The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
427 pages; c2010.
The Inheritance Trilogy, Book 1
About this book: Yeine Darr rules the small, backward, and barbaric country of Darr--that is, until she is summoned by her material grandfather, the patriarch of all Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, to the city of Sky. There, she is named an heir, to the surprise and consternation of her cousins and fellow heir-contenders (her mother, the patriarch's daughter and former heir, had been disowned after running away to marry Yeine's father). The timing of the summons is suspiciously close to that of her mother's murder, and Yeine tries to seek out clues while playing deadly politics with her cousins, in a culture radically different than her own and with no power base. And soon it becomes apparent that not only are humans politicking around, but the Gods are too...
My thoughts: Written in almost a confessional, oral storytelling style, this novel was both interesting and engaging. The narration jumps around as the protagonist remembers important background points or declines to tell you what's going on right then, but rather than totally break up the narrative, it just reinforces the humanity of the protagonist. However, the book is scarce on description and details of complex cultures that are hinted to exist but never shown; this may be a boon to readers who want to focus on the story at hand, but I found it to be slightly frustrating. I thought most of the characters were complex and well drawn, presenting both racial and class issues that are often neglected in fantasy novels. I this novel would appeal to both young adults and adults; the print was quite large and the the main character was 19 or 20, but many of the situations were geared towards a more adult audience. Overall, I think this is a very good debut novel, though not without flaws, and look forward to reading the others in the trilogy.