Mark Reads ‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’: Chapter 23

In the twenty-third chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Yeine finally does what she wants. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

Chapter Twenty-Three: Selfishness

I just love that Jemisin values Yeine’s selfishness. The context of what’s about to happen to her helps inform why she chooses to fully offer herself to Nahadoth, but I think it’s so much more than that. Because you know what? Even if this chapter is about Yeine doing as she pleases in order to make herself feel better, she helps others, too.

First, though, everything hurts:

“Oh,” she said after an awkward introduction and my inquiry. I knew then, the instant I saw the pitying look in her eyes. “You haven’t heard. Ras died in her sleep just these two nights past.” She sighed. “I still can’t believe it. But, well; she was old.”

Goddamn it. This is how chapter twenty-three starts. Except that this time, it’s actually not all downhill. Yeine visits T’vril, and her (possible) final scene with him is so touching and emotional and jesus, I really like T’vril a lot. Sky is so full of people who are disingenuous, vicious, backstabbing, and self-centered. And T’vril could have been the same way; he has his own reasons for being ambitious. But here’s a man who oversees the the servants in a way that grants them some humanity, which is a hard thing to find here in Sky. He shows that same respect for Yeine, not just by offering himself up first, or by treating her so well, or keeping her in the loop of what is happening in Sky, but by being her friend. How many friends does she have in the place??? She can count them on one hand, y’all. More than ever before, I appreciate his presence in the story. Of course, there’s the looming fear that this is the last time we’re ever going to see him. Despite how many answers we have, the end of this book was basically told to us already: Yeine is going to die while setting the Enefadeh free. So we’re counting down to this horrible moment, and that gives these last chapters a terrible sense of dread, you know?

So it made sense to me that Yeine then went to Viraine. I don’t doubt that he was the one gave Yeine’s father the Walking Death at all, so getting revenge on him in some way fits perfectly in line with her story so far. Hell, not even just getting revenge, I should say. Confronting him would make sense. I was excited, then, to see what happened between them, and was therefore totally shocked by what happened instead:

He was crying in his workshop.

I had no idea why he was crying. Perhaps all his evils had revived the tatters of his conscience for one moment. Perhaps he had stubbed his toe. But in the moment I stood there, watching him weep as T’vril had managed not to, I could not help wondering: what if even one of those tears was for my mother? So few people had mourned her besides me.

HEY, AN EXPLOSION OF FEELINGS FOR A CHARACTER I’VE NEVER MET PLUS THE SADNESS OF GRIEF AND I EXPECTED NONE OF THIS. Again, I think this demonstrates more about Yeine’s character than anything else. The fact that she is able to turn away from Viraine, despite that she feels no sympathy for Viraine, is a big, big deal. It can’t be easy to do, but she does it.

Let me also just devote one sentence to saying that I have no idea what all the narrative asides are. what the fuck

I think I was most surprised by Yeine’s visit to Scimina, though it made a lot of sense once I figured out that Nahadoth was what Yeine wanted. I just… Scimina makes me feel uncomfortable in my soul. However, I did want to comment on this in the review, even though I mentioned it in the video:

I totally didn’t realize that Scimina had “beat” Yeine, but that’s mostly because of my own reading comprehension. Of course she did.

The end of this chapter is nice. I admit that I like Nahadoth and Yeine as a romantic pairing because so much of what they’ve become is about choice. Yeine chooses to invite Nahadoth this way. She chooses to wait until his nighttime form to seduce him. It all calls back to what the Nightlord told her in the previous chapter: We ultimately can choose the ones who shape us.

Oh god, the end is so close.

The words “mad” and “whore” appear in the original text and the videos below.

Part 1

Part 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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