the Little Red Reviewer

Rereading N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Posted on: November 14, 2020

A couple of weeks ago, i needed yet another comfort read. I didn’t want to read anything new, I didn’t want to read something that reminded me of now.  It was the week of the election, and all i wanted to do was escape anything and everything that had anything to do with the year 2020.

So I picked up N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  I’d read this book for the first time back in 2013, as part of a read along hosted by Dab of Darkness, and I remembered liking it, and enjoying the whole trilogy, and there was something about enslaved gods, and the middle book in the trilogy was really funny?

Woah. I forgot how sexy The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is!  There isn’t like, a ton of sex, but damn is this book sexy and hot! And those handful of sex scenes? WOAH.  like, DAMN.

And this was Jemisin’s debut novel, are you freakin’ kidding me?  I’m not surprised at all that The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was nominated for a Hugo and a Nebula, and won the Locus award for best first novel, cuz, you know, Jemisin.

Ok, so anyway, if you’ve not read Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, it’s fantastic. And if you read Jemisin’s three years in a row Hugo award winning Broken Earth Trilogy and it freakin’ destroyed you and you are still picking those little pieces up off the floor . . .  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (and the rest of it’s trilogy, The Inheritance Trilogy) is much, much gentler.

What’s the premise of the book, you ask?  Once upon a time, there was a war among the gods. And after the war the humans enslaved the gods.

Yep, you read that right – the gods are the servants of the humans.

And because humans shouldn’t do terrible, amoral, depraved things, we make the enslaved gods do those things for us.  And the gods have their own set of morals that don’t quite mesh with ours, so it’s all ok, right?

Yeah, um, no it isn’t.

I’m a sucker for mythology. And I’m a double-sucker for gods to have the same weaknesses and failings that people have, and for gods to talk to each other and to people, and for gods to have really, really long memories.  I am a triple sucker for gods who are trapped in their own mythologies.

The mythology in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms? Oh, it is so exactly the kind of thing that I love!  I kinda want to reread the novel AGAIN (even though I read it two weeks ago?) just for the mythology!  A god of chaos, a god of order, a god of twilight/dawn/birth/death/change,  a godling who is the embodiment of childhood? And they all (ok, some of them) talk to each other, and to us?  Yes please! And all that mythology I love so much? In this book, it’s happening right now, in the present tense! eeee!!!!

Oh, the plot, you want to know about that too, I suppose.

Yeine, is the unwitting grand daughter of the King.  After her mother dies, Yeine is called to attend on her dying grandfather, in the capitol city, Sky.  Sky is where the gods live.  She meets her grandfather,  she meets a few of the gods,  she discovers that court politics are literally a life and death game.   She learns that history is written and rewritten by the winners. Sieh, the godling who is the embodiment of childhood, mistakes Yeine for his dead mother.  There is major major chemistry between Yeine and Nahadoth, the god of chaos. She learns that the gods have a plan for her. They’ll only hate her a little bit if she says no thanks.

She learns humans will always have more power than gods, because we can choose who we become.  (ok, maybe she didn’t learn that, maybe I learned that)

Did I mention the smoking hot chemistry between Yeine and Nahadoth?  We’re talking sun plasma temps here.

Yes, yes, there is much more in this book than a god and a mortal flirting with each other. This book is about, to be cliche, it’s about how to be human.  How to love. How to say you’re sorry when you’ve been an ass. How to tell people you love them. How to accept that you can’t change people, no matter how much you love them.  And that if you’re too stubborn to do those things, you’ll be lonely forever.  And because you love someone, you’ll let them be who they naturally are, instead of who you want them to be.

Oh, and there is court politics, and intrigue, and nearly everyone is lying to everyone else. And the dialog is a little snarky and the prose is fucking gorgeous and the plot twists are brilliant.

Hey, so how does everyone pronounce Yeine? I kept calling her Yee-ehn, although that can’t possibly be right. Is it Yeh-een?  Yie-neh?  Oh, wait, according to Wikipedia, her name is pronounced YAY-neh.  Makes sense!

Ok, so apparently I’m more than a little obsessed with Nahadoth, and you know what? I’m mature enough to say I’m on OK with that (and it’s not just because of those super hot sex scenes, i swear. really).  The first time I read this book, the image that came to might for him was Sloth from the original Full Metal Alchemist anime. These days I’m more imaging him as looking like Nathan Explosion.  (cuz, um, I’ve matured, or some shit). Nahadoth was so lonely, for so long.  And then Itempas came along, and Nahadoth knew happiness. And then, eons later, Enefa came along, and Nahadoth realized that only now was he whole, with both Itempas and Enefa in his life.  And then Enefa was destroyed. And then Nahadoth was enslaved by humans, who use him as a weapon.  They have no idea what he’s capable of, and he’ll wait forever for someone who is worthy of his love.

How long has Nahadoth been lonely?  What does that kind of loneliness and aloneness do to a person?

(huh.  So, this monotheism thing.  Is God super lonely? And what happens when you are that lonely and that alone, forever?)

The next book in the series is The Broken Kingdoms, which I got 50 or so pages into (lol, Shiny!), and then discovered that I could go to the library, so The Broken Kingdoms got put aside.

But, I got an email from the library yesterday, that they are now closed to the public, and you can only do curbside pick-up and drop off books in the drop box, until further notice. No one but staff is allowed past the lobby. Well, that’s not quite as mentally satisfying as getting to walk down an aisle of books and be surprised by what you see, so maybe I’ll get back to The Broken Kingdoms sooner than I thought.   I will still get some library books tho, because um, library.

Fuck you Covid, and the 2020 you rode in on.

5 Responses to "Rereading N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms"

And how, tell me HOW, have I not heard anything about this trilogy before now??!


it came out like 10 years ago. and these days, ten years feels more like eighty years.

once Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy came out, and won every award in existence, people kinda forgot about her earlier stuff, i guess?

Liked by 1 person

My library never fully reopened and has ONLY been doing curbside pick up since….they reopened that bit at least in August I think. Still, we have to be grateful for what we can get in these crazy times I suppose.
I read this one a few years ago and remember loving it and it has Jemisin’s signature brand of just a bit of weird thrown in there which I love. The court intrigue in this was a lot more than I had expected. I’ll have to reread it when I get around to reading the sequel.


there’s a third book, and an extra little novella too . . . oops, just blew up your TBR even more. #sorrynotsorry

i guess the benefit to curbside pick up is i don’t have to worry if the book i want is on a high shelf I can’t reach?

Liked by 1 person

Oh….dang LOL. Well, gonna have to get back on this series at some point lol.

That’s one advantage! I think the positive part for me is I don’t get extra books from browsing haha.

Liked by 1 person

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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