Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review - The Kingdom of Gods, by N. K. Jemisin

The Inheritance Trilogy, by N. K. Jemisin
1. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (My Review)    12/13/2012    * * * *
2. The Broken Kingdoms                  (My Review)     12/31/2012    * * * *
3. The Kingdom of Gods                                            01/26/2013    * * * *

From Goodreads:
The incredible conclusion to the Inheritance Trilogy, from one of fantasy's most acclaimed stars.

For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri's ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.

Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family's interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for.

As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom -- which even gods fear -- is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens?

My Thoughts:
The Kingdom of Gods is the third (and final?) novel in the Inheritance Trilogy, and Jemisin definitely ramps up the action for the conclusion.  While the first two novels were more tightly focused on a specific event and time, The Kingdom of Gods is a bit more sprawling, spanning multiple years and story lines, some of the going back to the beginning of time.  We learn much more about the history of the world first introduced in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and even some additional information about the gods themselves.  But the main focus of the story does revolve around one of the godlings who the reader of the first two novels in the series is already familiar with - Sieh.

Sieh becomes interested in the two current heirs of the Arameri family, Shahar and Dekarta, and forms a bond with them that sets off an unexpected chain of events.  The three of them struggle with their various issues, as their world seems to crumble around them, and before long they realize that not only is their world and way of life at risk, but that an unknown entity may be trying to destroy the entire universe by wiping it out of existence.

As I mentioned above, the first two novels were fairly tightly focused, which worked well in terms of plot and pacing.  Unfortunately, The Kingdom of Gods, being much more widely focused, tends to sprawl a bit and feels messy and disorganized.  The narrative is more difficult to follow at times, and some of the characters behave in ways that don't quite feel true, or realistic, and to me this made the pacing feel off at several key points in the story.  Some of the plot points felt weak as well, with events happening off the page and characters behaving oddly.

However, none of this deterred me from reading the story, or from thoroughly enjoying it.  It's probably not the best book in the series - I personally think that honor belongs to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - but it finishes the over-all story of the world in a mostly satisfying way, and neatly completes the grand story arc begun with the first book in the series. 

In spite of these few missteps, there is much to love about The Kingdom of Gods, including Sieh's personally journey and revelations, and his relationships with Shahar and her brother.  This is where Jemisin really excels anyway, with the chemistry between her various characters and how they relate to each other.

I gave The Kingdom of Gods four stars, the same as The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and highly recommend it, with the caveat that if you try to read them out of order, you do so at your own risk.

Have you read The Kingdom of Gods, or either of the first two novels in the Inheritance Trilogy?  What did you think?  Leave me a comment and let me know - I'd love to hear your thoughts!!


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