The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.


In a lot of ways, this book is the sequel to a book that does not exist, yet I would have rather read. The story revolves around a young woman named Yeine exploring a tower-city called Sky and trying to discover the secrets of her family’s past, particularly her mother’s. Mostly she does this by asking people, and sometimes they tell her things, and sometimes they don’t. This latter group she sometimes asks again, later, and they do tell her. The result is that her mother sounds like a much more interesting character to be the protagonist of a fantasy novel and I’m left wondering why that wasn’t what this book was in the first place.

But the story is not the only thing here. The central conceit of this book is interesting: what if (basically) the ancient Greeks enslaved their Gods and used them to conquer the world? What would such a political system be like? How would the Gods themselves feel about this? Oh, and what if the God of Night were a dreamboat bad-boy sex machine? On the one hand, I think this premise is fairly exiting, but the execution feels lacking. Instead of 100,000 kingdoms, we only really learn about two: the tower-city ruling clan and the conquered people of Yeine’s country. And if the book does have something interesting to say about even this pair, it’s lost amidst the personal conflicts surrounding Yeine herself.

The book is beautifully written, though. The gods feel much more real than the human characters, feel like they have real stakes, even if they are awfully petty for being ancient, cosmos-spanning entities. Why couldn’t one of them have been the protagonist? Maybe because then we would have missed out on a fairly incredible god-mortal sex scene, which, honestly, might be worth the price of the book.

Not totally excited to read the next books in this series, though I could be convinced.