Mark Reads ‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Yeine experiences her first full day in Sky as an heir, learning that she hasn’t much time before shit gets real. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

Chapter Six: Alliances

Oh god, I’m really loving how this book both accepts and then completely destroys so many tropes or mainstays of fantasy. It’s like N.K. Jemisin is saying that there’s a reason so many of us like fantasy, but fuck if she’s going to write the same boring shit that everyone else does. There are so many explicit and subtle digs at classism, racism, body hatred, and the horrifying power of political sovereignty that I can’t even deal with this.

For the most part, Yeine observes in chapter six. T’vril acts as a filter for a few of her experiences, especially since he’s the only person here who’s giving her any sort of information of the world that she’s entering. But I appreciate that she’s a silent figure here because it allows me to step into her narration and learn about Sky in a uniquely intimate way, as if I am there myself. I understood immediately that the work that the Consortium does is largely a facade, and that was clear given that Yeine and her fellow heirs don’t talk for four hours. Even the way that the delegates are organized belies the true nature of this organization. But that’s what I find so intriguing about this story so far. As Jemisin examines the economic structure of this world, we get to see how painfully obvious this culture is. They don’t bother to hide their decadence! The Arameri are in control, and they make every effort to demonstrate that. As I mentioned in a previous review, that’s done through height. The fullbloods and royalty occupy the highest floors and provided options to avoid the general citizenry all together. For Yeine, this is a bewildering experience because she’s been thrust into the upper class virtually overnight. Plus, it’s not like she became instantly rich and everything’s a party. Hardly! She has to sit in the same room with two other people who want to kill her (and one who already tried. Many of the delegates from other nations either openly despise her or are uncomfortable with her presence. Plus, there are multiple references to her appearance as a “savage,” which are clues to me that this is a a dichotomous world that values pale skin and height over other physical features. So, it’s not like Yeine can hide those aspects of herself from the general public, you know? Despite that people call her “Arameri,” she knows at heart that she can’t ever truly be Arameri.

I think Jemisin does a fantastic job of sticking is in Yeine’s head during all of this. The exposition we experience happens in conjunction with Yeine learning new information, so it comes across quite naturally. Plus, she’s able to pass along information about nations like the High North or Senmite. What I’m interested in most, though, is what Yeine has planned for the future. Look, if I was in her shoes, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Does she have to outright murder the other heirs or wait until they kill one another? T’vril has never seen a succession ceremony, so it’s not like he can tell her what happens in those. She makes a brief connection with the representative from the High North, Ras Onchi, but I don’t know that it’s enough to qualify her as an ally. Then, T’vril reveals a stunning truth: She has already met everyone who matters. So the possibility of seeking out new allies is pretty much shot to hell immediately. I love how T’vril describes this:

“Sky is both very large and very small, Lady Yeine.”

Physically and financially, it’s massive, but that power and influence is concentrated in the hands of a few. Doesn’t that sound familiar? If that’s the case (and I have no reason to disbelieve T’vril), then Yeine’s journey is a billion times more challenging than I thought it would be.

Well, not just challenging, I suppose. It’s complex. Sieh reappears after T’vril leaves, and we’re reminded that the gods want something from Yeine. Sieh repeats the same reasoning we heard before: The gods don’t want to take it from her. They want her to offer it up of her own free will. Okay, what? Is it something she owns? A part of her body? I don’t get this. Despite that I have every reason to distrust Sieh (he is the trickster god, after all), I didn’t think he was lying about this. But I considered his craving for physical affection to be an attempt at getting Yeine to let down her guard. She’s a little disturbed by the interaction, given that he’s presenting as a kid, but I totally lost it during this part:

“Do –” I did not want to call them my family. “Do others ask you to be older?”

He smiled. It was, most horribly, very much a child’s smile. “Younger, usually.”

I’m thankful that Yeine is so conscious of rejecting the Arameri side of her family because OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO AWFUL. But that doesn’t mean Yeine should trust the gods, either. So what the hell is she going to do? How is she supposed to beat this? I DON’T KNOW, Y’ALL. I SERIOUSLY DON’T KNOW.

Mark Links Stuff

– I have redesigned! Check out this post explaining the new changes, which includes the start of a permanent archive of all Mark Watches videos!
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- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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