In the thirteenth chapter of The Kingdom of Gods, I can’t understand how a book can have so many plot twists and heartbreaking revelations in just over three hundred pages. AND THERE ARE SO MANY MORE. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read The Kingdom of Gods.
I’m not even going to bother trying to figure out the narrative clues in the whole italicized bit prior to chapter thirteen. It’s Sieh, clearly, but why? Why am I reading this? Is it some dream that Sieh doesn’t remember when he wakes up? Why does he cycle through all the people and gods in his life? WHY AM I SO UNPREPARED FOREVER?
Two years pass. TWO YEARS PASS IN THIS CHAPTER, and you know what? It works. The threat of the masks still looms, but it’s not nearly as urgent as I thought it was. That actually scares me more, because it means Kahl is WAITING. FOR SOMETHING. I DON’T KNOW WHAT. But this also establishes that Sieh had to develop a routine to tolerate mortality. And he did it. He found a way to live under Ahad, to have a job, to get healthy, and to further ignore Itempas. OH, SIEH. He’s still the same in some ways, isn’t he?
The world is still changing around him, and I was thrilled to learn that Usein Darr openly challenged the Consortium. SHE IS SO GREAT. I don’t know if it’ll actually help change the Arameri power structure, but it’s a start. Of course, there’s a lot at stake here and this is complex as fuck. It could be part of a greater plan, you know? Maybe she’s trying to exacerbate the Arameri on purpose.
There’s not much point in speculation while I know so little. So, yeah. WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT DEKA. DEKA. HOLY SHIT. Look, it’s not that I forgot about him… actually, I kind of did. So much has happened!!! And there was no clue or hint that we were finally going to get a reunion between him and Sieh, and it was everything I ever wanted and so much more I’m not sure I wanted because it hurts way more than a book should. Right off the bat, N.K. Jemisin is hurting my heart by revealing that Deka is now a teacher. HE IS A TEACHER IT’S SO PERFECT.
And within a page of his appearance in the book again, Sieh realizes he looks just like Ahad. OH. OH. OH, SO HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE. He’s related to Ahad??? WHICH WOULD MAKE HIM PART DEMON? Except wouldn’t Sieh have died ten years ago??? Demon blood kills gods. We know that for a fact! So…what??? WHAT???
Oh, y’all, this was just the start of a torrent of plot twists and revelations and I can’t understand how I’m expected to ever survive this book.
“What the hells kind of scrivener are you?”
Deka closed the door behind me. “My specialty is godling lore,” he said. “I wrote my concluding thesis on you.”
WHAT THE BLINDING HELLS. LIKE…WHAT THE HELL. And it was through Deka’s study of Sieh that he came to believe that Sieh did not try to kill him ten years ago and that his behavior two years prior in Sky is pretty much in-line with his nature. That whole bit where he matter-of-factly tells Sieh that he knows that Sieh didn’t mean to kill Shevir… FUCK. He says that right to Sieh’s face. BOLD AS FUCK.
“I still love her. But I’ve been used as a weapon against her once already. I will not let that happen again.” He pushed away from the door abruptly and came toward me, and so flustered was I by his manner that I took a step back before I caught myself.
“I will be her weapon instead,” he said.
It took me a shamefully long time, all things considered, to realize that he had spoken to me in the First Tongue.
EVERYTHING IN THIS CHAPTER IS IMPOSSIBLE, and yet, there it is. How??? How can Deka speak THE FIRST TONGUE? And what’s his plan to be a weapon for Shahar??? Reminder: we still need to think of the masks. And the secret godling group. And Sieh’s impending death. AND A MILLION OTHER THINGS. But then I forgot it all in the instant that Deka revealed he had written the most complicated set of magical…SOMETHING…on his body, making it a completely new conduit for magic:
Now Deka had written demands for power into his own skin, and his flesh gave the words meaning. He had written it in a script of his own devising, more flexible and beautiful than the rough speech of his fellow scriveners, and the universe would not deny him.
I can’t. I can’t even comprehend what this means aside from the fact that Deka possesses an amount of power that is unheard of for a mortal. And I think it’s perfect that after such a bewildering and shocking reveal, Jemisin finally tells us what happened in the moments after Sieh disappeared and left Shahar and Deka in a pile of ruin. Y’all, eight-year-old Shahar defended her brother in a stunning, hours-long logical argument, and it’s the reason he survived. Shit, it all calls back to Sieh’s conversation with Nsana in the previous chapter, doesn’t it? It’s that relationship that Sieh wanted more than anything, y’all. !!!!!!!!!
So Deka made the best of his time at Litaria, not just because he was naturally good at scrivening. It was, in a sense, freedom from the world of the Arameri in Sky. Throughout it all, his intense love of his sister kept him going and, in some terribly sad twist, kept him away from her. They knew their love was a weakness, and Deka knew that it would be used against Shahar. MY GOD THIS IS TOO MUCH. They have had to pretend FOR A DECADE that they hate one another, and they have not had a direct conversation FOR A DECADE.
It’s not surprising, then, that Deka has hardened since Sieh last saw him. It’s sad, surely, but what was he supposed to do? As Sieh points out, it’s not like Deka is a fool. Deka was always highly observant of the world around him, so it makes sense that a cynicism (one that kept him alive) would spread through him. We see it manifest in the immensely uncomfortable conversation that Sieh and Deka have. Deka is… hmmm. He’s detached here. That might not be the right word, as he’s clearly invested in this conversation and in his friendship with Sieh. But the way he interrogates Sieh comes off more brutal than I expected, and I think it’s due to this unspoken anger and rage towards Remath and the Arameri that’s hidden underneath nearly everything he says. As he outlines his plan to take two months to go home, his certainty is striking. He’s a man determined, and he doesn’t think he’ll fail in being Shahar’s weapon. Of course, he has untold powers. Like… what exactly can Deka do with all those marks on his body? How powerful is he? I WANT TO KNOW THESE THINGS.
Anyway, let’s just acknowledge that Deka emotionally punches Sieh in the face a bunch of times in this chapter:
“But the biggest change is that you’re not happy anymore. You were always lonely; I saw that even as a child. But the loneliness wasn’t destroying you back then. It is now.”
HI, I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN TEN YEARS, AND THIS IS WHAT I’M SAYING TO YOU AFTER JUST A COUPLE HOURS OF BEING REUNITED. But isn’t this 100% truth? And it hurts to hear, but we know Deka is right.
“I still want to help you, but I’m not sure if I can. You aren’t sure you like me anymore, for one thing.”
WOW, TRUTH BOMB AFTER TRUTH BOMB.
And really, Deka doesn’t take long to get right to the real problem: Ten years ago Sieh came to Deka and Shahar more than once because he wanted something they could actually offer: genuine friendship. He would have kept his promise and killed those two kids if they turned out to be nothing more than Arameri brats. He would have! But that’s less because he despises the Arameri, and more because he wanted them to stay his friends. His heartbreak over Shahar’s betrayal is rooted in that, especially since Deka correctly identifies that Sieh is CLEARLY IN LOVE WITH SHAHAR, TOO.
I should have seen it coming because…y’all, Deka hadn’t excluded himself as still being Sieh’s friend. And really, what Deka does in this chapter is demonstrative of something much more than friendship.
The kiss is unreal, y’all. It’s both tender and horribly violent. The magic within Deka passes through Sieh and when Sieh lets it go, IT MAKES THE LANTERNS EXPLODE AND THE ROOM SHAKE. (Hello, orgasm metaphor.) It’s not just a confirmation that Deka is part demon (an eighth, to be exact); it’s a sign that there is some unbelievable power within Deka that has potential for…what? To transcend scrivening? To solve Sieh’s loss of godhood? To annihilate all of the Arameri? It really is potential because I don’t see or know of a limit at all, and Deka seems prepared to use it as he needs to. Well, then there’s the very queer ramifications of this kiss that excite me because WHAT. Is Deka in love with Sieh, too??? I mean:
So I took his hand, the one I’d held ten years before, when his demon blood had mingled with mine and failed to kill me. His palm was unmarked, but I remembered where the cut had been. I traced a line across it with a fingertip, and his hand twitched in response.
“I’m glad I came to see you,” I said.
He did not smile. But he did fold his hand around mine for a moment.
“I’m not Shahar, Sieh,” he said. “Don’t punish me for what she did.”
RUDE RUDE RUDE. THIS BOOK IS SO RUDE. Oh my god what the hell. It’s all too much. I don’t even know what to focus on anymore, y’all. I’m just done.
The original text contains uses of the words “mad,” “crazy,” and “stupid.”
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