12 June 2012

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Finally, I am managing to get another book reviewed for the Once Upon A Time Challenge, hosted by Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings, a very high quality blog and a great challenge host.  More than likely this will be my last for the challenge, but I guess you never do know!  If you missed my first OUAT review, it was a doosey so you check it out.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Audiobook narrated by Casaundra Freeman
2011 Hugo Award Nominee
Got it from: Public Library Audiobooks
11h 47m

I’ll try to untwist this.  Yeine is still mourning the death of her mother when she is summoned to the capital city (for all intents and purposes) of the hundred thousand kingdoms.  There, she finds out she is heir to the throne held by her grandfather, the man she believes killed her mother.  Before she can take the throne, she has to navigate the city, Sky, which stands ½ mile from the ground, which essentially means, try not to get killed by any of the psychopaths, gods, or vengeful others lurking around the city before being killed by her own grandfather.  That makes sense, right?

THTK was a living, breathing thing.  It is not enough to say that I read or listened to it.  I was in it.  I could feel Nahadoth in the car with me, which was freaky as hell (I was listening to the audiobook if you didn’t already catch that), and I have never had a clearer picture of such a strange cast of characters in all my life.

Despite the fact that the characters and universe were so far removed from anything I was familiar with, it made so much sense anyway.  The internal logic of the place was scary good and I kept thinking to myself, “he would do that, because…”, as if they were real people who I had some kind of personal experience with, and then realize I had been thinking about how and why what just happened was perfect and then have to rewind and listen again.

On a side note: Sometimes the littlest things can tear apart an entire world.  When they stink, made-up curses can really close the door on a world for me.  That being said, I loved the way Casaundra Freeman read their exclamation “demons!”  It was really fabulous and made me wish it wouldn’t instantly transform me into a total weirdo if I said it in public.

Hell on Earth
100k included some really super cool gods, super scary nobility and also Nahadoth (see him behind the city there...), who was one of the scariest things of my entire life.  I sort of pictured him like some creepy K horror-looking creep.  As scary as he was, I was not prepared for the scene with all the hands!  For those who have read this – please tell me you know what I’m saying!  It was creepy right?  If you haven’t, I was literally tingling all over and put my hand to my mouth (for the record, I don’t advocate driving with only one hand nor listening to books that take all your attention from the road).  But Nahadoth was only one of many conspirators, conjurors and evil bastards who find their way into this novel and thanks to Jemisin’s graphic and dark style, I found it very easy to experience, not just listen to, all the horrific goings-on.  Especially the godsex.  Disturbing.  Exciting.  Weird.  Weird.

Coming off of two great fantasy reads, The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, I was really nervous this might not entertain.  I was pleasantly disappointed in that regard.  Certainly not funny like the last two of the last three Fantasy titles I’ve read (I think I like comedic fantasy – is that a thing?) but demons was it dark!  And you know how much I like that.  The pace and timing of 100k was amazing and nerve-wracking and hard to get over, so be ready not only to enjoy this, but to live through it!  I know I will definitely be picking up more of Jemisin’s work in the future.


  1. I read this one last year, when it was nominated for a Nebula, and really enjoyed it. There was a certainly Zelazny allure in it.

    1. Hmm... I hadn't made that connection. That's interesting though. I'm gonna think on it.

  2. I had to listen to the first 40 minutes twice, because I'm not used to listening to fantasy novels, and am totally dependent on being able to flip back and forth when I'm getting used to unusual names in stories, but once I adjusted, I loved the characters and plot. Plus, I really loved the different voices that the narrator employed; at first it took me by surprise, but I was very impressed in the end.

    1. The names were tough at first. I probably should have listened to some of that a second time as well :)


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