Monday, January 6, 2014

Read-Along: The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, Part 1

Here begins another read-along!  I've been meaning to read the rest of Jemisin's trilogy ever since I was so impressed with the Dreamblood duology.  This read-along, which will continue through Kingdom of Gods seemed like a good opportunity to do just that.  It is hosted by Books Without Any Pictures, Dab of Darkness, and Violin in a Void.  This first post covers the beginning of The Broken Kingdoms through Chapter 4.

There are spoilers through Chapter 4 of The Broken Kingdoms, and of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms past this point!

1.  What do you think so far of Oree Shoth?  Do you like her as much as Yeine?
It’s been a while since I read about Yeine; about three years.  I might not be able to make a valid comparison right now between the two of them.  I like Oree, though.  She’s giving Shiny way more chances than he deserves, but that’s probably just because she’s very kind.  I also think it's very interesting to read a story from the perspective of someone who is unable to see, even though that disability is mitigated by her ability to see magic.  

2. Sky is now referred to by its inhabitants as Shadow, and we get to see the city from the perspective of the commoners rather than the ruling Arameri.  What do you think of the book's setting?

It seems to be a very practical name-change! I’m not sure I would like living in near-perpetual shadow, and all the godlings would make things even more difficult.  As a setting for the story, though, I have been enjoying Shadow, its commoners, and its godlings.  I get the impression that Oree and Shiny are going to have to leave the city, though, after the events of this section.

3.  The gods play a much different role in this book than in "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms," and spend their time interacting with the people of Sky/Shadow.  What do you think of the gods and godlings that we've met thus far?  Who are your favorites?

It was neat to see Yeine put in an appearance in goddess form, and I liked Sieh quite a lot from the previous book.  I suppose the most interesting to me would be the mercy goddess.  It would be very difficult to live that attribute among mortals, I think.

4.  Any predictions on who or what could be killing the godlings?
It seems it’s not Shiny, because he was rather shocked.  Another guess would have been Nahadoth, but he and Yeine are apparently furious.  It’s said that none of the other godlings could have killed Role without making much more of a mess.  Perhaps there is a new major god about?
5.  For everyone who read the last book, Shiny's identity should be relatively easy to guess, even though it hasn't been explicitly stated yet.  Do you think his punishment is suiting, or is it too much?  Is there any chance he'll come out of this as a normal person?  How do you think Oree will react when she finds out?

Yeah, I think his identity was pretty obvious to guess, from the readers’ perspective.  I think he is totally cheating his punishment, though.  He was supposed to have nothing he didn’t earn himself, in terms of goods and reputation, but everyone basically told Oree that he was extremely important, probably a punished god, and had done something unforgivable.  I thought the point was to force him to start completely anew—and he definitely isn’t doing that, from what I can tell.  If Oree is okay with him now, knowing all the broad strokes of his life but no details, I can’t imagine she would feel any different after the blanks have been filled in.

On another note, Oree’s paintings have some pretty amazing magic!  Do you think we’re going to end up with some characters traveling to other populated worlds? That would be pretty amazing. However, I bet Oree is a little too traumatized from cutting people in half to paint anything for a while.

All that magic kind of indicates that the previt is right, and there is something extra special and dangerous about Oree.  I’m wondering if she’s a goddess and doesn’t know it, like Yeine.  I suppose if that’s the case, maybe she switches between god/mortal forms like Nahadoth did, and just doesn’t remember that she’s the one killing godlings. 


  1. 1. I also appreciate the fact that she's blind. You don't often come across disabled protagonists in sff, or in fiction in general.

    2. I wouldn't like all that shadow either, although I'd love to see the World Tree. I wonder what the Sky Palace is like now.

    3. I suppose there might be plenty of opportunities to be merciful or compassionate given that humans are fragile and an be hurt so easily? I think it was mentioned that Role worked as a bonebender, which I assume is a sort of doctor.

    4. That's a good point - confirming that Shiny is a divine being changes things between him and Oree, and gives him a status he hasn't earned. She knew he was special, but having gods tell you that he's a god is a different matter.

    1. 3. I was thinking the mercy job would be quite rough, because you have to watch all the things that humans do to one another, and all you can offer the victims is company while they die or the comfort of a swift death. I am curious about "bonebending"... maybe it's magic-related healing?

      4. Yeah, I kind of wished that they forced him to be fully mortal, with no hints to his mortal companions that he's a god. I think that would make his life much harder-- for instance, Oree might not have even taken him in, since it was the god-shine that caught her attention initially.

  2. I love love love the magic paintings. They were cool even before Oree cut people in half with them, although it was a neat twist. I feel like Yeine tried to be firm and when she hurt people, it was to prevent harm to those she cared about. Oree hurt people by accident and it was so badass. I mean, I just picture this little blind girl being attacked by someone more powerful than she is, then all of the sudden the sky is filled with the bodies of her enemies. Well, half of them anyway.

    1. They were so great! Who would have guessed that she would have that kind of power?

  3. Hmm, I'm also wondering what's the deal with Oree? Is she a split personality so she's not aware of the other part who might be killing gods and having such obvious powers as to open gates between worlds just by drawing something?
    But if she might be a godling in disguise, how could Yeine not see it?
    There are so many questions and new ones keep popping up in my mind and I have no answers yet...

    1. Yeah, I'd expect Yeine to be able to tell, so I don't know. Maybe Oree's situation is more complicated, kind of like Shiny's or something (except without it being a punishment).

  4. The mercy godling Eo. Yeah, that was an interesting scene. Eo needs an opportunity to grant mercy, because that is her power. Yet when Madding prevented great harm from befalling Oree, Eo seemed quite happy. Maybe she is not all that thrilled with her affinity. Which makes me wonder how many other godlings sometimes aren't all excited about their affinity.

    If I was Oree, I would be pretty traumatized by the results of my painting as well. But I would also have way too many questions for my parents. I don't think her father is still living, but her mother is around to ask questions of.

    Sorry I am late to the party. Been fighting a headcold this week and mostly I just want to crawl under the covers and pretend I am dead.

    1. I get the impression that a godlings affinity might not really be influenced by what they would like it to be. I wonder how they get them though... do you think they are set at birth in some way?

      I hope you feel better soon!