Persephone Book Club — The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

It’s here! It’s here! It’s book club weekend!

Ok, you fabulous bookish, nerdy, wonderful folks, hop in this open thread and discuss The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I can’t wait to read what everyone has to say.

 Once again, our book selection is part of a published trilogy. I’m willing to put cash on the barrel and bet that some of you ran out to finish the other two as soon as you put The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms down. Please put any discussion of the following novels behind a spoiler cut as a courtesy.

This thread will be open all weekend. Feel free to say as much as you want, as often as you want.

A couple of potential discussion points:

 

There was a creation myth in this novel. Did this work for you or did it merely explain the history of the God’s War? (Women of Fantasy Book Club)

Jemisin was careful to include the physical differences as well as the cultural ones between the Northern folk of Darre and those living in Sky.  How different do you feel the cultures actually are?  Or are the two more similar than the distinction appearances Yeine persists in noticing? (Women of Fantasy Book Club)

Discuss the social commentary the book engages in — there’s critique of patriarchal versus matriarchal societies, the corruption of power, and racial relations. Do you feel the book is successful in interweaving this into the story?

Discuss Yeine ““ did you find her character arc satisfying? Did you predict where she would end up at the close of the novel? For a warrior from a warrior’s culture, did you find her a proactive protagonist?

Published by

[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

37 thoughts on “Persephone Book Club — The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”

  1. I think it’s interesting that a lot of people find Yeine so passive, especially compared to Oree in the next novel.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and the thing about Yeine is, I think she is realistically and pragmatically proactive.  To be a little trite, she has the serenity to accept the things she cannot change, and the courage to change the things she can.  She definitely tries to do what she can for Darr, and to go off with a “fuck you” to the Arameri.  But she also is capable and willing to accept things she cannot change – things the gods have done to her and can do to her, and not waste her energy mucking around with that.  I do understand how she can seem passive, but to me, she’s just picking her battles and understanding that while a lot of big things are happening around her and to her that she can’t control, she can at least take the time and effort to change the things she can and try to leave the world a better place when she’s gone.  I compare that to Oree, who in the end makes less of an impact on the big happenings of her story than Yeine, and who when she tries to get involved a lot of times just ends up screwing things up worse.  I think there’s a strength and a wisdom to Yeine being passive when necessary and choosing to focus on the areas where she can have an effect, and I think her way of choosing where to be passive/proactive builds very well into the goddess-Yeine we see in the next two books.

  2. I really did like this novel (as well as the second, but my attention drifted during the third) but I thought it was very obviously a first novel. I don’t have examples right at hand, but there were several parts of the novel where the story didn’t quite gel  in a way that seemed ‘new novelist’. However, I loved the mythology, I loved the concept of the slave-gods, and I plowed through to the end in a matter of hours.

    My biggest beef with the book was with Yienne. I found her shockingly passive at times. She seemed buffeted around a lot and passive in her own fate at times. I was really bothered when she seems resolved to just die at the end — and then is resurrected through no effort of her own. She’s not a direct focus in the next two novels but she does appear. I do like her better after the ascension, though I don’t know if that’s just because she only appears at times.

        1. I read it a few months ago and am struggling to remember it in detail, but I definitely had a bit of a “Huh?” moment at the end. I didn’t want her to die, but I was confused as to what was going on. I thought maybe I was just having a reading comprehension fail and had missed something leading up to it, but it sounds like everyone else pretty much felt the same way. The sequels are actually stronger, which is rare in trilogies. The sex gets dirtier, but I didn’t mind it because I am a perv. :)

  3. One of my favorite aspects of this book – and the reason I found it so refreshing – is the unique perspective you’re given into Yeine’s head and her world. Unlike a lot of fantasy today, which are world-sprawling epics or chock full of quick and dirty gritty realism, this story had just enough high-level world-building paired with the first-person perspective to give it that human touch. The best of both worlds. I felt like the mythology, cultures and geography were blended together just enough to set them apart from the rest of the fantasy scene while leaving a lot up to my imagination.

    All that said Yeine kinda bugged me as a protagonist. Which is fine – I still really enjoyed the story but I remember when I put it down thinking how fabulous my overall impression was while not being entirely sold on Yeine. I wasn’t terribly impressed that she sacrificed herself and became a goddess – I thought that was going to turn out differently. I’d really been expecting her to die. It was a bit of a shrug-it-off moment for me. There was something passive about her acceptance of her place in Arameri society that didn’t sit well – especially with how the Darre culture was built up. It’s been awhile since I read the books so I can’t recall exact examples why I felt that way. It’s honestly a minor quibble. The protagonist of the second book was my personal favorite in the trilogy so if you felt like I did about Yeine I’d suggest sticking around for that one.

    1. Yes, the ending didn’t play out how I expected. And I just finished it last night, so maybe it’s because I haven’t had time to process it fully, but I don’t feel like the whole ‘her turning into a goddess’ aspect was really explained very well. It felt rushed.

    2. Agreed. I love huge epic GRRM/Robert Jordan fantasies with dozens of POVs, but it was definitely refreshing to just have one narrator to worry about. It was a bit disconcerting at first that the sequels start over with new narrators, but I loved them.

      1. Dying laughing at this:

        And no, none of the names mean anything, and I didn’t consult a linguist to make the languages internally consistent, and I’m aware that some of the patterns of pronunciation contradict each other. Some of this is because the book is set in a multicultural society; that list of characters represents at least 7 different cultures, including that of the gods themselves (remember, they have their own language), each with its own naming conventions, and the usual overlap between cultures with frequent close contact. Some of it, however, is because I just made them up.

        I love the zero fucks given attitude about it.

  4. I adore this book and recently finished the last one of the trilogy. One reason I adore this series is the commentary on ways of thinking about religion and power and who has it and why they have it from social to personal issues. Also what does it take to hold onto power. I found the author is brilliant at crafting voices for her characters that just feel real. Yeine isn’t my favorite of the three points of view characters but I found her interesting and a great character for introducing the world and how it all fits together.

    The author just came out with the first book of a new trilogy that I look forward to reading.

      1. From what I understand (and I could very well be wrong) her new book is book one of a duology. The first one is out now and the second (quick glance at amazon) is released in June. I haven’t picked the first up yet but it looks pretty intriguing! I also like not having to wait another year for completion of a story. Though it was totally worth it with her first trilogy.

    1. I did like the religion/power commentary and the whole idea of how the victors shape the story – both in the God’s War, where Enefa becomes the betrayer, and with the Arameri society in general, where their perversions are civilized but the Darre are barbarians.

      1. Oh yes, the winner writing history was definitely felt throughout it and then gets played with in the later books as the same wars are seen from different perspectives. The world building and character building is so solid.

  5. OKAY I FINISHED IT.

    I loved the matriarchal/patriarchal commentary about Darr.  Really.  Because it wasn’t like everything was different – it was just a different perspective.  The fact that men were unlikely to cry was seen as one of their weaknesses.  It seemed really natural.

    I also really loved how, in the end, she basically said that universes without gods will go through some really terrible times, and then realize that they don’t need gods to keep themselves peaceful.

    Regarding Yeine – I need to re-read, but I’m not sure I totally buy into her as a god.  She was driven, and strong-willed.  But she just didn’t seem…special enough?  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I related to her too well, so when she was strong enough to become a goddess, it just seemed strange to me.

    Also, I could have done without all the sexy sex.  What, I’m a prude.

          1. I definitely liked Yeinne-as-goddess better in the second two books. I was disappointed in the way she went like a lamb to slaughter in the final scene and then suddenly ascended to godhood. It made sense looking back from the end of the book to the hints weaved throughout, but it seemed both out of the blue and out of character in a sense.

            1. I agree. Yeine definitely has the longest view of the various characters which makes her fascinating but confusing. She’s still not my favorite of the characters but the way her story threads through all the books makes sense as she’s the catalyst of change.

  6. I liked the creation myth in this book. It was well balanced between traditional stories and her own mythology, so I got to play Place that Myth (which I do almost every time I read a story with mythical elements) but I didn’t get irritated because she was telling traditional stories “wrong”

  7. Question Three:

    Yes, I do believe that the author did an excellent job in the depiction of race relations in the book. She really touched on the idea of white colonialism as well. The Arameri were mostly white, and they held the power over the rest of the world. Their decisions were final. They acted as though they were a very enlightened race when really they were quite barbaric.

    The entire power structure of Sky reminds me of Europe during the 1600s or 1700s. You have the Arameri dynasty, which is like the dynasty of a European kingdom. You also have the lack of religious freedom. The worship of the Skyfather has more or less been forced down many nations’ throats, including the Darre. If anyone spoke out against that religion, they were tortured and put to death as heretics, much like the Catholic church would sentence heretics to punishments and death.

    There is also a certain disdain for the cultures outside of the Arameri; Yeine’s people are called barbarians, not only for their warrior ways, but also for their matriarchal society. Because they do not choose to live as the Arameri do, they are strange and somehow inferior to the Arameri. Again. this is another allusion to the colonialist attitudes seen in Europe.

Leave a Reply