The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Read Along Part II

Picabuche sacked out in front of the fire.
Picabuche sacked out in front of the fire.

Welcome back everyone! This week Anya of On Starships and Dragonwings is our host, so make sure to pop over there and see what everyone makes of this section.

A lot of good stuff went down in this past week’s reading, which was Chapters 11-16. Spoilers lurk below!

1) We’ve started to learn about a side of Yeine’s mother that Yeine can barely believe existed. No one in this story seems all that capable of telling the objective truth, however, so who do you think Kinneth really was? A devoted mother? A traitorous schemer? Evil and cruel?

I think Kinneth once was an Arameri woman, raised to be ruthless and selfish and power driven. Then she fell in love with a Darre man and her world was turned upside down. Hence, the Arameri family only really have this one side of Kinneth in their memories, while Yeine has a very different picture of her mother. I think that if Kinneth would have been able to see past her love for her Darre husband to the love many parents feel for their children, then she would have thought twice concerning the bargain offered by the gods, perhaps even have turned it down. Perhaps she thought herself incapable of loving another being as much as she did her husband.

So far, I don’t see cruelty in the tough choice she made concerning her husband’s life for using her unborn child to host a will-o-the-wisp soul of a once powerful goddess.

2) Wow major plot reveal Batman! Finding out about Yeine’s second soul was not something I saw coming at all. Did you suspect? Have any other theories? What do you think of this major plot development? What do you think Yeine should do?

The first time I read this novel, no, I did not suspect this twist at all. I found it quite unique and I loved how Jemisin kept Yeine real. Yeine doesn’t simply take in the info and then become all badass. She doesn’t go on an icecream binge, or run off looking for some bit of trouble to get into in order to forget her life. No, she has a panic attack, loses herself for three days, and then has very strong and conflicting feelings towards the gods we’ve met so far, including lovable Sieh.

I remember vaguely how Yeine moves forward from here so I won’t spoil anything. If I was in her shoes, I would be tempted to give the whole lot of them (Arameri, gods, Sky City) the bird and grab a few fast horses for the trip home and damn the consequences, with plans to wreak vengeance on those who bring any lasting harm to her country. But that would be too much like some Hollywood action flick filmed in Mexico.

3) We’ve gotten to know a lot more about Darr in this section and their traditions have both good and bad sides it seems to me. What do you think of their coming-of-age ritual for the women? What about women soldiers and men being left to protect the children? Any other traditions that struck you?

I remember being a bit shocked the first time I read that scene, with the ritual and public rape. In context, given the Darre culture, it made sense. Not condonable by my personal morals, but logical in some ways. The Darre are a matriarchal society, not just in leadership but in warriors. The men are treasured, nurtured, protected. As a biologist, there are many species throughout Earth in which the females are larger, and so I don’t mind having the men serve instead of lead a nation.

However, we also see through the ritual rape that the Darre also hold the men in something of contempt. Yeine didn’t defeat her chosen male combatant and therefore, he was allowed (required?) by ritual to perpetrate a personal violence against her, in front of all the leaders of the Darre society; and this showed that those leaders held the loser to be too weak to lead.

And then Yeine broke the rules and killed her attacker with a hidden knife. Yes! Not only does this suit my personal morals, it showed the Darre society that she will not simply submit to social ‘norms’ because that is the ritual.

I like that not all the peoples of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms have forgotten the old stories about the gods, and while Yeine may not have been told all those the Darre elders know, at least they have not all been forgotten.

4) The Walking Death played a pretty big role in the past given none of this would have happened if Yeine’s father hadn’t gotten sick. There was discussion in the previous section about how the Death only infects commoners and those of high-birth aren’t affected. What do you think the Death really is? Any theories on why it infects only certain people?

I can’t recall the Walking Death being anything more than simply disease, but if there is a supernatural element to it, I would first looks to all the godlings – what powers do each of them have? Are those powers known to the Arameri? Could Yeine’s grandfather have ordered one of the enslaved gods to set loose a plague that would bring Yeine’s father to death’s door? Perhaps. The Arameri are ruthless enough for this, especially Yeine’s grandfather.

Turning such a plague loose every few years in some low-born area probably helps keeps the kingdoms in line, or at least preoccupied on the home front so they can’t rally support for disassembling Sky City.

5) Finally, we’ve learned a lot more about our enslaved gods between getting to know Nahadoth better, finding out what is up with Sieh, and seeing a rather bitter side of Kurue. What do you think of all these revelations? Has your favorite god changed?

These gods have lived millions if not billions of years, seen and experienced so much. Of course they are going to have some parts of their past that is twisted and I like that Jemisin makes them complicated characters, and not simply one dimensional beings that have a few nifty powers and one or two missions in life.

Favorites… hard to choose. And I remember a bit of what goes down later in the book, so I don’t want to spoil anything. It’s a coin toss between Sieh and Nahadoth. Both can be straight forward, when they want to, but both have very different needs. Oh, and one goes a little crazy twice a day for about 5 minutes at a time. While I find Nahadoth very interesting, I would play checkers only with Sieh.

Other Tidbits:

Yeine’s grandfather may be the biggest villain in this story. Man, I want someone to fling him from the spire, or impale him. I’m not picky.

I think it was very telling that Kinneth’s room was left alone, on order of her father, but then the various servants over the past few decades have been too afraid to question that order ever since.

Yeine shows wisdom in believing that while she resides in Sky City the only possible safe place for personal valuables are in Kinneth’s old hiding place.

Hot kiss scene! 😉

My Fellow Readers:

On Starships & Dragonwings

Violin in a Void

Many a True Nerd

The Little Red Reviewer

7 thoughts on “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Read Along Part II”

  1. “Yeine doesn’t simply take in the info and then become all badass” Excellent point! That is a rather common occurrence in MC’s these days isn’t it, sigh.

    “they can’t rally support for disassembling Sky City.” Very true, basically biological warfare after all!

    “twice a day for about 5 minutes at a time” Hehe, I totally consider day-time Naha to also be crazy, freaking creeper! But now I’m imagining playing checkers with Sieh 😀

    1. Yep, no instant badassness for Yeine. She definitely still digesting all the info she gained, both about her parasitic goddess soul and the info from the library.

      Yeah! Checkers with Sieh!

  2. 1. I wonder what the gods told Kinneth about using Yeine as a vessel for Enefa’s soul though. Did they tell her the truth? Did she know Yeine would have to die for the gods? She seems to have thought Yeine would be dangerous.

    2. I love how Yeine breaks the rules 🙂 There’s a bit where she says the ritual taught her do whatever was necessary to get what she wanted. In some ways she’s totally ruthless. Can’t wait to see what this means later in the book.
    The old stories: Interesting how much information about the gods is hidden or distorted in the mainstream religion. I’ve studied a bit of Christianity and Islam, and it always amazes me how the history and even the texts differ from what most people are told by religious leaders. The ‘truth’ is much more complex and not nearly as squeaky clean as people think.

    1. Very true – Yeine will remake the rules if she is pushed into a corner.

      While I am not of any faith, I do enjoy studying the historical aspects of the various world faiths, so I see what you mean about the closer one is to the historical texts or the historical occurrences, the more complex it is.

  3. 1. She probably didn’t really think the deal through,she just wanted her husband back, the man she gave up everything for. If he had died what would she have done, would she have been able to or want to swallow her pride and go back home? Possibly the moment she realised was she she tried to kill Yeine as a baby. I did like Yeine’s question of whether her father knew or not.

    2. I loved how she reacted to this as well, it feels like a normal reaction. Although I think Nahadoth trying to pull out Enfa’s soul did contribute to her being out for three days. The shock and impact of that flashback really throwing her.

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