The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

November 3, 2016
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Book Cover The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Inheritance, #1
N.K. Jemisin
Hachette Book Group Orbit
February 25th, 2010

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

(via Goodreads)


This is a book I might have never read without BookRiot’s Read Harder challenge. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms satisfied “Read the first book in a series by a person of color.” Check. Reading this book opened my eyes not only to a new fantasy series (which I already adore) but to an entirely new perspective in fantasy.

Yiene Darr is summoned to the floating city of Sky, the seat of the Arameri family that controls the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. As the unsanctioned biracial daughter of the self-abdicated heiress to the Kingdom, Yiene doesn’t know what to expect when she meets her Grandfather for the first time. She certainly doesn’t expect to be named one of three heirs to the throne. Suddenly, Yiene is locked in a war to the death with two cousins, both of whom have been raised with superior education, including politics, war, and how to wield power. Trapped, scared, and overwhelmed, Yiene finds some powerful (and incredibly unstable and untrustworthy) allies in the Enefadah. The Enefadah are goes enslaved by the ruling family after they lost the last God’s War against the Lord of Light, patron God of the Sky. And let’s just say they aren’t happy about it.

We can never be gods, after all — but we can become something less than human with frightening ease.

The beautiful thing about The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is that Jemisin returns to the pre-Tolkien type of fantasy. Men and Gods are closely tied together in an Epic-esque story of conquest. We aren’t trying to save a princess or rescue anyone from evil. We’re just trying to survive. Fresh, original, and surprisingly different, Jemisin throws us into a new world without fanfare.

Yiene is in many ways both a stereotypical heroine and refreshingly different. She appears to us with a number of YA fantasy tropes checked off. Parents died mysteriously? Check. In a new and unfamiliar situation? Check. Forced to attempt the impossible? Check. Political intrigue and power struggles? Check. Frequently described as a mutt/not beautiful? Check. Will probably need to fight to the death at some point? Checkarooni. The list goes on. Yet Yiene feels anything but troupe herself.

There’s truth even in tainted knowledge, if one reads carefully.

The range of emotion she expresses makes her stand out as unique from most fantasy female protagonists. She is confused, sad, happy, lustful, curious, angry… She loses her temper but tries so hard to win at this game she has been thrust into. Yiene makes mistakes. A lot of them. And as our narrator, Yiene can sometimes be a bit confusing.

When I was halfway through The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, I knew I would need to read it again. From the beginning, we feel like Yeine, is unreliable. Telling her story as a bit of a flashback, she finds sometimes she isn’t telling the story quite right. We hear the lines:

But I think I am ahead of myself. I must start again.

…or some variation therein repeatedly. But not to the point that it’s annoying. And Yiene does tell us information directly, but nothing that feels forced or uncomfortable. Well, the telling doesn’t feel uncomfortable. Sometimes her narration does. And that’s why I knew I’d have to re-read this book. Jemisin does a spectacular job slowly feeding the reader information. We are just as clueless as Yiene. By the time I finished the novel, my whole perspective of Yiene’s situation had completely changed. I know the next time I read this I will view the story in an entirely new light.

Once upon a time there was a

Once upon a time there was a

Once upon a time there was a

Stop this. It’s undignified.

The Gods are the most fascinating characters. Nahadoth the Nightlord is one of the original trio of Gods, the Three: Nahadoth, Enefa, and Itempas. Enefa was lost in the war, and now Itempas the victor is free. These Three gods are representations of ideas and natural forces and described differently every time. Chaos, balance, order. Cold, change, heat. Night, dawn, day. Their children, the Godlings Sieh the Trickster, Kurue the Goddess of Wisdom, and Zhakkarn the Goddess of war and battle make up the captured family of fallen godlings. With Nahadoth enslaved with them, the Gods play as much as they can with the people of Sky. Their lore is unique, exciting, and vividly established. I want to tell you everything I love about these characters, but I would give too much away.

There is nothing foolish about hope.

There are so many reasons for you to read this book immediately. But the real key is that Jemisin takes a non-white, non-European female protagonist and sets her in a fantasy world that delves into the horrors of slavery while twisting the traditional troupes around her finger. Yes, there is magic. Yes, there is romance. Yes, there are races and languages and all that. But it’s so much more. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms takes the rules and tropes of fantasy we have been playing with for the last hundred years and twists them to offer up a new type of narrative.

5 Stars

What do you think?

  • Have you read any of N.K. Jemisin’s books? Do you like them? Do you plan on reading them?
  • What appeals or doesn’t appeal to you about Gods as characters in literature?
  • I didn’t include any photos in this blog post. Did you notice? Do you care one way or another?


  • ChicNerdReads November 3, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Oh this one sounds very intriguing and I loved your review!! I like exploring new fantasy. Definitely adding this one to my TBR <3

    • Jackie B November 3, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      I’m so glad! It’s definitely a great read, and very different from what I’m used to with fantasy. I hope you enjoy it!!

      • ChicNerdReads November 3, 2016 at 1:11 pm

        I agree it does sound different and your review definitely states how different it is from other fantasy books. Thank you!

  • Birdie November 3, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Tat cover is spectacular!

    • Jackie B November 3, 2016 at 11:36 am

      !! Yes! I love it too. I actually think they improve with each successive book in the series, too. 🙂

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea November 3, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Your review is absolutely amazing in this one! Seriously! Adding it and sharing it right now ❤

    • Jackie B November 3, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      D’aw. Thanks, Danielle! That means a lot to me. 🙂

  • Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity November 3, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Oh, I am SO glad you liked this one so much, Jackie! The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is one of my all time favourite books. I knew I would love it from the moment I picked it up, and everything about ti was fantastic. It was just one of those solid five star reads because it just didn’t have any faults.

    I didn’t adore the next two books as much, but they were both really, really good four star reads.

    I definitely want to re-read the whole series again, because the stories and characters are so nuanced, I think anyone would get new things out of a re-read. And I read this so many years ago, too. I need to refresh my mind about how awesome everything about it is 😀

    I hope you enjoy the reset of the series as much as you liked this first installment!

    • Jackie B November 8, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks, Chiara! This is such a unique series. I recently finished The Broken Kingdoms, and I have so many opinions. I can completely relate to why you think The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the best in the series. I told myself I can’t start the third book until I write my next review, but WOW is that hard for me. I have so many opinions but I want to keep reading… #BookLoverProblems

      If you re-read the series, let me know how it goes. I personally can’t wait to finish this and reread it. I’m certain I’ll find all sorts of new things. Particularly around Yiene.

  • Read Diverse Books November 4, 2016 at 1:22 am

    I’m finishing up The Obelisk Gate this weekend!
    I haven’t read Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, but it sounds fantastic and I will definitely read it one day. I will probably wait until The Broken Earth series is completed next year, though. Then I’ll be fully ready for Inheritance. Your review certainly makes a case for why I should start it ASAP, but you saw how many books I bought in October… 🙁

    • Jackie B November 8, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      You are a better person than I, Naz. I don’t have it in me to start a series which isn’t fully published (or, the final book will be published in the next 6 weeks). But I completely understand waiting to pick up a new series by an author when you are in the middle of another. You don’t want to risk mixing things up!
      P.S. Your October haul fills me with jealousy. Brilliant collection of books– good luck battling that TBR!

  • Anne November 4, 2016 at 8:54 am

    This sounds absolutely fantastic!! And Gods as characters will always remain interesting to me I think. Adding this one to my massive pile ;). Awesome review! I applaud your enthusiasm :). And I didn’t notice there weren’t any photos at all. I think it mostly depends on the length of the review. If it’s 1000+ words, I can highly appreciate photos to break the text a little. If it’s shorter, is usually just becomes too distracting?

    • Jackie B November 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks. Anne! Sometimes, you’ve got to get excited. Particularly when something exciting and new comes across your lap.

      I appreciate the mention about photos. Sometimes, it takes too much time/effort to find appropriate legal-to-use photographs. (And sometimes, I don’t always get my legalities right. Oops!) I’ll keep that in mind for future posts.

      • Anne November 9, 2016 at 6:29 am

        Definitely; hurray for excitement! I know…sometimes I spent up to 2 hours to create something that looks ‘okay’ and is legit at the same time.

        • Anne November 9, 2016 at 6:30 am

          I ‘spend’…>.>

      • Anne November 9, 2016 at 6:30 am

        Definitely; hurray for excitement! I know…sometimes I spend up to 2 hours to create something that looks ‘okay’ and is legit at the same time.

        • Jackie B November 11, 2016 at 3:58 pm

          Blogging can be so challenging sometimes. Why do we do this to ourselves again? 😉

  • Jasmine November 4, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I haven’t heard of this book before. The title and the cover seems interesting. Your check list of this book is great! hehe.. I hope this series is not too long. “Trapped, scared” and overwhelmed” sounds like an intense read. I will look for this book at my library. Thanks for a great review once again! 🙂

    • Jackie B November 8, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      The series is only three books– which is pretty short for adult fantasy in most cases. If you are into fantasy and are looking for something new, I’d certainly encourage you to read it. The checklist really sold it for me too! 🙂

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