6437061If you’re a fan of high, epic, wonderfully done fantasy and you only have one book you are allowed to read this year, make it The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the first book in the Inheritence Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, was first recommended to me by a regular customer of mine.  We have a lot of the same book interests in common, and we would always chat it up a bit when he came in, and one conversation this book came up.

He was really enthusiatic about it, going on and on about how awesome it was, and I should really read it because it was just that good.

Now normally, I don’t jump on the recommendation bandwagon when someone goes off on it like he did, mostly because nine times out of then, the item as been built up so much by the other person’s hype, it falls short of my expectations.  But this one slipped through my filters, and I’m quite happy it did.

The story is, just like he said, really, really good.  It about a young girl from the barbaric highlands named Yeine, who just so happens to be the granddaughter of the most powerful man on the continent, who also happens to be the ruler of the most ruthless people in the world, the Arameri.

The Arameri are the kind of aristocrats who way back in the day got bored of the normal kinds of meat such as pig, cow, and chicken, and decided to try out the ‘other’ white meat of various races and ages.  And the custom is still in practice as a delicacy within the world’s current timeline.  Eww.

Anyways her mum, who has been exiled from the Arameri for years because she fell in love with the wrong man dies, and Yeine’s granddaddy calls her home to compete with her two cousins over the throne that his decrepit old butt is still somehow managing to keep warm.

And when I say compete, I mean fight to the death.  It’s made clear from day one that of Yeine and her cousins, only one will survive to be the new ruler.

But the interesting thing about the Arameri is that they also control gods.  Once upon a time, in the beginning if the universe, there were the gods of light and dark who were enemies, brothers, and lovers.  Then the goddess of the dawn and twilight came into being, and the god of the dawn didn’t like that.  He was also the god of order, the god of dark was chaos, and the goddess was the balance between the two: dawn and twilight, life and death.  So the goddess starts to create life on the perfect little world that the god of light made, as well as sleeping with both her brothers (hey, it worked for the Greek gods…).  But the god of light turns out to be the jealous sort, and sets out to kill his sister.

Of course the god of darkness revolts against this idea, and while the god of light wins in killing the goddess, he casts out his brother and all the godling children of various human elements from the heavens and binds them into human form to serve the descendants of his chosen people, the Amn.

There.  Now you’re up to speed.

It’s been thousands of years since the god of darkness and his ‘children’ have been bound and banished, and never once have they given up hope for their freedom.  And for good reason too, because through a little deus ex machina, the key to their salvation walks right into their hands: Yeine.

This book has everything in it.  It’s got a big old ‘who-dunnit’ as Yeine suspects that her mum was murdered and tries to sniff it out.  It’s got layer upon layer of intrigue which makes the books so juicy my mouth is watering just remembering it, it’s got murder, mayhem, power run amok and wielded like a scalpel, it’s even got a love story between Yeine and the bound god of darkness.

Now I read romance books, but nothing I have read in a long time come close to what I saw here between these two characters.  Such warmth and emotion…and I am such a sap I almost cried at the end over those two.

Now the reason why I say it’s a little lauded gem despite all goodness packed inside it, is because it’s the kind of hole-in-the-wall book that would only really get around via word of mouth.  The cover art looks more sci fi than fantasy, so there goes a good chunk of fan base right there.  It’s a dense read with all the political maneuverings and investigating that’s going on, so there goes another bit there because not a lot of people are into that.

Plus I don’t think it’s had the financial/overly enthusiastic backing to really push it into mainstream.

But if you can get past the cover, stick with it through the story, and you like reading stuff that’s a little off the beaten path; then please, pick up Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Enjoy folks.

Up next: Tricked by Kevin Hearne

12700306Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.