This fantasy novel by [livejournal.com profile] nojojojo is the beginning of a series, but stands perfectly well on its own as a complete novel which comes to a satisfactory conclusion. Though some elements will be familiar to fantasy readers, others are strikingly original. I was particularly impressed by the vivid and unusual worldbuilding, and by Jemisin’s daring attempt – which largely succeeds - to create a novel which genuinely reads like an ancient myth written in a modern idiom.

Yeine, the young chieftain of her own small kingdom, is summoned to Sky, a magical palace supported by a mile-high pillar, whose ruling family exerts extraordinary power by means of the four gods they have enslaved. To her shock, she is named one of three possible heirs to the throne – an honor which seems certain to result in her death at the hands of the other two heirs. But she can’t leave without bringing their wrath down upon her beloved kingdom.

While Yeine explores the bizarre palace, meets the gods and servants and family members who inhabit it, and schemes to save her kingdom (first) and herself (second), she also discovers the secrets of her own family history and of her world, which was created by a battle within a family of gods – a battle which, we slowly realize, continues to the present day.

What’s most striking about the novel, apart from the excellent worldbuilding, is how it takes the stuff of myth – gods and the creation of the world – and, rather than demystify it and bring it down to earth as most fantasy writers do, resolutely keeps it mythic. The gods are limited in power due to being magically enslaved, but they still feel like gods, not like human beings with special powers. The sexual tension between Yeine and the chaos god Nahadoth sometimes reads like a familiar romance between a woman and a supernatural being, but sometimes evokes the power of older stories of women and gods. Another element which adds to the sense of an ancient tale retold and re-enacted is the (consensual) incest which so frequently pops up in myth. Who else is a god supposed to have sex with, if all that exists is his or her creations?

The first person who comments to ask for my ARC of this book will get it. If you ask for it, you must agree to review it and then pass it on to someone else who will review it. The content of the review is up to you. Taken!

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Book 1 (The Inheritance Trilogy)
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