And so ends our read-along of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I’m so glad I took part in this and I’m particularly glad to be your host for the last part, because it was EPIC and so much of it took me completely by surprise. This last section covers everything from chapter 23 onward and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did 🙂 If you have a post, be sure to leave your link in the comments so I can add it to the blog-hop list and check out what you had to say.
Since I have a ton of things to say, I’ll jump right into the discussion:
1. Yeine shows us the meaning of esui when she summons Nahadoth, makes an offering of herself, and asks him to make love to her like the god he is. What did you think of her decision and the scenes that followed? Cosmic sex or verging on comic? What importance does sex has for their relationship?
Well, it certainly was dangerous. Yeine’s going to die anyway, but if Nahadoth had, umm, fucked her to death, she wouldn’t have freed the gods, avenged her mother’s murder, or saved Darre. She would have died for one night of divine sex, which, despite the thrills, would have been a waste.
I can understand the temptation though 😀 The sexual tension between Nahadoth and Yeine has been building since she stabbed him in the chest and he responded by kissing her. It was all the more exciting because of how much Nahadoth wanted her. The way he changed to fit her fantasies was pretty damn hot.
But as the sex scene escalated, I kept thinking of the stupid cliche of the earth moving, of the way sex sometimes gets hyped up to absurdly grand proportions. And then, when Yeine woke up to find that they’d trashed the room, I’m sorry to say that it made me think of the Twilight series (which I loathe).
However, it’s sex with a god, so it has to be over the top. It’s also about far more than just pleasure. Nahadoth needs that bond like humans need food or water, so much so that his children even become his lovers to prevent him from going insane. As goddess-Yeine says later, the Three were made to be together, not alone. The sex scene gives us a better idea of who Nahadoth is and how much he’s suffered. Although Yeine is looking for pleasure, she also shows Nahadoth how much she cares by taking this risk. Later, Enefa also says that Yeine “defeated” her. Perhaps the sex was part of that?
2. Relad makes a last-minute play for succession by offering to help the Darre. Are you satisfied with his role in this book or do you think he should have had more of a presence? What do you think of his strategy to get Yeine to choose him over Scimina?
Relad’s manoeuvre came out of the blue. He’d done absolutely nothing to compete with Scimina for Yeine’s vote, and his plan to help Darre seemed a like it was added because it doesn’t make sense of Relad to just go calmly to his death (he suggests Scimina will kill him if she wins). I would have preferred him to play a bigger role, especially since he seems to be a nice guy at heart, unlike his evil sister.
That said, I like that he understands Yeine – that she and her people are warriors and it’s not a war that troubles them so much as an unwinnable war. He doesn’t try to save her and her people, and anyway the idea of being saved by a man – particularly one Yeine does not respect – goes against Darre culture.
3. The final chapters show us more of Dekarta’s character than the rest of the book. How do you feel about him now, knowing the truth of his motives and of Kinneth’s death?
I thought Dekarta became more relatable. On the downside, he brought Yeine to Sky just to kill her in a religious ceremony. It’s also a macabre attempt to restore order. Kinneth broke from tradition and forced Dekarta to find new heirs. By making Yeine the sacrifice, Dekarta was bringing her wayward bloodline back into Arameri tradition.
On the other hand, Dekarta only does this because he loved his daughter and thought he was the one taking revenge on her murderer. It doesn’t quite make sense that he didn’t question this assumption when Yeine first accused him of murdering Kinneth earlier in the book, but I’ll overlook that for now. He acknowledges his mistake, and apologises. He doesn’t try to make rectify his error, but Arameri leaders are leaders because they’re ruthless, and anyway the ceremony is about to begin. I wouldn’t ask a mad god to reschedule either.
And when Dekarta learns that the god he worshipped was the one who killed his daughter, I think he’s devastated, and does not cling stupidly to his faith. He handles the changes that follow with dignity, and I respected him for it.
4. The Succession Ceremony: Absolutely nothing turns out the way anyone thought it would. Did any of it match your expectations? What are your thoughts on what happened?
The only thing I expected was for this ceremony to be epic, and Jemisin really delivered! Almost everything else about it surprised me. I was totally wrong about T’vril playing a part. I had no idea what would happen when Yeine transferred the sigil, but I thought she’d at last be able to get that far. The Viraine/Itempas thing completely blindsided me. I didn’t think Scimina or Relad would play a significant role, and I was right about that, but I was a bit shocked and saddened when that psycho bitch murdered her brother. I can’t say I was sad that she ended the novel collared and leashed at the mercy of the god she’d made into her whore.
I hated Kurue for betraying the Enefadeh and her attempt to side with Itempas. However, she does make a good point – what might have happened if the four Enefadeh tried to go up against Itempas? Enefa would not have been restored in that scenario, so she would not have been able to help them. They might “end up enslaved again or worse”, as Kurue suggests. I also like that she said this:
Our mother is dead, Sister. Itempas won. I hate it too – but it’s time we accepted this.
It made me see a sad, dysfunctional side to the Enefadeh – they can’t get over their mother’s death, and they’ve gone to desperate measures to get her back. Humans have to deal with death and an attempt at resurrection would be pathological. But the gods are immortal, and can’t handle such loss.
5. We finally meet Itempas, a mad god whose overpowering love and hate caused all this suffering. What did you think of him?
So glad we get to meet him 🙂 I hate him, but I love fucked up characters and he’s really, really fucked up. So insanely monogamous that he went to war for it, and would rather enslave Nahadoth than share him. So insanely jealous that all he really wants is to be alone in the universe with Nahadoth. I mean, I like things to be orderly too, but that’s just nuts.
I hadn’t even considered the possibility of Itempas inhabiting a human body, even though both his siblings had done so. The crazy stalker aspect of it is so creepy:
disguised by Viraine’s mind and soul, Itempas could watch Nahadoth like a voyeur. He could command Nahadoth and thrill in his obedience. He could pretend to be doing Dekarta’s will while manipulating events to exert subtle pressure on Nahadoth. All without Nahadoth’s knowledge.
I wonder if Itempas ever tried to have a sex with Nahadoth or Naha while in Viraine’s body…
6. As a goddess, Yeine makes some dramatic decisions and changes, like altering Sky, killing Kurue, and trapping Itempas in mortal form. How do you feel about this new goddess-Yeine? Would you have down anything differently
Yeine’s transformation was surprising, and pretty awesome 🙂 I was glad that Enefa ended up dying for good, partly because it meant that Yeine got to live. I also liked that her death fit her nature as a goddess. Life exists because of her, but death is a part of life, so it makes sense that Enefa would live and die, but give new life in the process. She has a different kind of immortality, and I imagine goddess-Yeine will one day die too, and create a new goddess in the process. It reminds me of the Darren Aronofsky movie The Fountain, where the main character learns that eternal life is not about one person living forever, but about life going on forever and constantly changing form (eg. a tree grows on a grave).
In light of that it would be too simplistic to kill Itempas as an act of revenge. The gods were meant to be three, so Yeine has to find a way of reuniting them, despite Itempas’s jealousy and Nahadoth’s anger. A family squabble, as she once called it 🙂 And because she’s Yeine, not Enefa, she doesn’t hold a grudge against Itempas for killing her. Enefa herself may have been too angry to reunite the gods.
i like the punishment/rehabilitation Yeine chooses for him. It’s apt, after forcing Nahadoth and his children to live in mortal form. Hopefully the experience will humble him and he’ll have a kinder view of the human race when Yeine restores him to his true state. However, I do wonder if he’ll hate humanity even more after this. I’m curious to see how the laws that Yeine lays down for Itempas will play out:
You will wander among mortals as one of them, unknown, commanding only what wealth and respect you can earn with your deeds and words. You may call upon your power only in great need, and only to aid these mortals for whom you hold such contempt. You will right the wrongs inflicted in your name.
The way Yeine transformed Sky was amazing, from a sterile pearl-white building to a lush jungle palace within a World Tree (as it’s called in the blurb for book 2). That’s something I would love to see on film. Can someone please give Jemisin a movie deal?
Killing Kurue was a bit harsh, but Sieh mentioned that Enefa sometimes killed things. And Kurue may have been a danger because she resented Nahadoth for his decision to fight against Itempas.
I felt happy for T’vril, when Yeine ordered Dekarta to make him heir. He’d be a good ruler, although I feel sorry for him having to handle the inevitable conflict that will follow the events of the failed Succession Ceremony.
7. Wrapping up: What did you think of the ending and of the book as a whole? Any loose ends you’d like tied up? How might the world be changed by these events? Will you read the next book to find out?
I loved this book. And to think I was a bit apprehensive about reading it because I’m not a big fan of epic fantasy 🙂 The only issues I have with it are fairly minor – the issues I mentioned above and questions I thought were left unanswered (or that I missed the answers to). For example, what exactly was the purpose of the sigil Zhakkarn gave Yeine at the beginning? Why did Kinneth leave her love letters in Sky? Where do the “lost ones” that Sky ‘eats’ go? With Enefa’s soul, Yeine was Kinneth’s best chance of getting revenge on Dekarta, so why did she not want the baby to be born and then try to kill her? Also, the details of the Succession Ceremony were a bit unclear. I think everyone in this read-along expressed some confusion as to how it works.
But none of that bothers me too much; it just feels a bit untidy. I was keen to read this whole series after just a few chapters and the ending was so satisfyingly epic. I love the characters, the world, Jemisin’s ability to intrigue and surprise me, and her epic ideas. I was happy to sign up for another two read-alongs to finish the series.
It’d be interesting to see what these events do for Darre. Their ennu became a god and in human form is dressed like a Darren. Zhakkarn, goddess of war, personally went to save them from attack. Yeine mentions at one point that the rest of the world isn’t as green as Darre, which means that Darren land is most akin to the sense of life that Yeine/Enefa embodies. They will go from being the most disregarded nation, to the one most favoured by the gods.
And religion will undergo massive changes. Imagine if, in our world, the Christian God was revealed to be mad, Satan was revealed as the good guy who’d been betrayed by God, and Satanism became the new Christianity (but not in an evil way). It’d be chaos!
– I love the last scene between Yeine and T’vril. Sweet and affectionate. I’m glad he turned out to be a friend.
– Really enjoyed reading the two Appendices. You can see how Shahar Arameri influenced Arameri culture – paradoxically, she made them the most powerful family in the world by neglecting family in favour of aiding and dying for her god. The textbook-style info on the gods was cool too, particularly the stuff about the nature of Zhakkarn. I’d happily read more on the other gods as well.