The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemison

100 K KingdomsThe King brought his grand-daughter Yeine to the palace after his disowned daughter died.  She is now in competition with her aunt and uncle for inheritance of the Kingdom, the palace, and the killing devices. What are the odds the pretty princess is going to die real soon?

Small, because she’s the view-point character – but there’s a whole lot that can be done that does not actually end in death. And her opponents – relatives and otherwise – are very smart.

The Good:check-mark

  • Yeine, a  Barbarian Princess (TM) is proud of her skill with the knife, but she realizes very quickly that there are any number of other ways she can be harmed.
  • The Gods are prisoners. What? Yes. The Bright God won, and the Dark God and all others are trapped. Slaves.  And they don’t like it.
  • Economics!  There are whole societies outside of the palace, and they trade and do business with each other – while keeping a weather eye on the palace.
  • Beautiful Barbarian Princess (TM) does not come complete with Barbarian Boyfriend (TM) and she does not seem to fall in love with anyone in the palace. Are you sure this is a legitimate novel? (anagram for loven)
  • The Bad Guy is – Wicked Aunt and Uncle, of course, but who else? Wow, Yeine  figured out out faster than me.

The BadThe Bad:

  • Wicked Aunt Princess shows how Evil(TM) she is by keeping the god of destruction on a leash and taking him to bed whenever she wants.  Yawn, rape as proof of Evil(TM), can anyone please be more imaginative? (and torture.) That it is a woman doing it does not make it better.
  • The Sky Palace is literally in the sky, balanced on a pole. How does that work for people who have to go in and out, for food deliveries, etc?

Double TakeThe Double Take

  • A god of day, a god of night, and a god of…. twilight?  Cool! So many possibilities.
  • According to a children’s rhyme, the god of Youth plucked the sun from the sky to use as a ball. He did. Just not the one from his own world. Also the planets make most excellent marbles.
  • Flashbacks to the gods being used as weapons. Wow. Be careful of the what you pray for…
  • The god’s attributes are reversed to punish them – the Dark is punished with light, and Youth is punished with old age.
  • When Yeine  and one of the gods go to bed (consent issues solved: check the Hero box), it has startling side effects.

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