Book Review: The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin

Kingdom of GodsThe Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Inheritance Trilogy

Publisher: Orbit (October 2011)

Author Infonkjemisin.com

Wendy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s taken me almost three years to finally finish The Inheritance Trilogy Omnibus. As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, the previous books tied me up in emotional knots. This one? Not so much.

This book follows the godling, Sieh, son of the Three who created the world and all who live in it. Their love and their jealousy almost broke that very same world and killed many of their children. At the end of the Gods War, Sieh, his father Nahadoth, and several other godlings ended up trapped in mortal bodies, enslaved to the whims of Arameri people. When they were finally freed, they had their revenge against the god Itempas who allowed the Arameri to imprison them, by exiling him to mortality. But through all of the hate in millennia that past, there was always love, and that is what Jemisin explores through the eyes of a god whose nature is that of childhood, who in turn is cursed with mortality again and forced to grow up, literally and emotionally.

Unfortunately, this was all very tedious for me. Particularly because of Sieh’s nature. He is a trickster god, the god of play, and his antithesis is growing up. A Peter Pan, per se, who constantly has to remind you about all of that. And about the nature of all the other gods and godlings he meets, as well as the arrogant Arameri that rule the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, two of whom Sieh is in love with. This book is also about the depths of loneliness that Sieh experiences and sees in those he lovehates – which Jemisin also frequently reminds the reader of.

The significant difference between this book and its predecessors is that it is told in first person through the eyes of a godling who perhaps believes he knows more about mortals and gods than he actually does. The natures of the different dieties and the mortals is part of how Sieh sees the world and interacts with it. But it was frustrating for me as the reader to deal with the constant reminders. Perhaps if the story had been told through Shahar Arameri, the heir to the Arameri kingdom, I would have appreciated this book more.

Along with her twin, Dekarta, and Sieh, Shahar makes up the third in an unusual tryptic whose friendship threatens everything. That’s not the major threat though. Similar to The Broken Kingdoms, there is a group and a sudden new enemy, conveniently hidden away all this time, who seeks to end both the Arameri reign, and the reign of the gods. The Big Bad – Kahl – is meant to pull on the heart strings when we discover who he is, but his existence lacked enough justification for me to feel anything for either him, or for Sieh because of him.

Magic and the power of the gods themselves feature prominently, with particular focus on how that magic is distributed through the bloodlines. I always love unique explorations of magic in fantasy stories, and for the most part, this doesn’t fail me, particularly with the newer godlings and demons learning what they can go do with their abilities. Still, some of their abilities seem a bit too convenient, and the characters themselves not fleshed out quite enough for me to appreciate them.

Two whole stars go to the appearances of Nahadoth, whom I’ve already gushed over in a character appreciation post. The Nightlord is a beautiful and elegant creature of chaos. We have seen him in wrath, in utter desolation, in sadistic pleasure, and in passionate and complete love. Here, we get to see yet another side to his mutable appearance, as a parent who loves his child dearly. Because, while I am disappointed in this book as a whole, I have always loved Jemisin’s gods and her exploration of their volatile emotions and relationships. Perhaps an entire book from Sieh’s point of view was too much, but Jemisin still gave me an interesting insight into the very human nature of creatures who believe themselves to be well above mortals.
758dc-new3stars

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21 Comments on “Book Review: The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin

    • In a way, it’s kind of a relief. The other two were so emotionally draining that this one was a nice break. At least it had all the closure necessary that I can move on. 🙂

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  1. Damn. So putting the godling’s front and center makes things hard. Would have been cool if it had worked; lots of books about people affected by various trickster gods but not so many about them.

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    • Putting the dieties at the front makes things very interesting, even though it didn’t quite work for me. It ready very well from Sieh’s voice — the repetition about his nature and about how things work for gods makes sense. Unfortunately, that repetition got tedious after a while.

      Still, it might work for you. I was so emotionally invested in the other books that I guess I was expecting the same, so that likely coloured my perception.

      Either way, I really like how deeply this series has explored the personality of the gods, though, which is pretty rare.

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  2. It sucks the big one that after three years of emotional turmoil, the trilogy has to end on such a meh note for you.. I enjoy Gods are secondary characters, but I don’t know how one would fair as a protagonist, apparently in N.K. Jemisin’s case not very well.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

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    • It was disappointing, but at the same time, not horribly so. The exploration of the gods has been a fascinating and emotional ride, and I don’t mind that she took the risk with telling the story from the god’s PoV for the last of it. It didn’t quite work for me, but I can still appreciate the efforts and the uniqueness of it.

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  3. Having recently finished “The Broken Kingdoms”, and finding myself a little less enthusiastic about it than I was about the first book in the trilogy, I’m now somewhat worried about the conclusion of this series. And it’s a pity, because I found that Sieh was a very, very fascinating character….

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    • I initially didn’t like the second as much, but it drew me in eventually and now I love it just as much. But the third, I didn’t connect with as much.

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  4. I feel terrible because I’ve heard awesome things about Jemison’s work – but I haven’t read a word of it yet. I take it you recommend the first book in the Inheritance Trilogy? (Forgot what it’s called…)

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    • I love love love The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms was very good too. This certainly had its merits, as did her other series, The Dreamblood, but I had issues with them as well. I still recommend them all though. So many unique things about them that still make them worthwhile, such as the magic and the gods. Jemisin does and excellent job with her worldbuilding around those elements.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I still love the first book and the second was almost as good. I still recommend the trilogy as a whole, even if it didn’t end as well as I’d have liked.

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