In the fifteenth chapter of The Kingdom of Gods, HOLY SHIT, Y’ALL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Kingdom of Gods.
What a goddamn spectacle.
This really does feel like one of the longest books I’ve ever read for Mark Reads, but not necessarily while I’m reading. Chapter fifteen is a great example of how Jemisin settles into her prose and just absolutely nails it. She takes the time to explain nearly everything, but it never feels like some of the weightier passages in, say, The Lord of the Rings, for example. She provides context. Why do we need to know what the stairs are made of? Why do we need to know their shape, or that a gate exists at the top of each? Why spend so much time describing the crowd and their energy? It’s because everything matters, and you can see that reflected in both the diction itself and the story. So much of The Kingdom of Gods is about providing us with context, with an explanation for how this imagined world ended up the way it did, and then we get the payoff: a frantic, terrifying, and absolutely mind-blowing chase sequence that spans… what? Maybe a tenth of a mile at most? I mean, when you think about it, Sieh and Glee couldn’t have been that far away from the Salon if Sieh was able to see Shahar with the naked eye. And yet, the scope of this dash to save Shahar and Deka feels so goddamn huge, you know?
I suppose there’s a lot here that feels massive and new. This is the first time we’ve ever gotten a good feel for how large the population of Sky-in-Shadow is, and the crowd lends a sense of chaos to the scene, too. Of course, the Salon is just… well, as ridiculous as an Arameri Salon can be. Then we’ve got Sieh’s scheme to use the local child thieves as his own eyes in the crowd in the most literal sense imaginable. It’s here that Jemisin reminds us of what Sieh once was in one sense, since it’s obvious the kid recognized Sieh as the trickster god. I say “in one sense” only because to that kid, he still is the trickster, even if he’s not actually using any magic. And that’s kind of a neat moment because I imagine that kid will always remember that interaction with Sieh. (Well, it’ll be even funnier when Ahad realizes that Sieh made him the one to break change for a street thief.)
This chapter also reveals that someone requested a high amount of Itempas’s godsblood, which… WHAT. WHAT. How would you even go about fulfilling that? Still, we know from the past two books that the theft of blood isn’t exactly an unheard of practice, so I suppose it’s possible that someone could combine the blood of the three to… do what? What exactly could you do with that? Is that what Kahl needs to complete his mask?
I don’t know, y’all. But this made me nervous.
Once Deka’s procession arrived, though, I was beyond nervous. I WAS NOT OKAY WITH HOW QUICKLY THIS MADE ME FEEL SKITTISH AND FRIGHTENED. I mean, I was totally floored by how Deka had taken his differences and made them into his own power. That was great, especially since we’re left unsure what it is that Deka is planning. His whole act here was so deliberate and intentional, and I’d be interested to know how Remath felt about it. Did she feel like Deka upstaged her or insulted her? Maybe not. He definitely did not upstage Shahar and her ABSOLUTELY UNREAL DRESS. Seriously, this passage is one of my favorites:
The dress she wore seemed barely attached to her flesh. The base garment was a translucent tube, thin enough that all of Shadow could see her pale skin through its fabric – but at her breasts and hips, enormous silvery flower petals, loose and curling and long as a man’s arm, had been adhered to the material. They drifted behind her like clouds as she came down the steps. There was a collective gasp from the crowd as everyone realized: the petals were taken from the World Tree’s flowers. Given the size, however, they could only have been blossoms from very high on the Tree, where the Tree pierced the world’s envelope. No mortal flower collector could climb to such airless heights, and the Arameri no longer had god-slaves. How had they gotten them? Regardless, the effect was perfect: Shahar had become a mortal woman swathed in the divine.
It’s all part of the spectacle, of course, that the Arameri put on to try and assert their power. It’s subtle and ridiculous all at once, and the crowd responds appropriately. Again, there’s a nervous energy in these pages because we’ve never seen anything like this before. The Arameri in the past two books were confined to a palace; we never got scenes of them interacting with the general public! Given this, and considering that the godlings suspected that this is when someone might attack the Arameri, I felt pretty damn awful reading all of this. That whole transition to the busker is just so unfair. We know that the attack is about to happen. But what are the mechanics of it? What’s going to transpire?
Y’all, THIS IS THE ACTUAL DEFINITION OF “TOO MUCH.” THERE WILL BE AN IMAGE OF ME SHRIEKING AT THIS CHAPTER IN THE NEXT VERSION OF THE DICTIONARY. Because N.K. Jemisin sets up all the pieces, and then knocks them over with SOUL ZOMBIES WEARING MASKS THAT TURN RANDOM PEOPLE INTO ASSASSINS. How many were there ultimately? Just three? WHY DO THEY GIVE THE WEARER SO MUCH POWER? Do they merely use the body as a conduit after extinguishing the soul??? What essence did these masks mean to hold? Vengeance? WHY DID THAT THIRD MASK TELL SIEH HE WAS A MURDERER AND REMIND HIM OF HIS “EVILS” FROM HIS PAST? OH MY GOD HE IS MORTAL AND THAT MASK-GUY JUST PLUNGED HIS HAND INSIDE SIEH’S BODY.
HOW IS THIS CHAPTER REAL
But let’s be honest: It’s Deka’s display of power that is the most important thing here. Note that he does this in public. People ostensibly saw him cut that mask-wearer down, right? So… yeah. He can’t hide his powers any longer, and he’s been home FOR LIKE TEN MINUTES. Welcome home, Deka. Here’s an assassination attempt for you. Gods, can Nemmer not be dead? DID EVERYONE SURVIVE?
WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED.
The original text/videos contain use of the words “mad,” “insane,” “crazy,” and “stupid.”
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