Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, Yeine is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, she is named an heiress to the king. Winner of the 2011 Locus Award for Best First Novel.
So, along comes a fantasy novel I wish I’d written, a tale of high magic, a palace in the sky, a barbarian princess in over her head, a seductive god with many hands, who comes when you call him in the night.... It’s not new, but it’s new to me, so I’m going to tell you about it ... a perfect book for people who want sex, romance and full-bodied characters along with their battles and lore. I found myself marveling, as the gears started to crank and I started to be drawn into Jemsin’s world, at just how well she did everything—voice, writing, plot ... We do need diverse books, and this is an excellent one ... I found The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms innovative in asking readers to understand a lavishly developed magical world with a lot of unfamiliar features, plus the history and intrigue of a political system, plus the active pantheon of gods taking part in affairs. That is a lot to keep straight when the task is to write a page-turner, and Jemsin pulled it off.
This standalone high fantasy manages to be both dense and smooth: it’s rich with mystery, romance, politics, and theology, but it reads faster and feels shorter than its 400-odd pages, thanks in large part to its terrific narrative voice ... I love a tight, distinct narrative voice, and this is my favorite kind, one whose form matters just as much as its content. Yeine is an outsider, smart and tough, but neither superhuman nor an author stand-in: among other things, she’s still grieving for her mother and she retains the prejudices of her matriarchal home. I like her irony and her passion and the rhythm of her narration ... After I finished the book, I wondered if it was almost overstuffed, but everything is so thoroughly connected that I can’t say that anything should have been left out. I didn’t question this while I was reading, however, because the book is beautifully paced, with plot happenings and worldbuilding revelations coming at just the right intervals to make the book extremely hard to put down.
...'is it worth the fuss?', yes, absolutely. In Yeine, Jemisin has created a character with a strong and distinctive voice, not to mention an uncompromising attitude ... There is a positively Miltonian flavour to the pantheon of downcast gods with whom Yeine allies herself, yet I also enjoyed the way they are also invested with what I suppose we must call 'humanity' as well. There is a lack of perfection about them and Yeine which appeals. There is also a certain lack of perfection in the novel, with raw edges showing, tiny loose threads hanging here and there, odd moments of untidiness that I'm not convinced will be addressed by the next volume of what turns out, inevitably, to be a trilogy. I admit that my heart sank when I looked at this novel's title page and saw 'Book One of the Inheritance Trilogy,' and whether those loose threads really need to be addressed, I'm not sure, for they seem to emerge as much from the oral story forms from which this novel draws its energy...as from any editorial carelessness. The vigour of the storytelling is such that, for once, I can honestly say that I found this novel extremely difficult to put down, and keenly anticipate the sequel. I find it very difficult to envisage where this story can go next, and I desperately want to see.