In the twenty-ninth chapter of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Yeine is reborn. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Three
I don’t understand how there are two more books.
I’ll get back to that at the end of this (and even more so in Thursday’s prediction post for The Broken Kingdoms), so allow me start off this final review of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by stating that I have never read a book like this before. From the narrative quirks, the pacing, the viciously clever plot twists, and the empowering ideas placed at the core of this tale, I’ve adored every second of this. And it’s always a scary, intimidating thing to start something new on my sites! Granted, I think folks have figured out my taste over the years and thereby recommend books and shows that they think I’ll come to love or, at the very least, appreciate. Still, that’s not always going to be the case, so i do worry that one day, I’m going to be handed something that isn’t my cup of tea.
But this book? Yeah, it’s definitely not that. I mean, THE MAIN CHARACTER LITERALLY BECOMES A GOD and it’s nothing at all like that one plot in Angel where a certain character becomes a heavenly being and I’m just going to stop here before I get really, really angry. Yeine’s ascension doesn’t negate her growth as a character. Her past is not disrespected. No, everything matters. The story we were just told matters. There’s no other person here would could have become the third member of the Three like Yeine does, and I adore how perfect this feels.
Not only that, but this is some of N.K. Jemisin’s most evocative and haunting prose:
My body had become something else, less a body than an embodiment, but its shape for the moment was still human, as were my senses. And something was different here, too. When I inhaled, I could taste the crisp, acrid thinness of the air, underlaid by the metallic scent of the blood that covered my clothing. I touched my fingers to this and tasted it. Salt, more metal, hints of bitter and sour. Of course; I had been unhappy for days before I died.
I love the way the sense intermingle here and in the scenes that follow. Jemisin is able to convey something that is, by its nature, incoherent and inhuman. We don’t experience smells or tastes like Yeine, and it’s through this that we learn just how much of the universe was fundamentally altered by Enefa’s murder. In this sense, it’s like Yeine is filling the vacuum left behind from her murder. Initially, she observes, and she watches Scimina murder Relad. (!!!!!! OH MY GOD !!!!!!) She perceives her kin for the first time, and it’s like nothing we ever experienced through Yeine as a mortal. It’s so exhilarating to see these same characters through the eyes of – well, a different person? Does Yeine remain herself, or is this a different being? Even that question is answered brilliantly:
Suddenly I understood. It was my flesh, and my power, too. I was what mortal life had made me, what Enefa had made me, but all that was in the past. From henceforth I could be whomever I wanted.
“Yes,” I said, and smiled at him. “That is my name.”
Even in the end, as a mighty powerful god, Yeine gets the chance to name her own identity. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
It’s also fascinating to get the type of closure that this final chapter gives me, especially because it’s so reliant on an understanding of the Three and their role in this universe. We have the dual natures of Nahadoth and Itempas on grand display here, and yet, Yeine’s ascension to the new member of the Three adds balance to the world. It’s one of many signs here that prove that the Gods’ War was catastrophic to the world. Enefa contained “the cycle of life and death” within her, and the world suffered without this vital aspect to it. (Which is one of many things missing that’s mentioned in this chapter.) So I found it fitting that her first display of power is to literally manifest a tree around Sky. A tree, which is a part of the cycle of life and death, which is a sign of hope as well.
And she frees the Enefadeh. Just… holy god. She did it. She kept her promise to them, and she freed the gods from the chains that the Arameri held them in. If there’s anything here that could easily play into the next novel, it’s this idea. THE GODS ARE FREE. Well, there’s more to that here, and oh my god:
“You will serve,” Nahadoth said to Itempas, and his voice was cold and heavy with the weight of law. I felt reality reshape itself. We had never really needed a separate language, either; any tongue would do, as long as one of us spoke the words. “Not a single family, but all the world. You will wander among mortals as one of them, unknown, commanding only what wealth and respect you can earn with your deeds and words. You may call upon your power only in great need, and only to aid these mortals for whom you hold such contempt.”
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS. OH MY GOD, the sense of closure that this provides is so immense. Shit, is this what the next book is about? Wait, I should save that for one of my predictions. Anyway, the nature of Nahadoth’s punishment for Itempas is based in forcing Itempas to have a specific experience. He’s being forced to be amongst those he despises most, and I’m curious to see how he’ll deal with such an ordeal. Does he develop empathy or hide within his rage and fury? Regardless, I found this particularly section to be very much Yeine’s philosophy:
But I could not leave it at that. A proper punishment was meant to redeem the culprit, not just assuage the victims.
I CAN’T AGREE MORE WITH THIS. I could write SO MANY WORDS about the modern implications of this sentence, but I think I’ll stick to what it means within the context of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Yeine wants Itempas to get better. She wants to end his anger and loneliness, and that’s why she tells him upfront that redemption is possible. It’s a sweet action, and we see it later when Yeine breaks off Naha’s daytime form from his body, giving it a true mortal life, so that it may explore the world as a human being. And I think that this inherent value of life is just so beautiful, you know? It’s why Yeine doesn’t allow Nahadoth to kill Itempas and why she doesn’t bat an eye when Nahadoth enslaves Scimina. She’s choose to value one thing over another.
I realize that I should state that Yeine does kill Kurue with a single touch, which is a terrifying display of power that I’d like nothing to do with. THANKS VERY MUCH. Sometimes, the life of another isn’t necessary, but her reasoning here was also nonexistent. I assumed this was Kurue’s punishment for betraying them all, but it happened so plainly, which made it all the more shocking. Still, Yeine leaps into action rather quickly after her “death,” and it makes her transition to god feel that much more genuine. Plus, she’s still Yeine through it all, still the young woman with a desire to do right by the world and to refuse to take bullshit from those around her. And I just don’t want this to end! Seriously, how are there TWO MORE BOOKS? How the hell is this going to work? I’m eternally unprepared.
Please note that the words “mad” and “madness” both appear in the text and videos below.
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