Mark Reads ‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Yeine ventures into the palace and discovers bewildering information about who she is and who her mother was. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

Chapter Eight: Cousin

  • I mentioned in my first review for this book that it’s always intimidating to start a new book, especially one where the author invents an entirely new world. I love worldbuilding, but writing about that can prove to be difficult because I know it’s impossible for me to both retain and jot down every detail that I learn in each chapter. It’s daunting, and the fact that I’m doing it publicly makes it more challenging.
  • However, I finally feel like I’m getting a grasp on the world of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and it helps that my own discovery process as the reader so neatly matches up with Yeine’s journey, too. It’s why the first-person narrative works so well. As she explores the palace, I am there in her head, too.
  • Y’all, this book is so LAYERED. There is so much going on, and I really want to treat it with care and respect and address ALL OF THE THINGS I noticed here.
  • Like, I haven’t said anything about this because it didn’t hit me until the opening of this chapter, but there’s this fascinating subtext to a great deal of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms that involves the trope of being a stranger in a strange land. Yeine has to constantly analyze her own role as a newly-made Arameri and cope with her internal allegiance to being Darre. How much of one culture must she engage with? What battles does she choose to fight? What can she tolerate? What does she refuse to do? How does she maintain her identity or sense of self when the world around her is desperate to turn her into something else?
  • Also, is that wire eyeframe apparatus attached to real human eyes or something? I… I don’t think I want to know. That’s terrifying.
  • But it’s terrifying because it’s an example of how this place so clearly values the aesthetic stereotypes associated with Amn people. Blue eyes, y’all. Holy shit.
  • “I did not dislike Amn food, but they never seemed to know what to cook and what to leave alone…” Oh my god, N.K. Jemisin, consider this the exact moment that I fell deeply in love with your writing. I know exactly what you are talking about.
  • “Most Arameri don’t even bother with basic economics. “I rule – I ruled – a poor nation, I said, draping a cloth over the remains of my breakfast. “I’ve never had that luxury.” This is love. I am in love. I will propose to this book shortly.
  • Ugh, Viraine creeps me out so much! I love that Yeine refers to his behavior as “fake comfort,” because that’s the exact same vibe I get from him. I bet he concern trolls women on Reddit all the time.
  • You know, until Viraine recommended that Yeine not get “involved” with the Enefadeh, I’d not considered that Yeine was falling for Sieh. I’d just assumed her grandmother’s story was about the Nightlord. But Sieh’s allure will always be a trick in some sense. As Viraine explains it, he says that Sieh is the Nightlord’s firstborn son. It certainly explains his nature. At the same time, I’m not willing to completely believe Viraine. The Arameri are not trustworthy when it comes to their portrayal and subjugation of the gods, so wouldn’t they have a vested effort in making sure Yeine believes them to be horrific beings?
  • Bah, this is so complicated, and I am totally into it.
  • I do like T’vril, though, and I think his combination of honesty and respect makes him an appealing friend to Yeine, though I’m not sure they’re quite on that level yet, you know?
  • What the hell was he talking about to his people?? What’s the shaft? UGH. After the last chapter, I’m convinced that something monumental is going to happen in the next few chapters, and it scares me. (Bravo, Jemisin. It’s also brilliant because it’s a rad way of injecting the story with suspense and dread.)
  • I’m also curious what T’vril meant when he said Yeine was like him. There are multiple possible meanings for that, and it just made me want to learn more about his past.
  • We do get a chance to learn more about Lady Kinneth, which is yet another subtextual layer to the main story. Obviously, this book is fueled by the inheritance war that looms over everything, as well as the fact that Yeine still doesn’t know why Dekarta brought her to Sky. But she’s also here to find out what happened to her mother, and in the process, her mother becomes more complicated. Yeine remembered her as a beautifully kind and expressive woman, but T’vril’s memory of her makes her out to be far more detached and noble than she was with Yeine. Is this what inspired her to finally leave Sky and disobey Dekarta?
  • Okay, no, I really need to know what Yeine was going to say about her mother. NOT FAIR.
  • “You know these darkling races, Brother. They have no patience, no higher reason. Always angry over things that happened generations ago… ” So, I don’t care, I’m biased as fuck here, and I don’t care. I am going to love this version of racism in a fantasy novel more than others because it doesn’t do that awful thing where suddenly, white people are the victims of the metaphorical racism in the novel. White people? Stop fucking doing this. You are literally helping zero people of color when you create these inverted narratives, and all it feels like is you expressing your need to make every oppression about yourself. So, there’s a version of racism in this book that falls perfectly in line with the racism of the real world? You better believe I fucking love this book already.
  • On top of that, I am so fascinated by the dynamic between Scimina and Relad, and all I can think of is I, Claudius. (Just because it’s still fresh in my memory.) Scimina is the more active sibling, and Relad’s behavior heavily suggests that he doesn’t give a shit about anything. Why is this? Why are they this way?
  • “Do you know, she honestly believes she’s a contender for Uncle’s position?” What??? What???? Why is she not??? Oh god, I need to know why Dekarta brought her there RIGHT FUCKING NOW.
  • “You really should read more of our family history, Brother. The pattern…” WHAT THE SHIT DOES THIS MEAN??? Oh, this is going to destroy me, isn’t it?
  • Yeine’s conversation with Relad certainly doesn’t help at all, though I was pleased to finally meet him for the first time. To be honest, he doesn’t seem like a threat to anything except all of the liquor in Sky.
  • That look he gives Yeine when she says she just wants to get out of Sky alive made my skin crawl. No. Nope. No, thank you.
  • Of course, once Relad told Yeine not to love anything, I thought this was some veiled reference to Sieh or the Nightlord, but nope. NOPE.
  • “Ah. It was plain as day, once I thought about it. Darr itself.”
  • GODS DAMN IT. Well, this book is quickly getting super disturbing.
  • Why do Relad’s servants resemble Scimina??? No, don’t answer that, oh my god.
  • I have a feeling T’vril was not surprised that Yeine returned with his flask. Oh lord, this book is something else, y’all.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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