In the eighteenth chapter of The Kingdom of Gods, OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Kingdom of Gods.
HOW IN THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO REACT TO THE FIRST BIG REVEAL ABOUT SIEH’S TRUE PATH AND LOVE AND DEKA WHEN YOU GO AND DROP THAT ON ME? WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK I NEVER SAW IT COMING. WHAT THE FUCK.
All right, I’ll force myself to actually address what happens before Kahl arrives because it is deeply important! Like, we need to talk about the first thing that Sieh thinks as soon as he’s taken to the chamber where Itempas will attempt to heal him:
Deka would love these when he found them.
THAT’S THE LITERAL FIRST THOUGHT HE HAD. Oh my god, it was so obvious that he was fiercely in love with Deka in hindsight. He couldn’t keep him out of his mind! Of course, it’s not entirely a surprise, and we’ve known for a while that both of these Arameri siblings had pulled Sieh to them as much as his need pulled them to him. It’s just the ferocity of it that’s new, but that’s part of the reason what happens here happens the way it does. Itempas, upon being restored to power, shocks everyone when he reveals that there is nothing wrong with Sieh. SERIOUSLY:
“He is as he should be.”
And yeah, it’s incredibly confusing, so much so that Nahadoth immediately latches on to the only thing that makes sense to him: his anger for Itempas. A familiar scene of sibling hatred starts to form, but both Itempas and Yeine stray from the script, which I think is a big deal, personally. Could they have done this a hundred years earlier? Actually, CLEARLY THEY COULDN’T, given what happened a century before. And now, Nahadoth is suggesting that they join together as one, something that hasn’t happened SINCE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, just so that they can save Sieh??? It’s this that causes Sieh to finally come to a full realization of what’s stopping this from actually happening. It’s not that Sieh was necessarily always meant to be a human, that he would have become mortal of his own accord. No, that still happened because of Deka and Shahar. But due to that, Sieh changed:
It was ironic, really, and beautiful in its way. The problem was not them but me. The Three walked the world again and had come together in the hope of saving me. And I could not be saved, because I was in love with two mortals.
It’s love that’s made him as he should be. He cannot love Deka or Shahar and truly return the sentiment as a god. So that’s the choice before him: stay mortal and love Deka, or regain his godhood and lose the first (and possibly only) chance at eliminating his loneliness. And because Yeine is Sieh’s mother now, she knows exactly where to send her son: straight to Deka. WHICHâ€¦ HOLY SHIT. I mean, I’m so torn over this scene because the queer dude in me is SHRIEKING TO THE GODS ABOUT HOW AMAZING IT IS THAT A GODLING CHOSE TO REMAIN A MORTAL HUMAN IN ORDER TO BE WITH HIS TRUE LOVE. That is so undeniably incredible and empowering. Because shit, y’all, that’s so powerful to read because when the fuck do you have gods becoming humans for queer love? When? WHEN IS THIS HAPPENING? It’s a scattered thing, spread over centuries of storytelling and mythmaking, but it doesn’t happen in fiction as much as I’d like to see it, you know? And so much of Deka’s affirmation for Sieh is about being an equal, which is Jemisin’s way of acknowledging the power disparity at play and how Sieh’s desire to remain mortal would put him on level ground with Deka. Actually, it’s not just about Deka wanting Sieh to be an equal. This is about Deka refusing to be insignificant:
“Even before mortals were created, you’d lived so long, seen so much, that no mortal could be anything but an eyeblink in the eternity of your life. That’s if you were willing to try, and you weren’t. But I will not be nothing to you, Sieh. And if I must change the universe to have you, then so be it.”
Of course, Sieh can’t ignore the possessive tone to this in light of the fact that Deka is Arameri. But Sieh recognizes that as much as Deka craves Sieh in an arrogant way, Deka wants to be desired, too, and he’s more than happy to belong to Sieh. It’s why this shifts to something REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE AND CRUEL, which is Sieh’s test for Deka. He commands Deka to make love to him right at the exact moment that Shahar is drawn to the same room. Sieh and Deka’s consummation of their love involves the heartbreak and pain of Shahar, and IT’S SO ENDLESSLY FUCKED UP. Oh god, I’m so conflicted.
I am not as on-the-fence about the aftermath, though, as Sieh seeks out Itempas and shares a quiet, tender moment with the god who is about to lose his godhood for an unknown length of time. Despite that we do learn what it was that Sieh forgot, I found it fascinating that his revelation about his feelings for Deka and Shahar is framed as if Sieh was fighting his true nature. In that sense, this is a chapter of discovery for him. He discovers what he wants his life to be, at least for the time being. He discovers the appreciation that Itempas has for him. And he finally discovers that he is tired of hating Itempas.
It is especially cruel, then, that in this moment where Sieh has finally forgiven Itempas that KAHL SHOWS UP AND PLUNGES HIS ARM INTO ITEMPAS’S CHEST AND RIPS HIS HEART OUT. Y’all, WHAT THE FUCK THAT IS NOT OKAY, WHAT THE FUCK!!! AND THIS ISN’T EVEN ENOUGH FOR N.K. JEMISIN BECAUSE:
“You’re going to take the mask from Usein?” I struggled to sit up, holding my arm. “But I thoughtâ€¦”
No. Oh, no. I had been so wrong.
A mask that conferred the power of gods. But Kahl had never meant for a mortal to wear it.
OH GODS, I WAS SO WRONG, TOO. KAHL WANTS TO BECOME THE FOURTH GOD. Which would undeniably rip the entire universe apart, forcing the Three to remake it all with the Fourth in mind, AND EVERYTHING ELSE WOULD PERISH AND BE DESTROYED. Oh my fucking god, Kahl wants to RESTART THE UNIVERSE. BUT WHY. WHY????
oh my god I NEVER SAW IT COMING.
Because now Kahl was close enough that I could see his eyes clearly, and when his pupils flickered into narrow, deadly slits â€“
â€“ eyes like Enefa’s no no EYES LIKE MINE â€“
I tried to scream.
“It’s far too late for you to care about me, Father,” he said.
SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, ENEFA AND SIEH HAD A SON AND IT WAS KAHL. I AM SO FUCKING DONE WITH THIS BOOK. But nope, NOPE.
But when I finally awoke, I was thirty years older.
GOD-FUCKING-DAMN THIS. I AM SO DISTRAUGHT.
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