In the twentieth chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Scimina goes to drastic lengths to get revenge. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Chapter Twenty: The Arena
IT GOT SO MUCH WORSE. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLY GOING TO WORK? Scimina and Relad hate Yeine. The Enefadeh mostly hate her, too. Nahadoth’s outer godly skin was BOILED OFF BY THE SUNLIGHT and he’ll need to heal for weeks. HOW? HOW IS THIS GOING TO END???
Oh, we have so much to talk about.
We have enough trouble with one god now; why in the Maelstrom would we want to live again under three?
The irony of this hits me because it’s not the gods who are the most heinous and the most inhuman in this chapter. It’s humans. It’s the Arameri culture. It’s the wretched system that Yeine is now a part of, which she never asked to be in, which she was forced to deal with because of the Enefadeh. And I can’t ever forget that! There’s always going to be this undercurrent of consent to the story in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and it’s one of the reasons Yeine has so much fury within her. She. Did. Not. Choose. This.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised how quickly the other shoe dropped. Of course, news travels fast in Sky, and it was only a matter of time before Scimina found out what happened to her plan to crush Darr out of existence. Yeine had done something that no one expected, sure, but I DID NOT EXPECT THIS RESPONSE. I didn’t! And in hindsight, it’s not like this sort of brutality isn’t a part of Arameri culture. Oh, no, I’ve already seen enough examples of Arameri cruelty to last a lifetime. And yet I still wasn’t prepared.
I wasn’t prepared to come upon Sieh being tortured by Scimina in the hope that Yeine would tell the truth of what had happened in Menchey. However, how fascinating is this: Scimina was able to find out that her plans to crush Darr had been upset, but the Mencheyev were too terrified to tell Scimina what had actually happened. She wasn’t bluffing about her desire to get the truth. She genuinely didn’t know! So there was a part of me that was quietly proud of Yeine because she’d found a way to upset and trick Scimina.
Of course, it’s a very small part of how I feel towards what happens here. Most of my reaction is horror and disgust, and I must say that it is a wonderful sign of how well this world is constructed that I can understand why this is such a terrifying act. I understood why it was so unsettling to see Sieh aged more like a mortal body, or why Nahadoth’s entrance into the arena was so foreboding. It is a testament to worldbuilding, y’all! And it’s always something I love picking up on because it’s what makes science fiction and fantasy so rewarding as a reader. I love slipping into these imagined worlds and so completely understanding them that moments like this scene just make sense.
Admittedly, though, this is still an incredibly difficult chapter to get through because as much as I understood this world, that element of the unknown was always lurking around the corner. Why was Sieh able to be tortured in the way he was? Was the Nightlord going to resist Scimina? What about Viraine? Why did T’vril have a look of warning in his eyes? Did Scimina harm Ras Onchi, or was she still alive?
Not every one of these questions was answered, but it was the mystery of Scimina’s intentions with Nahadoth that scared me the most. The Nightlord has a weakness? And whatever it is, Viraine actually openly questions its use? No, that is not a good thing at all. NO! If Viraine hesitates to do something, I’m pretty sure that’s the worst thing ever.
I had no idea. I HAD NO IDEA.
Initially, I thought that the mere threat of harm to Nahadoth would keep Yeine telling as much of the truth to Scimina, but that’s a foolish idea. Scimina knows that Yeine wouldn’t risk taking the Nightlord with her unless she really needed him. And the suspicion is too much for Scimina to ignore and then:
And then Nahadoth uttered a soft sound, not quite a groan, and the hair and cloak began to boil.
“Watch closely,” murmured Scimina in my ear. She had moved behind me, leaning against my shoulder like a dear companion. I could hear the relish in her voice. “See what your gods are made of.”
So she shows Yeine what Nahadoth is made of, quite literally, as the sigil that Viraine draws brings a beam of pure light that literally melts his godly body off. The daytime version of the Nightlord crawls out of the old body. In the midst of this, Yeine has a weird vision that I think is Itempas’s fury at the Nightlord’s creation? I’m not too sure of it. Regardless, it didn’t work. Yeine keeps her secrets to herself, and there’s this really stunning moment with Sieh because of it:
Watch, those green eyes, so like mine yet so much older, said. See what we endure. And then set us free.
I will, I said back, with all my soul and Enefa’s, too. I will.
I really think we’ve seen the moment where Yeine has decided what she’ll do in the end. She’ll give up her own life in order to free the gods. Holy shit, is this really happening? Yeine escapes the confrontation by giving Scimina her best appearance at seeming hurt and agree to do her bidding. It’s a price she’s going to pay to hopefully keep the Darre people alive. (Though Scimina makes that vague threat of slavery, which calls back to the second chapter. UGH I HATE THESE PEOPLE.) But Yeine’s victorious and shocking attack on Scimina at the end gives me life, because WHO EXPECTED THAT? I’m sure Scimina will find some way to bring that back around, but for the moment, I appreciated that Yeine was able to find a way to hurt Scimina, even if just for a second.
Please note that variations on the words “mad” and “madness,” as well as the word “demented,” appear in the original text and the two videos.
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