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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: The Kingdom of Gods

Last year, I reviewed The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and praised it as some of the most innovative fiction written. Then I reviewed the sequel, The Broken Kingdoms with faint praise, and opened up the Kingdom of Gods with trepidation: the trendline indicated that it was going to completely suck.

I was pleasantly surprised. The Kingdom of Gods shows us the Jemisin can innovate even when writing sequels. In the past, the story focused on the human or partly human characters. This time, we see the world from the point of view of one of the Godlings, in particular, one of my favorite characters from the first novel, Sieh, the oldest godling, whose domain is that of children and is the pantheon's Trickster's god. If you think that's difficult to pull off, you'd be right, but Jemisin pulls it off. Part of it is she cheats: very early on, Sieh loses his powers and effectively becomes a mortal for a large part of a novel, regaining his powers only on occasion.

Nevertheless, the plot is satisfying as we are presented with one mystery after another. Even better, even though my initial ideas were correct, Jemisin succeeded in making me question whether she was going to take things in that direction. The side plots and exposition of how being a god works in her world is exciting and fun, and we get to see the consequences of events in earlier novels in great detail. Nearly everything gets resolved in the end, though my copy of the book has a short story that also serves to tie up loose ends in the previous novel.

As with previous novels, this one is entirely self-contained and doesn't suffer from sequel-itis. You see references to prior novels and previous novels, but there's no need to read them at all if you don't want to, and this is a good enough novel that it'll have you on the edge of your seat once you start. It's a great novel and I have no hesitation about recommending it to anyone.

1 comment:

Vikram Adukia said...

Thanks for not putting in spoilers, I'm actually on this book now after seeing your previous review of Hundred Thousand Kingdoms