Mark Reads ‘The Broken Kingdoms’: Chapter 16

In the sixteenth chapter of The Broken Kingdoms, Oree makes a desperate attempt at destroying the New Lights, only to find a surprising ally of sorts in doing so. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Broken Kingdoms.

Chapter Sixteen: “From the Depths to the Heights” (watercolor)

Oh my god THIS BOOK IS UNREAL, Y’ALL. This is how you write a better book than your first in a trilogy and IT’S NOT LIKE THE FIRST BOOK WAS TERRIBLE. IT WAS SO GOOD. But this is just enthralling, exciting, and so brilliantly written on multiple counts and I can’t deal. I CAN’T.

But I have to, so let’s deal with the three main focuses of this chapter.

In Hiding

God, there is so much guilt and fear built into this chapter, and it’s amazing to me how palatable it feels to me. We can’t ignore that Oree feels so conflicted about what’s happened, who she is devoted to, and how much she values herself throughout the process. I wouldn’t say that she’s reckless in this chapter, because that implies that she isn’t thinking through her actions. No, her attempt to destroy the New Lights’ here is calculated, if a bit desperate. But before that happens, she awakes in a crate. LITERALLY. We have no idea what happened to Lil and Dateh, but Shiny took the opportunity to use the distraction to get him and Oree to Ancestor’s Village, where most of Shadow’s homeless population lives. Oh, and where Shiny once lived, too. (There are so many casual character/plot reveals in this chapter, I swear.)

It’s so fascinating to me to see a character like Shiny plunged amidst what he would consider the worst of humanity, and, unfortunately, what most of our own world considers to be the least liked, respected, or cared for people in society. Shiny has been amongst the disabled, the poor, and the non-white for a long time, and I love that for most of this book, Oree doesn’t actively care whether or not Shiny ever comes to terms with what he did. She doesn’t! She has to had to live the difficult path she’s been on this whole time, and Shiny spent eons being a god. Yeah, I love it that she isn’t made to like Shiny, which is not to suggest that her feelings towards him are that simplistic. She’s thankful that he saved her multiple times. She’s determined to protect the other godlings and Nahadoth from the New Lights. She regularly puts other people or beings before her own needs or desires.

Shiny himself isn’t that simple anymore, either, and his development in this chapter GIVES ME STRENGTH AND LIFE. Holy shit, when he dropped this line:

As I lay there trying to regain the full use of my tongue, Shiny said, “Good intentions are pointless without the will to implement them.”

I realized JUST HOW FAR HE’D COME IN THIS NOVEL. I expected him to reject Oree’s claim that he wasn’t a kind being, but he instead admits his stubbornness straight up. He discusses his massively irrational behavior towards Enefa, and HE REGRETS WHAT HE DID. HE REGRETS WHAT HE DID TO HIS SIBLINGS. And I agree with Oree here; Shiny’s regret is not meaningless. It is the first step towards something greater.

How about this, though?

“They are both children of Nahadoth. In the end, it will be a matter of strength.”

I shook my head. “Dateh’s not…” Then I understood. “Oh. That explains a lot.”

DOESN’T IT??? The existence of the Empty, a son rejecting his father… GOOD GODS, THIS IS SO FUCKED UP, I SWEAR.

The Promenade

I can’t believe I didn’t figure some of this out, but you know what? I’ve got like 6 fictional canons swimming around in my brain at any one time. It happens. But Oree comes up with a loose, desperate plan to derail the New Lights that involves her going into THE WHITE HALL IN THE PROMENADE. I mean, I couldn’t put the obvious together – that the Order would be very interested in the information that Oree had – and thus, this whole sequence felt disgustingly suspenseful. These two had to make it to the White Hall without being recognized by any of the Lights’ people, who surely had to be looking everywhere for Shiny and Oree. And once they made it inside, how the hell was Oree certain that Rimarn would even speak to her? Oh, Oree, you’re a genius:

“My name is Oree Shoth,” I said. I tugged back the hood so he could see I was Maroneh. “I killed three Order-Keepers. You’ve been looking for me. For us.” I gestured tiredly at Shiny. “We need to speak to Previt Rimarn Dih.”

Well, that’s one way to get their attention SWEET CHRIST. And yet, even while Oree was confessing the truth to Rimarn, I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to work. She might get some medical attention and maybe protection for her and Shiny, but that was only if Rimarn viewed her as valuable enough for it. He wanted revenge; how was she going to exploit that to keep herself alive? I mean, at one point, she tells Rimarn that she jumped out of the Tree. The odds were stacked against her! Like, all I could think about was how, out of the context of this book, what’s happened to Oree is almost comically absurd, and trying to relate that to an outside would be a damn near impossibility.

Unfortunately, then LORD HADO SHOWS UP TO VERIFY IT ALL AND I GOT SO SAD BECAUSE OREE WAS SO CLOSE TO ESCAPING THESE CREEPS AND I HATE THE NEW LIGHTS AND I AM YELLING AT A BOOK. WHATEVER. That’s nothing new! But gods, I can’t deal with the New Lights. Admittedly, I felt so dejected by Hado’s appearance, even if I didn’t understand how this was possible. Was Rimarn working with the New Lights, or was there some other arrangement at hand? But then Rimarn appears to know Hado, and then I’m confused by Shiny offering to help Oree. WHERE DID HE COME FROM?


N.K. Jemisin just keeps finding new ways to shock me, and the final scene in this chapter is a doozy. Oree awakes in a room so brimming with magic that she can see everything. The walls. The furniture. The windows. WHAT THE FUCK, WHERE IS THERE A PLACE SO LITERALLY INFUSED WITH MAGIC? (Oh god, the chapter title was the answer the whole time. THE WHOLE TIME.)

Yeah, well, that was child’s play to what came next:

“This isn’t the House of the Risen Sun. What’s going on? And you – what the hells are you?”

“I believe the common term is spy, Lady Oree.”


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oh my GOD AN ARAMERI SPY. Which… was initially thrilling, and then terrifying. It’s not like the Arameri are known for their charity and kindness, so the fact that Oree is now in the hands of the Arameri IN SKY (!!!!! SKY OH MY GOD SHE’S IN SKY!!!!!) doesn’t make me feel comforted. Neither does this:

“The Lights were right about one thing: the gods have ample cause to be angry with mortalkind, and the deaths of their kin have done little to endear us to them. The Arameri understand this and so have taken steps to control the situation.”

Yeah, I don’t like the sound of that, and you better believe I’m not going to automatically trust the Arameri.

Well, not all of them:

“Lord Arameri,” I said. T’vril Arameri, head of the family that ruled the world. “Is that who you’re taking me to see?”


Please note that the original text and the videos contain uses of the word “lame” and variations on “mad.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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