The Inheritance Trilogy (N.K. Jemisin)
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The Inheritance Trilogy (not to be confused with The Inheritance Cycle) is a fantasy trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. The first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and the trilogy itself has been nominated for several awards.
Yeine is half-Arameri and half-Darr. She is small with curly hair, and can sometimes be taken for a boy. She’s the chieftain, or ennu, of the Darre, which is a matriarchal society of warriors (reminiscent of the Amazons), until she is made a potential heir to the Arameri throne and put in charge of three other countries, all of them who are bigger than Darre. Because of her bluntness and Darre manners, she is called a barbarian by the Arameri.
Yeine is a resilient, independent woman. She’s learned to mask her emotions from the Darre people, but cannot fake friendliness and affection for those she does not like. She loathes the Arameri family, but will use Arameri tactics to protect those she loves. She treats the Enefadeh with respect unlike most of her kinsmen.
Because Enefa’s soul is within her body, she can hear the goddess’ voice and see visions. Even though everyone, including Nahadoth, expects Enefa’s soul to overtake her own, her soul defeats Enefa’s and she replaces the goddess with Enefa’s blessing.
N.K. Jemisin’s character study names her as impulsive and irrational (she obsesses over her mother’s murder even when she has other things to worry about), and not above hurting herself to get what she needs.
Nahadoth is the Nightlord, otherwise known as the god of night, chaos, and change. He was the first of the gods to exist. When Itempas murdered Enefa, he led his children in revolt against him, and was forced into a mortal body as a punishment. By day, he is "Naha," a tortured human. By night, however, he is free to become something close to what he once was. Nahadoth is shaped by the thoughts and expectations of those around him.
He is the father of Sieh, and loves Enefa, and later Yeine. It is implied that he’s seduced many Arameri, and when they finally whisper, “Nahadoth, do with me as you please,” he brings them so much pleasure that they die.
The god of law, order, light, and rules, Bright Itempas came after Nahadoth and though at first they fought, later they became lovers. He kills Enefa and imprisons Nahadoth and his children, but offers the Nightlord a chance to be free and serve him every time a new Arameri ruler is chosen.
He is worshipped as the Skyfather by the Arameri people, who imposed him on all the peoples they conquered and declared all who remembered Nahadoth and the others as heretics.
The goddess of twilight, dawn, balance, life, and death, she came third of the Three. She was the one who created life. Sieh was her firstborn. From the beginning, Nahadoth delighted in her creations, but Itempas didn’t because he disliked change. She loves both Nahadoth and Bright Itempas, and Sieh obviously longs for her to love him like a mother. She seemingly has no choice but to love her children, but is also feared by them. When she is murdered, Itempas keeps a part of her soul, trapped in the Stone, and the rest is gathered and placed into Yeine by the Enefadeh.
The Trickster god, he is the firstborn of Nahadoth and Enefa. A perpetual child, with a child’s cleverness and a child’s cruelty, he has bright green eyes and a falsely innocent demeanor. Sieh has chosen the path of a child, and therefore despite his age he can’t stop loving and longing for a mother. Yeine notices at one point that when he is intent on something, he doesn’t blink. He possesses a room full of multi-colored orbs in Sky, the Arameri palace which are actually a sun and planets stolen from various other solar systems.
The goddess of wisdom, she betrays the Enefadeh’s plan to Itempas. She is described as very beautiful, with gold and silver wings, though she takes the form of a plump, old librarian when she first appears to Yeine. Yeine kills her after she replaces Enefa.
The goddess of war and battle, she is huge, and described as taller kneeling than Sieh standing. Like Kurue and Sieh, she is another of Nahadoth’s children, and the one to mark Yeine so that she’ll be free from Arameri control. Yeine earns her respect after she kills Kurue.
The Ruler of the Arameri and Yeine’s grandfather, he offered his wife to transfer the Stone to him, which killed her and alienated his daughter, Kinneth. Despite this he continues to love his daughter, and always hoped for her return. In N.K. Jemisin’s character study, she reveals that Dekarta blames Yeine for taking Kinneth from him.
One of the potential heirs and a cousin once-removed from Yeine, Scimina is a cruel, half-mad woman with no conscience whatsoever. She sets Nahadoth on Yeine the first time she meets her and threatens to destroy Darre if she isn’t named as heir. She sits at Dekarta’s right hand at the Council, and is described as “a reedy Amn beauty of sable hair, patrician features, and regal grace.”
Scimina’s younger twin brother and the other potential heir, Relad surrounds himself with pleasure. He seems to have an infatuation with Scimina, keeping nude women who look like her around him. Nevertheless, despite his desperate love for his sister, he knows full-well that she will kill him if she can and allies with Yeine.
A half-blood like Yeine, he is the palace steward and a good man who takes care of the servants and cares for Yeine. He was part Amn and part Ken, and gets his red-colored hair from his Ken side. His Amn father was also Relad and Scimina’s older brother. T’vril shares with Yeine that his father was fond of very young women, and got T’vril’s mother with child. He was executed for breaking the worldwide age of consent. T’vril is said to be just as smart of Scimina or Relad. Yeine orders Dekarta to name him heir after she takes Enefa’s place.
The palace Scrivener—or scholar of the gods—he claims to have been Kinneth’s friend and offers to befriend Yeine. Yeine doesn’t trust him, and later figures out that he was her mother’s lover and that she used him to learn the truth about her mother’s death.
A matriarchal society, Darre is made of tribes and ruled by the ennu, which happens to be Yeine. Darre publicly rescinded their faith in Nahadoth and the Enefadeh when they were conquered by the Arameri, but still worship them in secret. The men in Darre are trophies, and used basically to sire children, though many couples, such as Kinneth and Yeine’s father, are deeply in love.
The Darre have a brutal coming-of-age ceremony, in which the young woman has to survive in the forest for a month, and then return home to fight publicly with a man her sponsor has chosen. She will either win and control the sex that follows, or be brutally raped.
Usually, the sponsor chooses a weak man, but because the Darre people don’t trust Yeine’s Amn blood, her grandmother chooses the strongest warrior. Yeine fights as best she can, fulfills the ceremony, and then kills her rapist with a rock afterwards, effectively claiming her right to rule.
The Darre people are said to have dark skin, straight hair, and lush curves.
The city of Sky is sprawled over a small mountain and completely white. The Palace, which is also called Sky and where the majority of the story takes place, was built by the gods and sits above the earth, floating in the sky. In Sky (the city), there is the Salon, a white-walled building where the Consortium (world council) meets to pretend that they aren’t all just obeying the Arameri.
The most populous and powerful race, ruled by the Arameri, who indirectly rule the Senmite races by "advising" the Nobles Consortium, (world council), and the Order of Intempas (Intempas priests). Though they possess many armies and are a powerful nation in their own right, the reason the Amn people rose to power was largely due to the priestess, Shahar Arameri, who helped Intempas kill Enefa and whose offspring were therefore granted the Enefadeh as weapons.
The Amn people are said to be tall with sable hair.