Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Kingdom of Gods

NK Jemisin
Completed 4/17/2020, Reviewed 4/17/2020
5 stars

This is the third book in Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.  It follows Sieh, one of the godlings from the first two books, about one hundred years after the second book.  I found this installment just as awesome as the other two.  The only negative I have for it is that it is a tad too long.  Overall, the pacing was really good, but during the third part (out of four), I thought it lost some steam.  It does pick up in a powerful ending, however.  Based on this series and her award-winning Broken Earth trilogy, I’d say Jemisin has become one of my favorite authors.  I’m really looking forward to her Dreamblood duology.

Sieh, the oldest of the godlings, is now free from slavery by the Arameri family.  He is the god of children, mostly appearing as a ten-year-old himself.  He is also the trickster.  Despite his disdain for the Arameris, he still sometimes goes to their palace atop the World Tree, known as Sky.  One day, he happens upon two children, Shahar and Deka.  Over the course of several years, they become friends.  One year, they decide to cement their friendship with a blood oath.  They slit their hands and grasp them together.  Something terribly explosive happens, putting all three in comas.  Shahar and Deka do wake up with some wounds, but Sieh wakes up a mortal.  Shahar it turns out is the heir to the Arameri throne.  As punishment, Deka is sent away to scrivener’s school to learn magic, far from his loving sister, which is her punishment.  Sieh, suddenly an adolescent, stays in Sky, where he tries to figure out how to become a god again and stop the aging process. 

In the meantime, people in the court are showing up dead.  Their bodies are found with masks on.  It is unclear how the masks entered Sky, and who got these people to put them on.  Foul play from one of the kingdoms is assumed, as the Arameri family have many enemies.

This book has a lot more substance than these two plot lines.  Eventually, the three main gods come into play, as well as some of the lesser godlings.  Deka eventually comes back as a powerful scrivener to support his sister.  The murder mystery blows up into a nefarious plot to overthrow the Arameri that involves the three friends and many other characters.  It becomes complicated, but not convoluted.  I found the plot and subplots pretty easy to follow. 

I really loved Sieh.  He’s pretty morally ambiguous, protecting children, but at the same time, willing to kill someone he thinks is human trash, or worthy of death.  He’s the narrator in first person.  Given his loves, hates, and prejudices, he may not be so reliable a narrator.  Still, we really delve deep into his psyche, learning what drives him to think and act as he does.  Besides being friends with Shahar and Deka, he falls in love with them, complicating their relationships and the story as a whole.  Sieh is one messy godling who’s turned into a messy mortal.     

I really loved Jemisin’s writing in this as well as the whole series.  I thought her prose was great and the dialogue was always realistic.  I thought the characterization was great as well.  None of the characters were cardboard cutouts.  Even the godlings who have only limited scenes are realistic.  This may be because we were introduced to most of them in the previous books. 

I give this book five out of five stars.  I think it’s a terrific ending to the series.  I was deeply emotionally invested in the main character throughout the book, even during the slow part.  Initially, I wondered why the third book had to be so long, but most of it was really necessary.  She covers a lot of territory as Sieh grows from adolescent to old man, while only ten or so years pass for everyone else.  So the book is about growing up.  And it is also about loneliness as Sieh struggles with his love for Shahar and Deka.  I’m still amazed that these are the first three books Jemisin wrote.  I think they were all awesome, but this one grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go until the amazing apocalyptic end.

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