In the eleventh chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Yeine continues to seek out more information about her mother, which includes a segment that would make Sokka proud, and discovers THE WORST THING THE WORST THING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Chapter Eleven: Mother
THE ANSWER WAS IN THE GODDAMN TITLE WHAT HAVE I DONE.
Y’all, not only did I totally not expect this, but I am floored by what this might mean for the story. This inherently has to address identity, does it? I LOVE INTRICATE CHARACTER STUDIES ABOUT IDENTITY. (Hello, Dollhouse.) Because what?????
So let’s get into this chapter, because aside from the reveal at the end, there is still a lot to discuss.
T’vril told me that sometimes Sky eats people.
Oh my god.
I know where the lost ones have gone.
I have a vague inkling of what this means, and it terrifies me. I am so fucking unprepared for this book.
In the meantime, I am loving the continued journey that Yeine is taking in Sky and what it means for her perception of her own mother. I’m intrigued by this idea that our memory of certain things is generally selective. Our minds choose what to we remember about certain people or certain events, and that’s not always something we consciously do. As Yeine pursues the reason for her mother’s action and the truth behind her murder, she discovers that something about her memory of Kinneth must be flawed. It has to be because everything that Viraine tells her about Kinneth is entirely counter to what she remembers:
Perhaps I was still young enough to see her through the worshipful eyes of childhood, but the ways I’d heard my mother described since coming to Sky simply did not fit my memories. I remembered a gentle, warm woman, full of wry humor. She could be ruthless, oh yes – as befitted the wife of any ruler, especially under the circumstances in Darr at the time. But to hear her compared favorably against Scimina and praised by Dekarta… that was not the same woman who had raised me. That was another woman, with my mother’s name and background but an entirely different soul.
Everything about Kinneth is a contradiction. How can a woman be pure Arameri, but risk death by bringing her husband, afflicted with the Walking Death, to Sky to ask for a cure? How can a woman be so kind and lovely to her daughter, and yet possess a history of ruthless power? I mentioned before that Yeine clung so fiercely to the dichotomous nature of her mother’s morality, but I understand now, more than before, that this is a deeply confusing experience for her. She no longer can categorize Kinneth as anything because each new thing she learns about her defies categorization.
Of course, there’s a very important aside here that I can’t forget:
This is how the gods’ tongue works; it allows the conceptualization of the impossible. And this is why the best scriveners can never be trusted.
So, how much of what he says about Kinneth is true? Granted, he’s not the first person to insinuate or confirm that Kinneth was not who Yeine thought she was, and I don’t see a reason for him to lie about why Kinneth came back to Sky. However, Yeine’s father did survive, so does that mean something happened to guarantee that? Viraine says that Kinneth was “purpose incarnate,” and I’m inclined to believe that. So is there something else I’m missing?
After this disconcerting conversation, Yeine gets lost in Sky and ends up at the overwhelming library. TO THE LIBRARY! Oh my god, I love library researching scenes so much. Maybe it’s because they always remind me of Hermione? I don’t know. What’s interesting here is that Yeine’s research is accidental. She didn’t seek the library out on purpose. And yet, here’s a possible resource for her! However, she meets the strangest librarian, whose bizarre behavior mostly comes from the fact that, as a Sky servant, she never acts like one. Isn’t it fascinating how Yeine has already come to expect a certain kind of treatment as a highblood in Sky? That doesn’t mean she’s an awful person or anything, but even she knows that her place in this city is elevated. So why is the librarian so rude and terse with her? Actually, it’s not just that she doesn’t act like a servant:
“This library must hold all the knowledge of the world.”
My dour companion snorted. “A few millennia worth, from a few pockets of humanity, nothing more. And that picked and sorted, trimmed and twisted to suit the tastes of those in power.”
OKAY. Isn’t that the sort of thing that might get one publicly shamed or even executed for saying? I’ve got the sense that Sky is run very rigidly, that dissent is not allowed, so what??? Who is this woman?
(help me help me HELP ME OH MY GOD.)
When Yeine is finally directed to all the available information about the Gods’ War, the anti-prescriptivist in me got really excited. I love what Jemisin does here with all these documents because she puts forth the idea that what academia does isn’t always the truth. Just because something is repeated in a thousand books a thousand different ways doesn’t make it fact. (And given that the history of people of color in my country is constantly obfuscated and erased, I am especially a fan of this subplot.) Yeine knows she’s been lied to, but she can’t find any evidence of it.
Until she finds the gaps in the bookcases.
It’s a trick of the light, a brilliant one at that, and it holds an unreal secret: giant depictions of the original three gods. Well, and the librarian seems to show up instantly upon Yeine’s discovery. And Yeine focuses so much on the features of these statues and etching that I had to wonder why these details were so important. We do learn that Nahadoth was essentially genderless (or genderfluid), but that Itempas forced him into the shape he appeared as now. But it’s the state of Enefa that’s the most disturbing. There’s a distinct resemblance between Enefa and Yeine, one that’s openly acknowledged in the text and which CONFUSES ME UNTIL THE END OF TIME. Then the librarian reveals her true identity and I am SO FUCKING DONE.
I should have noticed. She’d had a different shape in my dream, but I knew her now: Kurue the Wise, leader of the Enefadeh.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE KIDDING ME and that isn’t even the worst twist:
“We’ve invested far too much in creating you.”
CREATING? CREATING???? Yeine was CREATED by the Enefadeh? what the fuck WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!
HOW. HOW IS THIS A THING THAT IS HAPPENING. HOW???
Mark Links Stuff
- I have redesigned MarkDoesStuff.com! Check out this post explaining the new changes, which includes the start of a permanent archive of all Mark Watches videos!
- The Mark Does Stuff Summer Tour is happening now! Check out the posted dates, suggest new ones, help bring me to YOUR TOWN.
- 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!!!
- Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!