In the second chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Yeine begins her tour of her new home, only to have a horrifying confrontation with what her future will hold. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Chapter Two: The Other Sky
With every turn of the page, this book gets way more disturbing. Count me in, y’all. This is some fascinating worldbuilding. It really is! And if you’ve been following me for a while, you totally know that this is my thing. All of my favorite series that I’ve covered for this site – Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, the Tortall books – were all such immersive experiences for me, and it was a delight to get lost in something that I had not imagined myself. I love the idea of creating entire societies, full universes with their own rules, characters that may resemble things in our world but are still bizarre or strange. This chapter gives me a lot of information about different kingdoms, about social customs, and then N.K. Jemisin hits me with PURE TERROR, and everything is unfair, and why would you do that to me. 🙁
So! Some things I learned in this chapter:
- The city of Sky is actually newer than Darre by nearly 1,500 years.
- I’m reluctant to assign any sort of definition to what sort of world this is, but it’s definitely not a land of electricity or motors; there are no futuristic motifs that I’ve seen yet. We know there are boats and horse-drawn carriages, so it feels somewhat like a traditional fantasy in that sense. I do see how this could be quantified as a fantasy story, but it also doesn’t feel like anything I’ve read either.
- OKAY SO ALL THE INFO ABOUT THE GODS IS SUPER FASCINATING TO ME. So the “heavens” are a physical place in this world? I’m assuming that the gods Yeine speaks of “who were not loyal” were ejected from heaven, but is that also related to their lack of worshippers? I also feel like this explains Yeine’s reference to “weapons” in the last chapter. The “weapons” that Itempas gave her people were gods. They’re trapped in “tangible vessels” and only used to wreak terror on other nations. WITH PLAGUES. OR ENTIRE POPULATIONS DISAPPEARING. OR THE EARTH OPENING UP AND EATING PEOPLE.
- T’vril serves as both Yeine’s guide in Sky and as a form of exposition for the reader, but he’s also an intriguing character parallel when you think of his role and what Yeine must do. Both of them are halfbreeds in a city where pure bloodlines are vital. However, T’vril’s knowledge gives him a distinct advantage, which is fascinating once you realize that it’s also his lack of familial importance that keeps him out of trouble. Well, for the most part.
- “Alas, their elder sister met with an unfortunate accident, or so the official story goes.” OKAY, I AM SO INTO T’VRIL’S ATTITUDE. He lets slip all these tidbits that are communicated only through his subtle use of sarcasm or irony, and I want to know so much more. What happened to the elder sister???
- Because of Yeine’s official “adoption” into the Arameri family, she is now afforded all the privileges of being an Arameri. In another context, this would be a blessing, particularly the power and wealth that comes with it. However, this is clearly a goddamn nightmare for Yeine!
- OKAY THAT WHOLE BIT ABOUT THE AGE OF CONSENT IS SO DISTURBING BECAUSE IT COMES OFF AS BEING MORAL AND THEN T’VRIL CASUALLY REVEALS THAT THE HIGHBLOODS KIND OF GET AWAY WITH WHATEVER THEY WANT ANYWAY.
- What the fuck is this book.
- Then we get to the mysterious (and, frankly, utterly frightening) need for people in the city of Sky to have blood sigil marks. Initially, I thought this was an issue of simply identifying what family people belong to, a way of visually marking people with their ethnic background, in a sense, except then there’s something called the Enefadeh? And you have to have a sigil before it becomes nighttime because ?????? WHY? WHY MUST YOU HAVE ONE?
- Oh, right, then we find out that the servants in Sky are ALL FAMILY. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. ALL THE ARAMERI ARE TAKEN TO SKY REGARDLESS OF THEIR OWN LIVES, AND FUCKING HELL, THIS IS SO DISTURBING.
I was happily enjoying all of this information, pleased that I was getting a decent grasp of this fictional world, and then that man appears. Every fucking thing about his appearance is completely unnerving. Of course, it only gets worse once Scimina is revealed to be standing alongside this man. SERIOUSLY? ALREADY? Knowing that Scimina will have to compete with Yeine to become air, you better believe I expected a confrontation of some sort. And yet, that helped me not one bit as this book took a turn for pure terror.
I don’t understand this! Why is there a chain connected to Nahadoth? What happens when he gasps? What are the fucking rules surrounding the lack of blood sigils on the Arameri in Sky? WHY WAS NAHADOTH HIDING HIS FACE? And what the hell does this mean???
I felt it then. I think I had felt it since the man’s gasp – a shiver of the atmosphere. A vase rattled nearby. There was no visible cause for this, but somehow I knew: somewhere, on an unseen plane, a part of reality was shifting aside. Making room for something new.
I UNDERSTAND NONE OF THIS!!!! Which doesn’t mean I’m not mortified by it, because y’all, I have goosebumps right now reading this section again. Why does Yeine recognize who – no, what – this man is???
Gods, what a terrifying cliffhanger to leave us with. Well, I’m sure everyone kept reading except me because what is this??? What did Nahadoth turn into or invite into this world? Why the silence? WHY THE SILENCE?
Y’all did this to me. Your fault. IT’S YOUR FAULT.
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