In the tenth chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Yeine seeks out more information about her mother, and discovers many things that disrupt her world view. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Chapter Ten: Family
Oh shit, so much of my last review is REALLY SPOT ON for where this book is headed. This is weird! I am like, marginally prepared! This never, ever happens! Which only means that something completely unexpected is going to happen in the next couple chapters, and I’ll regret saying that. Oh, well. Such is my life! It’s what I do!
There is a lot that happens in this chapter, which opens with Yeine witnessing a horrifying execution ordered by Dekarta, which is the first in a number of disturbing incidents that she has in the span of a single day. Before we see the execution, though, there’s a brief aside that foreshadows what we’ll later see from Dekarta and what we’ll learn about Kinneth. Yeine’s mother remarks that Dekarta is a great man, but from the tone, she implies more than she says. How is Dekarta a great man?
That all depends on the context, and we’re given a context here. Within the framework of Arameri society, it is Dekarta’s ruthless devotion to his own power and rules that makes him great. Yeine witnesses the execution of a heretic, one who denied the Bright Itempas, and Dekarta uses Zhakkarn to… well, do the worst thing. See, the man was given a choice: jump to his death, or be impaled and burned alive from the inside. When he refuses to jump, Yeine is shocked by the display of brutal violence that she sees, so much so that she cries out, which alerts the entire place to her presence. What this brings about is a confrontation that sheds light on exactly what sort of leader Dekarta is.
I wasn’t necessarily surprised that his confrontation with Yeine was so cruel and rude. That seems perfectly in line with the sort of person I understand him to be. He’s just so forward about everything: about his reverence for Yeine’s mother, which is completely unspoken but still there; about his bigotry towards the “darkling” races; about his willingness to die for his cause, though it’s highly unlikely that he’s actually going to do so. The content of what he tells Yeine is unsettling, sure. But I was more bothered by how willing he was to be so upfront about making heresy punishable by death. In that sense, I think it’s entirely possible that he believes everything he says, that his code of morality is entirely genuine and perhaps not just a way to keep power. Of course, that’s a premature theory, one that needs more time (and more facts) to develop.
But it’s the way that Dekarta speaks of Yeine’s mother that hit me the hardest. Dekarta was so hopeful that he’d see part of his one-time-heir in Yeine, but he’s disappointed when he does not. This is yet another detail that chips away at the image Yeine has of her mother. How could her mother have ever been so appealing to an Arameri? That’s not the person she once knew! But this chapter continues that deconstruction of Kinneth, and it only seems to look worse. When T’vril helps Yeine to her mother’s old quarters (WHICH HAVE BEEN CREEPILY PRESERVED OH MY GOD), every detail in the place betrays the memories she has of her mother. How could her mother have lived in a place of such opulence? She even speaks these concerns aloud:
“What were you in this place, Mother?” I whispered aloud. My voice did not break the stillness. Here within the closed, frozen moment of the room, I was merely an observer. “Were you the mother I remember, or were you an Arameri?”
It’s possibly she was simply both, but I noticed that Yeine made this into a dichotomy, as if she could only be one of the two options. I don’t blame her, given everything she’s discovering about her. At the very least, the love letters she discovers give her some comfort, even if it is a sad one.
And then the Nightlord shows up. Y’all, this is weird. See, I couldn’t quite figure out if the Nightlord was truly attractive to Yeine or he was doing some weird mental magic to make her attracted to him. Obviously, if the second were true, I’d probably feel really gross about this. But until I know otherwise, I admit I’m intrigued by this idea, especially as an exploration of the mortal, human aspects to the gods. Does the Nightlord have a human sexual appetite as well?
Regardless, there is SO MUCH REVEALED IN THIS CHAPTER:
- Yeine’s mother possessed a fruitstone, which might be a symbol of Enefa, which confuses Yeine. Why would her mother own such a thing?
- We learn rather definitively what happened between the three great gods. While Itempas’s motivations were very complex, we know that he resented Enefa and poisoned her. Oh, by the way, that poison? The demons that the gods had created already possessed blood that could poison the gods by teaching the flesh how to die. SWEET BABIES, WTF.
- Oh, right, Itempas MURDERED ALL OF HIS DEMON CHILDREN. Except one! He kept one of them just to poison Enefa.
- I finally understand the term “darkling,” which refers to people who finally “accepted the Bright only to save [themselves] when the Arameri threatened [them] with annihilation.” I don’t doubt that there are racist connotations to it, at least in terms of how much it sounds like a slur, but I loved this explanation of it.
- Yeine is told that it is possible that some of her own people had lied to her and others about the real reason for the Gods’ War, despite knowing it all along. Seriously, Nahadoth later says that Yeine’s life is surrounding by lies. He’s not exaggerating.
- In a very casual way, Nahadoth says that Kinneth was a “true Arameri,” and while Yeine doesn’t believe that, I think she might consider that this is confirming her worst fears about her mother’s past.
- Oh, and Dekarta may not have killed Kinneth at all. BUT THEN WHO DID? WHO ELSE WOULD HAVE HAD THE MOTIVATION? I DON’T GET IT.
- The Nightlord finally spells out what the gods want from Yeine in exchange for their help: her life. Okay, what??? Like… literally? UGH THIS IS GOING TO RUIN ME ISN’T IT.
So it seems that Kinneth really wasn’t who Yeine thought she was. So why did she abdicate? Why go to Darr at all? UGH I NEED TO KNOW MORE RIGHT NOW.
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