The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
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First edition cover
|Author||N. K. Jemisin|
|Cover artist||Cliff Nielsen for US version|
|Series||The Inheritance Trilogy|
|25 February 2010|
|Media type||Print (Paperback & Hardcover)|
|Followed by||The Broken Kingdoms|
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a 2010 fantasy novel by American writer N. K. Jemisin, the first book of The Inheritance Trilogy. Jemisin's debut novel, it was published by Orbit Books in 2010. It won the 2011 Locus Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for the World Fantasy, Hugo, and Nebula awards, among others. Its sequel, The Broken Kingdoms, was also released in 2010.
Yeine Darr, mourning the murder of her mother, is summoned to the magnificent floating city of Sky by her grandfather Dekarta, the ruler of the world and head of the Arameri family. As Yeine is also Arameri (though estranged due to the circumstances of her birth), he names her his heir but has already assigned that role to both his niece and his nephew, resulting in a thorny three-way power struggle. Yeine must quickly master the intricacies of the cruel Arameri society to have any hope of winning. She is also drawn into the intrigues of the gods, four of whom dwell in Sky as the Arameri's powerful, enslaved weapons. With only a few days until the ceremony of the Arameri succession, Yeine struggles to solve her mother's murder while surviving the machinations of her relatives and the gods.
Yeine Darr was born to Kinneth Arameri, who was heir to the Arameri throne but abdicated twenty years before the start of the story to marry Yeine's father, a Darre man. Kinneth was disowned by Dekarta, and Darr blacklisted by the Arameri (throwing the country into a crippling economic crisis) as a result.
The day she arrives, she meets T'vril, the palace steward, who is also an Arameri (although lower-ranked); the entire palace staff down to the floor cleaning servants is Arameri. This is because only Arameri are permitted to pass a night in Sky, for reasons that T'vril does not immediately explain. T'vril attempts to get Yeine to Viraine—the palace scrivener—to be "marked" as an Arameri before nightfall. However, Scimina, one of the other potential heirs, finds them first. Because Yeine lacks the mark, she unleashes Nahadoth, one of the Arameri's captive gods, on Yeine.
Yeine flees and is assisted by Sieh, another of the captive gods. Before they can escape, Nahadoth catches up and attacks Sieh, whereupon Yeine stabs Nahadoth to apparent death with her knife. Nahadoth kisses her before he falls, saying he has been waiting for her, much to Yeine's confusion. Being a god, Nahadoth returns to life shortly afterward. Yeine then meets the other gods—and quickly realizes that they, like the Arameri, have frightening plans for her.
Yeine, however, has her own agenda: still in mourning, she has come to Sky to determine who may have killed her mother before the start of the story. While attempting to forge an alliance with Relad, her cousin and the other potential heir, she also seeks out answers to the mystery of her mother's past. This leads Yeine to terrifying revelations about herself, her world's history, and the gods themselves.
As the day of the succession ceremony approaches and Yeine finds herself left with few options, she chooses to ally with the Enefadeh—even though Nahadoth warns her that they want her life in exchange for their assistance. Determined to learn the truth about her mother even if she dies in the process, she agrees to the gods' bargain. She also begins brief liaisons with first T'vril, then Nahadoth himself, the latter of whom seems equally drawn to her, though his motives are unclear.
The story culminates with the Arameri Ceremony of the Succession, at which Itempas himself—the Skyfather, ruler of the universe—appears, and Yeine makes a fateful choice.
- Yeine' (pronunciation "YAY-neh")' - Yeine Darr (the short form of her full name, which is "Yeine dau she Kinneth tai wer Somem kanna Darre") is half Arameri and half Darre. Her mother, formerly the Arameri heir, has been murdered when the story opens, and part of Yeine's goal in the city of Sky is to avenge her death. Yeine is the chieftain, or ennu, of the Darre—an hereditary/figurehead role, though with some representative power. She is considered a barbarian by the Arameri.
- Nahadoth' ("NA-ha-doth")' - The Nightlord, otherwise known as the god of night, chaos, and change, is the eldest of the Gods and the most dangerous. He appears in different guises.
- Itempas' ("ee-tem-pahs")'- The god of law, order, and light, Itempas is worshipped as the Skyfather the world over.
- Enefa' ("EH-neh-fah")' - The goddess of twilight, dawn, balance, life, and death, she was murdered several thousand years before the start of the tale.
- Sieh' ("see-ay")' - The Trickster, a godling who chooses to take the form of a nine-year-old boy. In reality he is the eldest of all the godlings, several billion years old. He befriends Yeine for inexplicable reasons.
- Kurue ("KOO-roo-ay") - Another godling, the goddess of wisdom, and the apparent leader of the enslaved gods.
- Zhakkarn ("jah-KARN") - Another godling, the goddess of war and battle.
- Dekarta ("deh-KAR-tah") - As the head of the Arameri family, Dekarta is the "uncrowned" ruler of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Yeine's grandfather. He summons Yeine to Sky at the beginning of the story, and names her one of his heirs.
- Scimina ("sih-MEE-nah") - One of Yeine's cousins, a fellow heir. The apparent primary antagonist of the story.
- Relad ("reh-LAHD") - Scimina's younger twin brother and the other potential heir. He is a bitter drunkard, but Yeine's best chance for an alliance in order to survive the contest of heirs.
- T’vril ("Tuh-VRIL") - A half-blood like Yeine, he is the palace steward. He quickly becomes one of Yeine's allies.
- Kinneth ("kih-NETH") - Kinneth was Dekarta's only child, Yeine's mother.
- Viraine ("vih-RAYN") - He is the palace scrivener, (a scholar who studies the gods' language; this language permits him to work limited magic). He too helps Yeine, though his motives are unclear.
Northernmost continent, about 1/3 the size of Senm. High north is a mountainous continent near the planet's equator; its climate is mostly subtropical, with some arid regions along the coasts. Some High Northern nations include:
- Darr: Small landlocked nation consisting largely of mountainous rainforests. Formerly matriarchial, now egalitarian, although with some vestiges of matriarchy remaining. Its capital is Arrebaia, a stone city built on a mountain plateau.
- Menchey: Small landlocked nation bordering Darr, more arid. Formerly patriarchial, now egalitarian, although with some vestiges of patriarchy remaining. Historical enemy of Darr.
- Tokland: Small coastal nation bordering Menchey and Darr.
Largest continent, to the south of High North. Climate ranges from subtropical in the north to arid and arctic in the south (the continent occupies the southern hemisphere and overlaps the southern pole of the planet). Some Senmite nations/cities include:
- Sky-in-Shadow: Eventual name of the city-state that is the Arameri home city, and the seat of the Nobles’ Consortium. Location of most events in the Inheritance Trilogy. The palace is known as Sky throughout the trilogy, but the city below is known by different names at different times. In The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the city is called simply Sky, like the palace. (Sometimes “Sky-the-city”, as opposed to “Sky-the-palace”.) In The Broken Kingdoms, the city's official name is still Sky, but denizens have begun to refer to it as Shadow, since most of the city is heavily shadowed by both the canopy of the World Tree and the Tree's stories-high roots. By the third book the city has in effect become three cities: Shadow, which refers to the city on the ground level; the Gray, a small community of upper-middle-class crafters and lesser nobles who dwell atop the Tree's roots; and Noonbright, the collection of mansions and other structures built directly onto the Tree's trunk by the city's wealthiest denizens. The whole city, palace and all, is now called “Sky-in-Shadow”. The areas in Shadow (seen mostly in book 2) are:
- Wesha: West Shadow
- Easha: East Shadow
- The Promenade (in Wesha; a traffic circle with a paved area, where pilgrims gather and artists, buskers, etc., gather to sell to them; several of the city's key buildings are located here, including the Wesha White Hall)
- The South Promenade (in Wesha; another circle with a poorer view of the World Tree, and which receives fewer visits from pilgrims)
- South Root (in Wesha; a poverty-stricken neighborhood which receives the least light in the city)
- The Shustocks Junkyard (in Easha; near the carters, carriagemakers, and blacksmiths of the city; where many large items are discarded such as carriageworks, rotted lumber, etc. First claimed as territory by the godling Dump, later Lil.)
- Ancestors’ Village (in Wesha; a gathering-place for the city's homeless population)
- Nimaro: Small country on a peninsula at the southern edge of the Senm continent. Given to the survivors of the Maroland after the destruction of their continent. A sleepy agrarian nation. Language is Senmite, although a minority attempts to preserve Maro, their original language. The people of Nimaro have dark brown skin and tightly-coiled hair. One of the few non-Amn ethnicities to occupy the Senm continent (the other is Teman).
- Tema/the Teman Protectorate: Large confederation of countries and city-states at the northern edge of the Senm continent. Ruled by the Triadice, a trio of noble families who rotate leadership and collaborate on foreign relations. Language is Teman. The people of Tema have tan to brown skin and “sharpfold” eyes (i.e., epicanthic folds). One of the few non-Amn-related ethnicities to occupy Senm. (The other is the Maroneh.)
To the east of Senm, a volcanic archipelago. Easternmost portions of the archipelago were close to the Maroland, and the people of those islands have a markedly different culture, darker skin, and curlier hair than those of the western islands.
- Ken: Largest of the islands, at the western end of the chain.
- Irt: Nation occupying half of a largish island.
- Uthr: Nation occupying the other half of the Irtin island.
Lost continent, once to the southeast of High North. Smallest continent. Climate was subtropical-to-temperate. A place of great beauty and biodiversity; the first humans evolved here, then spread westward. The first Arameri home city was here, before the continent was destroyed by Nahadoth. For several centuries afterward the area where the Maroland had been was prone to underwater earthquakes/tsunami that made sea travel treacherous. Colloquially called “Maro”.
The origin of all things. The Maelstrom is the force, or entity, that gave birth to the Three. It has never communicated with any of its children, and not even the gods fully understand its nature. Yeine perceives it during her lovemaking with Nahadoth in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms as “a sound: a titanic, awful roar.” The gods describe it as a churning storm, not just of energy or matter but of concepts as well. Most godlings, demons, or mortals who approach too closely are torn apart by its raging power.
The creator entities of the Inheritance Trilogy. Gods are equally at home as corporeal or incorporeal beings, are able to travel virtually anywhere in creation, and have complete power over all material and metaphysical objects and concepts. Only three gods exist at the beginning of the trilogy: Nahadoth, Itempas, and Yeine. Enefa was murdered by Itempas, and eventually replaced by Yeine. Individually the gods are extremely powerful, but not omnipotent or omniscient. Only the Three acting in concert have absolute power, rivaled only by the Maelstrom.
Godlings are immortal children of either the Three or other godlings, or some combination thereof. Each has an affinity and antithesis, and all possess the ability to travel anywhere and manipulate matter, including their own bodies. Beyond this, their powers vary widely per individual. Godlings exist in three rankings: niwwah, mnasat, and elontid. In The Kingdom of Gods, Sieh defines the demons as a fourth ranking, but notes that they are all (to his knowledge) dead.
List of Godlings
Godlings named thus far include:
- Sieh the Trickster: One of the Enefadeh; god of childhood/mischief/innocence/caprice. A child of Nahadoth and Enefa. Niwwah.
- Zhakkarn of the Blood: One of the Enefadeh; goddess of battle. A child of Nahadoth and Enefa. Niwwah.
- Kurue the Wise: One of the Enefadeh; goddess of wisdom. A child of Itempas and Enefa. Niwwah.
- Madding: A child of Itempas and Enefa; god of obligation, murdered by the New Lights. Niwwah.
- Role: A child of Nahadoth and Enefa; goddess of compassion, murdered by the New Lights. Niwwah.
- Lil the Hunger: A child of Nahadoth and Itempas; goddess of hunger. Elontid.
- Nemmer: A child of Nahadoth and Enefa; goddess of secrets. Niwwah.
- Paitya: One of Madding's lieutenants; affinity and parentage unknown. Murdered by the New Lights.
- Kitr: One of Madding's lieutenants; affinity and parentage unknown. Mnasat.
- Dump: “The Lord of Discards”; affinity and parentage unknown. Murdered by the New Lights.
- Nahadoth's Shadow/Hado/Ahad: A child of Nahadoth, with some assistance from Yeine; god of love.
- Eyem-Sutah: God of commerce; affinity and parentage unknown.
- Egan: A godling who now works in the Arms of Night; affinity and parentage unknown.
- Selforine: A former lover of Sieh. Affinity and parentage unknown.
- Elishad: A former lover of Sieh. Affinity and parentage unknown.
- Nsana: A former lover of Sieh. A child of Nahadoth and Enefa; god of dreams.
- Spider: A former lover of Sieh. A child of Nahadoth and Enefa. Affinity unknown, though she is a prophet, able to see the future.
- Kahl: A child of Sieh and Enefa; god of vengeance. Elontid.
Or more specifically, human races. There are many sentient species in the universe, though only one matters for the Inheritance Trilogy. Below are the relevant subgroups of humankind:
- Darre - Primary ethnic group of the barony of Darr, on the High North continent. A small population of ethnic Mencheyev also inhabit Darr, and many Darre are at least partially descended from other ethnic groups conquered or captured during the nation's warrior past. Matriarchial/egalitarian, ruled by a council of respected elders with a young warrior as their figurehead (the ennu). Darre tend toward short stature and deep-chestedness. They have brown skin and long black or brown hair; many Darre also have epicanthic-fold eyes. Like most High Northers, they may be a distant offshoot of the Tema people.
- Amn - Primary ethnic group of most nations on the Senm continent. Amn have white skin but varying hair and eye colors and morphology, legacy of their past as nomadic barbarians raiding and conquering other ethnic groups. Egalitarian, ruled by the Arameri family, the Nobles’ Consortium, and the Order of Itempas. Amn once spoke many languages, but since the Gods’ War they speak only Senmite.
- Maroneh - Primary ethnic group of Nimaro,. Maroneh have black to dark brown skin and brown or black hair; their hair has a natural tight coil. There were once over 100 separate ethnicities in the Maroland, but the survivors of the Maroland's sinking have become a single group calling themselves Maro’n’neh, or “those who mourn Maro”.
- Ken - Most populous of the island races, in the east. Known for their seafaring and shipbuilding. Generally pale-skinned and tall, with brown or red hair. Their language is Kenti. Offshoot races of the Ken include the Irtin and the Uthre.
- Min - An island race. Known for their seacraft and piracy.
- Teman - The people of the Teman Protectorate, a collection of several smaller nations which act as a union. They are ruled by the Triadice. Temans are of moderate height, generally have black or brown hair, and have brown skin of varying shades. Most Temans wear their hair in “cable locks” — long locks of hair which have been bound together until the hair fibers fuse. Wealthy Temans decorate their hair with jewels and wire made of precious metal; poorer Temans use found objects (e.g., seashells). Tema's capitol, Antema, is the oldest city in the world, and the only city to survive the Gods’ War intact.
- Tokken - A High North race. Fierce warriors, patriarchial.
- Uthre - The people of the island kingdom of Uthr. Conquered the neighboring land of Irt in a bloodless conquest that was later approved by the Nobles’ Consortium. The Uthre resemble the Ken.
- Narshes - A High North race. Their nation was conquered centuries ago; they exist as a minority in several High Northern countries.
- Irti - The people of the island kingdom of Irt. Irt was annexed by the neighboring land of Uthr in a bloodless conquest that was later approved by the Nobles’ Consortium. The Irti resemble the Ken.
The Demon Race
Demons, in the world of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, are the offspring of a mating between gods and humans. They are mortal, like humans, and for the most part resemble humans, though there are some cases of demons bearing visible “deformities” as a marker of their inhuman heritage. (An example is Oree Shoth's eyes, which are specialized to see magic but incapable of seeing anything else.) Since nearly all mortal humans have gods somewhere in their lineage, the designation of “demon” refers to degree of godly heritage — generally only those who are 1/8th god or greater. Some mortals with more distant godly heritage are also deemed demons if they are throwbacks in some way. They must possess the three traits which mark a demon:
- Abnormally powerful (for a mortal) magical abilities
- Unusually long lifespan (averaging 200 years)
- “Toxic blood”; the blood of demons is a deadly poison to gods if ingested or otherwise inserted into the god's corporeal body.
The discovery of this last trait, the demons’ deadly blood, caused their downfall as the gods then turned on them and hunted them to near extinction. Only a few demon lineages now survive, in secret and sometimes unknown even to themselves. The only known demons at the time of the Inheritance Trilogy include Oree Shoth, her father (deceased), her daughter Glee Shoth, Itempan priest and scrivener Dateh Lorillalia, Shahar Arameri the younger, Dekarta Arameri the younger, and Remath Arameri. Sieh and Itempas also remember Shinda Arameri, Itempas’ first demon child (deceased).
Little is known of the age before the Demon War — that period in which they lived and walked freely among the realms. There were possibly thousands of them at the height of this age.
In many cultures demons were hailed as mortal gods due to their great magical abilities. They were generally regarded as more approachable than “pure” gods. In The Broken Kingdoms Appendix 2, Nemue Sarfith Enulai speaks of Yiho of the Shoth Clan — a daughter of Enefa, and likely an ancestor of Oree Shoth — who created salmonlike river fish to feed her countrymen during a famine. As a result of this and other boons provided by the demons, many mortals helped to hide their local demons when the gods turned on them. In the Maroland, demons became a special class of bodyguard-historians called enulai, who helped to guard and guide the royal family of the various Maro peoples until the Maroland's destruction.
Most demons were the descendants of Nahadoth via hundreds of mortal men and women, though godlings parented many as well. The goddess Enefa bore comparatively few demon children, as carrying these children made her unwell (a warning of their deadly blood). The god Itempas is known to have fathered only two demons: Shinda Arameri, son of Shahar Arameri; and Glee Shoth, daughter of Oree Shoth.
The book was well received. It won the 2011 Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award. It was shortlisted for the 2010 Tiptree Award, the 2011 Crawford Award, and was nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, the 2011 David Gemmell Legend Award, and the Goodreads Readers' Choice Award for Fantasy.
- First unabridged audiobook edition of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms on WorldCat
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- nkjemisin.com - The Inheritance Trilogy Non-Wiki: Locations
- nkjemisin.com - The Inheritance Trilogy Non-Wiki: Races
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- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms on Goodreads