Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Broken Kingdoms

If you have not read "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" by NK Jemisin, then please stop reading this and get the first book and read the hell of it.

Ok, this is the second book of this series.  It takes place on a very well realized fantasy world.  The basics are this:  There are three Gods who respectively Light, Darkness, and Twilight.  Between them they have created the universe and filled it with godlings and people.  Long ago the Gods had a big fight and Light came out the winner.  Because of that the Goddess of Twilight was dead, and the God of darkness was enslaved and used as a weapon by Light's chosen people.

In the first book, a lowly noblewoman from a far away land is sent to the capital to be a catspaw in a game of politics, power, and godhood.  By the end, there were many reversals and now there is a new Goddess of Twilight, the God of Darkness has been freed, and The God of Light has been banished to be a mortal. 

All this is unknown to this novels heroine.  All she knows is that ten years ago there was a huge blast of magic, a magic of growth.  How does she know this?  Well Oree might be blind of sight, but she can see magic.  It was only natural for her to go to the city of Sky where most of the world's magic is concentrated including a huge "world tree" that came from that blast of magic.  Oree makes her living selling art, but she doesn't sell her true art for fear of persecution. 

One thing about Sky that makes it different is that is the only earthly place where the godlings are allowed to go.  They have to varying degrees tried to fit in with the mortals but it's not exactly a good fit.  Oree has had a relationship with one Godling but it didn't end well, though they are still on friendly terms (Note: always end relationships with godlike beings on a GOOD note).  Her current roommate is odd even for Sky.  He isn't a godling, but if he dies he automatically resurrects.  Also, he glows to oree's magic sight every morning.  He isn't the easiest roommate, he never talks and he sometimes just kills himself for no reason.

If things seem complicated for Oree now, it only gets worse.  Soon Godlings are ending up dead, which shouldn't be able to happen.  The local church police fall into suspecting Oree and her roommate, and there is another force stalking her.  Soon she is on the run and forced to need the help of her friend whom she has given the name of "Shiny."

This is a great book, as great as the first.   The characters are sharply drawn and never feel cliched.  The world is just a wonderous place where you might bump into the Godling of discarded things, or some other bit of strangeness on every street.  The author takes the rules she sets up for the characters and their magic and uses them to just wrench your mind like a nuclear power pinball machine.  Most of all, there's an emotional depth and maturity here that makes things that would have been Harlequin/twilight/bodiceripping into something that feels real.

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