Monday, January 13, 2014

Read-Along: The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

It’s time for the second post of the read-along of N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms!  This time, questions were provided by Dab of Darkness, and they cover chapters 5-10.  As a warning, this discussion will contain spoilers of The Broken Kingdoms through chapter 10.
1) We learned some tidbits about Oree's father in this section. Who, or what, do you think he was and what do you think of the suspicions about mob madness that Lady Serymn brought up? 
They introduced the idea of ‘demons’, children of godlings and mortals, in this section.  It seems like this might have some bearing on Oree’s heritage.  I’m not sure if Oree’s father could be a demon directly, since I don’t think there were godlings around at the time of his birth.  My main guess is that he, and therefore Oree, are descended from a demon. 
However, if the demons have a longer than usual life-span, he may just be one.  I am wondering if there is a link for demons between mortality and magic-use.  Oree’s father warned her that she could kill herself by using all the magic inside of herself, so maybe demons age and die depending on their magic use. 
As for Lady Serymn, I think I’m with Oree’s reaction.  Serymn is obviously saying this in an attempt to sway her opinion towards killing Nahadoth, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  I don’t think I would say it was Nahadoth’s fault, exactly, but the loss of Itempas stability and the return of Nahadoth could well have affected people around the world.   
2) Shiny has some stern views about the relationship between Oree and Madding. What do you think of him testing her love for Madding? Do you think she said yes to Madding for the right reasons?
I think Shiny is an arrogant jerk, and I’m really hoping the story doesn’t end up putting him and Oree together.  I think that ‘test’ mostly just revealed that he was a good kisser, and that he doesn’t understand anything at all about love, relationships, or even power dynamics.  At this point, I wish Yeine would show up to make him truly start over—banished from Shadow with no powers whatsoever and no companions.
After that, I guess it’s clear that I think Oree said yes to Madding for right enough reasons.  I think that after everything in this book goes down, it’s possible that Oree won’t even have to hide in Shadow anymore.
3) The House of the Risen Sun has some followers with skills. What do you think of the holes, The Empty, and what has happened to Oree's friends, both mortal and immortal? Shiny? 
They are much more powerful than humans are expected to be.  The Empty is pretty terrifying… I’m glad Oree didn’t permanently harm herself in fighting it.  I’m guessing the immortals are still there, but we also know that these people are capable of killing immortals.  I really hope they aren’t dead!  As for Shiny, I imagine he got away.  Maybe he’ll help Oree, maybe he won’t.
4) Are the ambitious plans of the House of the Risen Sun justified? Noble? Or is there a particular follower you already want to seen tossed into The Empty for a spell? 
I don’t see a good solution to the current situation.  Nahadoth has murdered a lot of people, even destroyed an entire continent, so I can see where it might seem a good idea to kill him.  On the other hand, I am totally with Oree on the peace of the Arameri, which was based on the persecution and murder of anyone who didn’t follow all their many orders exactly. 
5) Lord Dateh, the Nypri, requested a bit of Oree's blood for study. What do think he will do with it and what part do you think the House of the Risen Sun hopes Oree to play in their plans?
If my guess about her descendance from a demon is correct, maybe he’ll study it to find out who and when.  Also, we’ve seen that gods blood gives mortals their particular power.  Maybe he expects Oree’s blood to have a similar kind of usefulness.  I am not sure if they have an exact role for her worked out yet, because I don’t think they’ve really explored her capabilities.


  1. 1. It's possible that a godling secretly had a relationship with a human a few decades ago and their child was Oree's father. Madding said Itempas had forbidden such relationships and didn't tolerate disobedience, but not that it was impossible.

    2. I hate it if Oree and Shiny got together too. But I don't think they will. I hope.

    4. I think the best way out is to find Role's murderer as they've been told to do. The prospect of war is horrible, but it's the Arameri's fault for acting the way they did over the centuries. Presumably the New Lights think the whole situation could be rectified by putting Itempas back in power, but that'd just be re-establishing the dictatorship.

  2. 1. I suppose that's true. I just assumed Itempas had all the godlings carefully locked away from the human realm!

    2. Yeah, I sure hope not.

    4. I think the New Lights killed Role, didn't they? I may have misunderstood, but I thought they as much as admitted it. And yeah, I definitely don't think Itempas should be back in power.

    1. 1. I assumed that too, but the way Madding spoke about it suggested it might have been possible for someone to sneak out and have a relationship in secret. It's just that Itempas might have killed them on the spot if he'd found out, or given them to the Arameri as a slave.

      4. Serymn said something about killing a god, and Oree assumed she was talking about Role, but Serymn said she was referring to Enefa. I don't recall them admitting to it, but I don't think they denied doing it either.

    2. 4. Ah, right, that's what it was. I read that as a kind of "nod, wink, change the subject to prevent saying anything directly incriminating," when they redirected the topic to Enefa's death, but they could well just be innocent.

  3. I believe in people's free choice so I'm not blaming the death of Oree's father on Nahadoth.

    I think Shiny is the unknown component in this novel - he's so completely different from normal that you can't even begin to predict what he'll do and how he'll act.
    I wonder if he kissed Oree because he's jealous of what she has with Madding so he was in some twisted way trying to destroy it and possibly get Oree...?

    1. Oh, I definitely also believe that the people who killed Oree's father are responsible for their actions. Even if Nahadoth's rise did influence people's minds (which seems likely), it doesn't absolve them of their crimes.

      Hm, could be. He does seem to like her, for all he claims she's irrelevant. I sure hope he doesn't manage to ruin Oree's relationship with Madding.

  4. I like your pondering about magic-use and demon lifespan. I wonder, if there is a link, how much of her life Oree will use up trying to get away from the cultists.

    Definitely a messed up situation. Nahadoth brings chaos, but in balance with the other 2 and the godlings, it is dampened down to acceptance and tolerance of more than 1 set of beliefs. If Oree helps the cultists, or is used by them, to destroy or banish Nahadoth, things will skew again, back towards the unwavering, intolerant rule of Itempas (or at least his militaristic followers).

    1. Yeah, Itempas really messed everything up, back when he killed Enefa. They need to each balance one another, but now there's so much awfulness between them. I am about to put up this week's answers, so I kind of know how things with the Lights and Oree end up (and won't mention it on this post). It seems like, from the gods side, the only good, stable solution would be for Itempas to be accepted back by Yeine and Nahadoth (hopefully after becoming a better person). For that to happen, they'll have to stop that cult.