In the twenty-eighth chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, OH MY GOD, I WAS STILL SO UNPREPARED FOR THIS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Twilight and Dawn
HOLY SHIT, THIS CHAPTER!!!
There is a lot to work with here, as this dense chapter lays bare a lot of things I clearly missed along the way. I just… I can’t believe how quickly my own perception of this novel has changed! I ended the last chapter feeling forlorn and sad, and now I’m EXTREMELY EAGER TO KEEP READING? I just have so much hope.
Hope. That’s what this gives me. There is hope not only for the future, but of a future existing at all. That’s important because for a good portion of this chapter, we get a glimpse of a chaotic and violent war that will erupt, but might very well be stopped by Yeine. It’s Yeine, y’all, who was the most important character of all, and I love that idea. Initially, of course, we don’t know this. The narration from her point of view is detached because of her death, though a part of me didn’t understand how she lingered about to watch the chaos below her. (EVEN THAT IS ANSWERED. IT’S SO SATISFYING.) Through this, we’re able to get answers to questions like the ones I proposed in my last review.
Namely: WHY??? Why had Viraine done this?
“It was necessary,” he says, half to himself. Then he pulls himself together and says, “She was a weapon, my lord. Lady Kinneth’s last strike at you, with the collusion of the Enefadeh. There’s no time to explain now, but suffice it to say that if she had touched the Stone, made her wish, all the world would have suffered for it.”
So yeah, this alone was shocking, but the motivations behind all of this are so much more surprising and fascinating to me, especially because with the reveal that it was Kurue who told Viraine – !!!!!! – Jemisin reminds us of the complicated affairs of the Enefadeh. There’s a line earlier in this book where Yeine realizes that Kurue looks upon her with the hatred of all humanity, and THAT WAS A HINT. THAT WAS A CLUE THAT KURUE DESPISED SO MUCH OF THIS ARRANGEMENT THAT SHE WAS WILLING TO SELL OUT HER FELLOW GODS. Well, maybe “sell out” is the wrong word, because in Kurue’s eyes, this is about dignity. This is about refusing to lower one’s self to the level of the same people who enslaved them in the first place. Though I think this line is important to acknowledge:
She looks at my corpse and sees Shahar Arameri. I carry the burdens of so many dead women.
Which is a vital point to be made and can only be made through Yeine, so I’m thankful that Yeine is still narrating this. Her life is the culmination of what Shahar, Ygreth, and Kinneth have been victim of and what they have done, and all these dead women have brought us to this point, where Kurue admits that SHE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR KINNETH’S DEATH. And that’s the lengths that Kurue will go: murdering mortals for her sake. Yeah, I can’t really deny that Kurue is getting something out of this! She certainly has a point in stating that the ensuing Gods’ War that would result from Yeine’s decision would probably end with the Arameri enslaving the Enefadeh again, but at the same time, she is getting her freedom from Itempas in the process. It’s a strong motivating factor for her, so of course she’s going to view the alternative as the worse option.
All of this directly relates to Kurue’s treatment of Nahadoth throughout this entire novel and in chapter twenty-eight. This is why she resented Yeine so much to guarantee that Yeine would die at Viraine’s hands. She is furious with Nahadoth’s pride and stubbornness, understandably so, since they’d all have their freedom if Naha had given Itempas what he wanted long ago.
Well, wait, I’m wrong about that. Because Kurue did not help Viraine kill Yeine. At least not technically:
Then, just before the sun’s bottommost curve lifts free of the horizon, I recognize what I have seen in him. Two souls. Itempas, like both his siblings, also has a second self.
I’m pretty sure this is my favorite plot twist? My gods, IT’S BEEN FORESHADOWED FOR SO LONG. VIRAINE CRYING IN HIS WORKSHOP OH MY GOD. All those weird expressions, that bizarre recognition Yeine had every time she looked at him… y’all, it explains so, so, SO MUCH. I’d also like to remind y’all that in the beginning of my video for chapter twenty-seven, I actually asked, “Is Itempas going to show up?” I HAD NO IDEA, OKAY???
Like I said, Kurue’s behavior is in direct response to Nahadoth, so the reveal that Viraine is Itempas just brings out that age-old rivalry between the two original gods. Well, it also brings out Itempas’s true skin color, which isn’t white, WHICH JUST MADE ME LAUGH BECAUSE I LOVED IT SO MUCH. Can I imagine that this is a reference to how often religious figures in Christianity are often painted to be pale white? Because I’m going to. Anyway, one of the most striking things about this section does involve the physical descriptions of Itempas, especially how Yeine feels in his presence. There’s an undeniable grandeur to him, so I understood why Itempas was so furious when Nahadoth spurned him in order to pick up Yeine’s body. WHICH MADE MY HEART EXPLODE BECAUSE OH GOD IT’S SO UNFAIR.
But even that is relevant to the story. The Nightlord is heartbroken by Yeine’s death, but he’s also still mourning the loss of his sister. It’s ingrained into every inch of his godly body, you know? It’s terribly ironic, then, that Itempas helped Viraine because Viraine was heartbroken over Kinneth. Heartbreak fuels both of these characters and helps explain why they’ve been locked in this eternal struggle for so long. You could also say that Enefa’s existence was heartbreaking to Itempas!
And yet, despite that he is an immortal being, Nahadoth refuses to reject humanity, specifically Yeine’s humanity. I was so pleased with his impassioned insistence that Yeine was more than a vessel, especially because the implications it will later have in the chapter. Nahadoth’s destructive rage at Itempas’s casual rejection of humans, who were Enefa’s creations, is a powerful moment for his character. I mentioned in my review for chapter twenty-six that Yeine’s humanization of Nahadoth was a huge development for his characterization, and now we see the end result of that: Nahadoth fundamentally refuses to believe that Enefa “fouled” the universe by adding humanity to it.
I thought it was painfully unfortunate, then, that this moment was happening after Yeine had already died. There was so much potential for their relationship, for the rest of humankind, because of what we’d seen. And it crushed me when Yeine realized that Enefa never really could come back, at least not back in her original form, because it meant that Yeine was dead, too. And so I get the explanation for all the narrative asides, all the glimpses of the future, when the narrative changes to a conversation between Enefa and Yeine. We find out how Yeine is able to view everything. And yet, despite how much I’d figured out, I still wasn’t ready for this:
So what now?
Your body must change. It will no longer be able to bear two souls within itself; that is an ability only mortals possess. I made your kind that way, gifted in ways that we are not, but I never dreamt it would make you so strong. Strong enough to defeat me, in spite of all my efforts. Strong enough to take my place.
DID – DID YOU JUST SAY. DID YOU JUST SAY “TAKE MY PLACE”
I know your wish.
Do you really?
Yes. They are blinded by pride, but underneath there is still love. The Three are meant to be together. I will see it done.
Thank you. And farewell.
OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. IS THIS SERIOUSLY HAPPENING.
YES. Yes, it is. The Stone was much more important that I ever thought it could be. As the scene breaks into utter chaos – Nahadoth and Itempas locked in battle, Scimina trying to murder Relad, Sieh and Zhakkarn ready to annihilate Kurue – Dekarta is the only other person to realize how important that Stone is. AND THEN THIS HAPPENS:
He reaches for the Stone.
It is gone.
But it was there, lying in my blood, a moment before. Dekarta frowns, looks around. His eyes are attracted by movement. The hole in my chest, which he can see through the torn cloth of my bodice: the raw lips of the wound are drawing together, pressing themselves closed. As the line of the wounds shrinks, Dekarta catches a glimmer of thin gray light. Within me.
Then I am drawn forward, down –
Yes. Enough of this disembodied soul business. Time to be alive again.
I WAS SO HAPPY. I WAS SO ECSTATIC AT THIS REVEAL. I DIDN’T THINK YEINE COULD EVER COME BACK. I THOUGHT SHE WOULD BE GONE FOREVER. BUT SHE IS TAKING ENEFA’S PLACE. OH MY GOD.
Then I closed my eyes and touched my chest. Nothing beat beneath my fingers; my heart had been destroyed. Yet something was there, giving life to my flesh. I could feel it. The Stone. A thing of life, born of death, filled with incalculable potential. A seed.
“Grow,” I whispered.
The glimpse of the Stone in the last chapter. IT LOOKED LIKE A SEED. IT WAS THERE ALL ALONG. But what I love most about this is how this gives us that sense of hope. There is an end to this that isn’t horrible and nasty. There is a way to fix all of this.
And it lies within Yeine.
Please note that the original text and the videos below contain the words “crazed” and “demented” if that triggers you.
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