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N. K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

nkjemisin_htkI must now praise The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the debut novel from N. K. Jemisin.  Before I do anything else.

It was recommended to me by someone who shares many of my tastes in fantasy literature, so I was expecting it to be good, but I have to say that it was better than that.  It has what so many stories marketed as genre fantasy don’t have, and that’s originality.

This story is about enslaved gods and imperial politics and family history and creation mythologies and (briefly) hideous prisons with gelatinous ex-human prisoners, and it isn’t like anything else I’ve read.  The closest analogy that comes to my mind is Neil Gaiman (for the god angle), but this is far from a Gaiman knockoff.  Like almost all of the fantasy that I like best, this one builds an entire world from scratch and shows it to us piece by piece, when the story requires it.  There’s a sense, at the end, that there’s so much about this world that we haven’t been shown yet.  But we want to know more because it’s an interesting place.

Fortunately, there are two more books planned for this trilogy (How do you tell if it’s a fantasy novel?  It’s part of a trilogy!), so we’ll learn more about this world soon.  You can sign me up for the next two books right now.

John Scalzi featured Jemisin in his Big Idea series, and I recommend reading that post to get a feel for what the book is all about.

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