Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
by N. K. Jemisin

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Until the announcement of the 2011 Hugo award finalists, N.K. Jemison was an author unknown to me. She is one of five finalists on that listing with her debut novel the fantasy The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

I read the publisher’s blurb on the back cover and almost went into anaphylactic shock (I do not do mix well with standard extruded fantasy products) – herewith one "high" fantasy novel. Here and now I say ignore that blurb: read the book!

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is possibly the most inventive fantasy I have read. The book resembled its blurb only in passing. And is one of the most difficult books to review without creating spoiler alerts; and I enjoyed it immensely.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a story told at two levels: it is a power play by gods who have been exiled from the pantheon and are using people as cats’ paws to regain their former divine status; and three human cousins, each a designated heir of the pre-eminent tribe, the Arameri, within the hundred thousand kingdoms, seeking to determine who will be the surviving leader of the Arameri. Just make life interesting the Arameri are able to wield the fallen gods as weapons and the higher one is in the ranks of the Arameri tribe the more power one has. Most unusually for a fantasy novel the action of the story (and there is a lot of infighting as action) happens across a two to three week period.

N. K. Jemisin, in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, has created a story that is both bizarre and believable with characters, gods and humans, whose actions and motivations ring true. I understand now why this book is on the Hugo award list. Even if this book is not this year’s winner, this is one book those who are looking for something just that little bit different should read. But wear your seatbelts, because you’re in for one hell of a ride.

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