the meaning of esui when she summons Nahadoth, makes an offering of herself, and asks him to make love to her like the god he is. What did you think of her decision and the scenes that followed? Cosmic sex or verging on comic? What importance does sex has for their relationship?

I thought that scene was insanely hot.  Cosmically hot, the way they fed off of each other.  No pun intended, it put him in a funny position.  He doesn’t want to hurt her, but it’s in his nature to do so.   And then in the beginning of the next chapter, Yeine practically chides Enefa for being jealous!

I’ve been thinking more about the word Esui, and am thinking that it closely resembles “whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”.

It’s interesting, that both this scene, and her Darre coming of age ceremony involve sex, and sex involving a power play.  When she was a teenager and went through the Darre ceremony, she let her partner believe he had power over her, when in fact, the opposite was true.  It’s in Nahadoth’s nature to have power over his female sex partners. In a way, even this time, it’s Yeine who holds all the power, because of who and what she is.

I used to be so fond of saying “ugg, i don’t like sex scenes in books”, when what I should have been saying was “I don’t like crappily written sex scenes in books”.  Because damn, when it’s good, it is soooooooo good.   it’s downright inspiring actually. Dab of Darkness knows what I’m talking about!

2. Relad makes a last-minute play for succession by offering to help the Darre. Are you satisfied with his role in this book or do you think he should have had more of a presence? What do you think of his strategy to get Yeine to choose him over Scimina?

Relad was always a minor character for me.  There was so much going on already, that I was okay with him being in the background.  I feel bad for him, since Scimina is so aggressive, he knows he’s just a back-up. He knows Scimina would sacrifice him in a heartbeat, and that’s pretty much the only reason she didn’t arrange for him to be assassinated already.  The look on Scimina’s face when Yeine chooses Relad? PRICELESS.

3. The final chapters show us more of Dekarta’s character than the rest of the book. How do you feel about him now, knowing the truth of his motives and of Kinneth’s death?

I’m torn a bout Dekarta.  I want to hate his guts. I still hate him. But he did love Kinneth, he loved her so much that he wanted to blame Yeine for her death!  that’s what he meant when he kept saying he was trying to learn if Yeine was a true Arameri (I guess, because a true Arameri would have killed her own mother to become a royal heir? well, yeah, they do that kind of thing).

Yeine’s guess was partially right, that Viraine was responsible for Kinneth’s death.

4. The Succession Ceremony: Absolutely nothing turns out the way anyone thought it would. Did any of it match your expectations? What are your thoughts on what happened?
[Note: so much happened in this ceremony that I have separate questions for Itempas and Yeine's roles. You can discuss them there rather than in this question].

ok, I knew the ceremony was going to be full of surprises, and it was. So much so, that that scene was a total whirlwind for me. I’ve read that scene like 3 times now, and it is STILL a whirlwind. I liked that all the enslaved gods were there, they are Yeine’s supporters (or at least she thinks they are. And it turns out they need to be there).  It was funny to me, and to Yeine too, that the stone of the Earth is this tiny little nothing of a rock.  It’s funny, isn’t it, how little unassuming wallflowers can become so powerful in the blink of an eye? ;)

5. We finally meet Itempas, a mad god whose overpowering love and hate caused all this suffering. What did you think of him?

Talk about a Deus ex Machina. that was like, literal.  He’d  been standing there, all along.  I keep thinking about how human personalities are different than god-ish personalities. us humans, we’re always telling ourselves and others not to hate, not to hold grudges, to forgive, not to stay angry. The anger will destroy us, mentally and phsycially. It’s no fun being around an angry, resentful person, and the stress does physical damage to your body.  But gods? they’re too damn stubborn to take any of that advice, and what cares have they for a physical body?

Itempas and Nahadoth are carrying around loves, hates, jealousies, misunderstandings, grudges, passions, fears, and everything that would tear us apart, they’ve been carrying it around for thousands of years, it’s been eating at them, shaping them, forcing them into characteristics that might not be natural, even for them.

sucks to be a God.  And Itempas has holier than thou down to a fucking science, and I don’t like him.  I get that he’s supposed to be the god above the other gods, but does he have to rub it in their faces?  Does he have to treat the other enslaved gods like whimpering children?  the way he treats his own family is not very godlike.  He hasn’t earned Enefa’s love, that’s for sure.  Deep down, he is lonely, as is Nahadoth. It’s  not anger or hatred that made Itempas what he is, it’s loneliness.  I can feed bad for him, but it doesn’t mean i have to like him. I think he’s an asshole.

Makes me want to go back and read that scene where Yeine and Viraine meet for the first time, and analyze the shit out of every word he says to her.

6. As a goddess, Yeine makes some dramatic decisions and changes, like altering Sky, killing Kurue, and trapping Itempas in mortal form. How do you feel about this new goddess-Yeine? Would you have down anything differently?

Go Yeine!!

When she wakes up and sees through new eyes what is happening around her, she sees chains, leading from the gods to herself.  This confused me. Not that the metaphysical chains were there, that i understood, but I want to know whose responsibility they were. Did the gods “chain” themselves to Enefa because she was a creator? Or was it something Enefa did (that we don’t yet know about) that she chained people to her?  Of course Enefa didn’t want to die. was this her last way of forcing the other enslaved gods to her will, to eventually help her to rise again?  put simply, are they voluntary chains of love and loss, or just more chains of enslavement?  Everyone else has secrets, so it makes me wonder if Enefa has secrets of her own. Yeine breaks the chains, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Itempas is so funny, he still thinks he’s in control. he’s all like “i won’t permit this!”, and Yeine is like “what? those words coming out of your mouth, they don’t mean anything to me”. He’s in complete denial that he has become powerless.  It’s too bad, he’s the only person in the room who has never experienced powerlessness, so it will hurt him more than anyone.  making him moral is the PERFECT punishment!

Like i said – go Yeine!!

7. Wrapping up: What did you think of the book as a whole? Any loose ends you’d like tied up? How might the world be changed by these events? Will you read the next book to find out?

I may not have time to participate in the next read along, but I will most definitely be continuing with this series!!  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms easily made it on my best of the year list, this book was absolutely amazing.  I’ve blabbed for a good 1500 words, but the book left me speechless.

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5 Responses to "Hundred Thousand Kingdoms read along comes to an end."

While I can’t object to being called brilliant I must admit that I did the questions earlier partly to avoid looking like an idiot if I forgot too many details :D

1. Ooh, that bit about him shaping himself to her fantasy… *sighs in longing*
However, the cosmic stuff made me think of that jokey question “Did the Earth move for you?” And the broken furniture reminded me of Twilight…
I love how Yeine accuses Enefa of being jealous. So bold and snarky of her.

2. The look on Scimina’s face is another reason I’d like to see this on film!

5. Great points about the nature of gods vs. humans. The scale of their emotions is unfathomable, and at the same time they have less reason to deal with them. No need to worry about wasting your short life or being sick and unhealthy from stress. If anything humanity will suffer because *someone* is a being a whiny jealous bitch.
I can’t even feel bad for Itempas, he’s such an asshole.

6. My understanding of the chains is that Itempas used Enefa’s power to bind the gods. He was able to defeat Nahadoth only by wielding Enefa’s power in the form of the Stone of Earth, so it could be the same with the chains? And Enefa was too weak/dismbodied to do anything about it.

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Inspiring, indeed! ;)

I liked that the ceremony stone was just a nib of a rock. Really, unremarkable. And Itempas, making such a huge miscalculation. *big evil grin*

Great assessment of Itempas’s character. The gods feel, and keep on feeling. There don’t have the mechanisms to let go of grudges, emotional pain, compensate for loneliness. And they lack the ability to deal with death – immortal godhood can suck big time, and over thousands of years can lead to some pretty twisted deities.

Maybe the chains between Enefa and the enslaved gods were put there by Itempas, since he was punishing them for following her.

I am so glad you joined me in this read along and enjoyed the book so greatly. It is one of my favorite books and I always feel like I am risking something special when I put a fave book up for dissection.

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He, he, he, I had the same problem (great, the questions came early, did I reply to them then? No, I did that on Monday).
As for chains, I thought about it as well, and the way I saw it, they were the chains Enefadeh created themselves out of love for Enefa (probably why she couldn’t die and they wouldn’t let her). Then again, that’s just my thinking, as there wasn’t a clear explanation of hopw they happened.

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My theory on Relad is that he is thoroughly an Arameri and that his strategy for surviving and winning was to appear powerless while pulling strings behind the scenes. The proposition he offers Yeine is too thought out to have been a last minute thing. I think he’d planned it for a while, using his drunkenness and debauchery to divert suspicion away from him. If everyone thinks of him as a bit of a joke, they won’t see what’s coming when he plays his cards and takes over.

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