The Broken Kingdoms read-along part 3

The Broken KingdomsHi everyone, and welcome to part 3 of the The Broken Kingdoms read-along. I’m the host for this section, covering chapters 11-16, so be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll add it to the blog-hop list 🙂

Spoilers for book 1 are no longer an issue, but there will of course be loads of spoilers for this book, in both the questions and answers.

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1. Oree chooses not to reveal Shiny’s identity to Dateh. Did you agree with her decision? What might have happened if she’d chosen otherwise?
I really wanted her to tell Dateh the truth, but I guess that’s because I just wanted him to be devastated by it. He probably wouldn’t have believed her though.

But if he did? Well Oree thought it would be too risky to tell “madmen” something so devastating to their beliefs, and she may be right. What if their belief in Itempas proves to be more important to them than Itempas himself? As Oree says about Itempas, “He was never what we wanted him to be”. Dateh’s beliefs have no room for the real Itempas, who was Nahadoth’s lover and loves him still. He’s committed himself to an insanely dangerous and ambitious plan that he cannot back away from now. He might prefer to kill or imprison Itempas than to acknowledge the truth about him.

Now that they’re out of the New Lights’ clutches though, I’m eager to see what happens if (when?) Dateh learns the truth.

2. Madding’s dead 😦 How do you feel about his death? What do you make of his last words to Oree?
Damn it, I was afraid of this. His relationship with Oree was too good, too comforting. It felt like he was going to die, sacrificed to the needs of the narrative. And his death is so very useful. It cements the reader’s hatred for Dateh. It gives us a chance to see what Dateh does with the gods’ bodies (I’d completely forgotten that Role’s heart was missing). It shows how much Itempas cares about his children.

It also introduces so many complications for Oree. She called Madding. Her blood was used to kill him. I wasn’t her fault, but she’s dangerous in ways she can’t fully control.

It was such a sad and touching scene. Madding doesn’t suddenly fear or revile her – he says he always knew she was special and tells her how much he loves her. I also like that he said “Don’t let him use you […] You’re more than just a weapon.” Presumably he’s speaking about Dateh but I actually thought he was talking about Shiny at first, warning her that Shiny might use her as an excuse to hunt down demons again, and he shouldn’t let her.

3. Itempas has seen what terrible things people do in his name. What do you make of Dateh’s interpretation of Itempan faith? Could this help rehabilitate Itempas or will he simply see the New Lights as a delusional sect?
I loved that bit in the dinner scene where Shiny asks how how killing Itempas’s children can be seen as serving him. Here we have a priest lecturing his god, explaining why god would want them to commit these atrocities, when in fact that god only sees his children being murdered.

But Dateh’s idea of things does make sense in a crazy kind of way. The godlings are chaotic; driving them away restores order. Nahadoth is a god of chaos with a grudge against humanity, so why not kill him? Itempas himself set a precedent for such cruelty in the God’s War. And Dateh actually says they worship Itempas because he’s such a great killer. Which is pretty creepy…

I have no idea how Itempas is going to be changed by this. He might want to lay down stricter laws, perhaps make some kind of bible. “Thou shalt not murder my children and eat their hearts.” But hopefully he’ll realise that the Three were meant to  rule together and a faith that will only acknowledge one of them is inherently dysfunctional.

4. After Madding’s death, Oree loses the will to live, except to stop the New Lights. Shiny wants to kill her because she’s a demon. Do you think she’ll survive the events of the novel? Is it safer to wipe out the demons?
Up until the last chapter where Oree’s wounds were attended to, I thought there was a pretty good chance she’d die trying to stop the New Lights. Now, I’m not so sure. She might be willing to sacrifice herself as a kind of response to Madding’s murder, but I hope she doesn’t

On the existence of demons… Yes, they’re a danger to the gods. And more importantly, they can be used by humans as weapons against the gods. So from that perspective it’s understandable that they should be wiped out.

But that’s assuming the gods should not have any threat to their immortality, except for each other, and that they should definitely not have to fear humans. But should the gods be kept sacred in this way? This is a different world and the gods are very powerful beings rather than sacred ones, if that makes sense? Does their power mean they should also have the power not to fear or even care about humanity?

I don’t want anyone – especially people like Dateh – murdering gods. I think the gods are awesome. However, since the gods can very easily kill or harm humans, isn’t it fair for the playing field to be levelled a bit? The gods might be forced to treat humans with more respect. They wouldn’t be quite so intimidating, but I don’t think people would generally go round killing them in the same way that we don’t kill other people just because we can. The world’s societies could become a mix of gods and humans, especially if godlings are allowed to have children with humans again.

Mortality might be a good thing for them too. Earlier in the novel, Oree was recounting a bit of history and said that mortality was considered a gift, something humans had and gods lacked. Demon’s blood is a threat to gods who don’t want to die, but what if one wanted to? If a god got tired of existing, or wanted to live like a human, knowing that death was inevitable? Demon blood could give them that option.

And as Madding said to Oree, she’s more than just a weapon. Just because someone is potentially dangerous – a martial arts expert, for example – doesn’t give us a reason to kill that person. Why should it be different for demons?

5. Itempas shares his feelings about his actions in the God’s War. Have your feelings about him changed at all?
I’ve warmed to him. Not so keen to see him punished as I was before. He’s been more helpful to Oree, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how polite he was to the beggars who helped them.

His account of the God’s War also makes him so much more relatable. He said he loved Enefa. Maybe not in the same way he loves Nahadoth, but he didn’t hate her, which was the impression given in book 1. Deciding to kill Enefa was perhaps a case of him taking his own desire for order too far. Kind of like the New Lights? And like Dateh he chose a path and couldn’t turn back. That would have meant facing up to the wrath of Nahadoth and all the godlings, when it was in his power to subdue them instead. He chose arrogance over humility (no surprise there).

It’s very cowardly, but very human. How often do people try to avoid facing up to the mistakes they’ve made? Or get arrogant and aggressive as a defence? Sometimes it seems easier to live with the consequences of your mistake – even if that means being miserable – rather than admitting you were wrong and setting things right.

6. There’s something odd about Hado. Shiny says to him “You are not quite yourself. […] Something of him lingers.” Oree notes that Hado’s shadow is darker than the non-magical things around him. Could he be more than just a spy, and if so, what?
Perhaps he’s allowed himself to be possessed by a god or godling, to help take down the New Lights.  Since his form looks so dark to Oree, maybe it’s a child of Nahadoth, or even Nahadoth himself. Which would be great, because then he knows about Dateh’s plans. However, I’m not sure if Nahadoth would be so willing to work closely with the Arameri after being their slave for 2000 years, so maybe it’s someone else.

Other

– It’s weird that Oree still prays to Itempas, even when he’s standing right next to her. She still thinks of herself as an Itempan (albeit a lapsed one) and of Itempas as her god even though she now knows what he’s really like.

– If Shiny can use magic to defend himself – like he did with the Order-Keepers – how come he hasn’t been able to use it against Dateh and the other New Lights when they kill him?

– I’ve been wondering about the extra limbs Oree sometimes sees on Dateh. Could be the result of eating godling hearts, which he says is the seat of their divine essence when in human form. Perhaps the remainders of the dead godlings are contained within him?

– Can’t Oree or Itempas pray to Nahadoth and tell him about Dateh’s plot that way? Unless Itempas has already done this.

– Yay, so glad we get to see the altered Sky palace! So cool how Oree can now ‘see’ because the walls are made of magical materials.

Links
Dab of Darkness
Books Without Any Pictures
Tethyan Books
Book Bound
All I Am, a Redhead

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13 thoughts on “The Broken Kingdoms read-along part 3

  1. My answers! http://tethyanbooks.blogspot.fr/2014/01/read-along-broken-kingdoms-by-nk-jemisin_20.html

    Yeah, now that they’re free of the New Lights, I would like Dateh to have to come to terms with what he did *to his god* for all those days. Madding’s death was so heartbreaking :(. I agree with your thoughts on the existence of demons.

    On your other thoughts:
    -Maybe Oree also worships the Itempas she wants to exist, rather than the one she knows exists :).
    -I think he can only use the power to protect humans. Since Oree wasn’t there being threatened, he was helpless.
    -Interesting thought. Maybe there’s something left of Madding? I really want to believe they can resurrect him, even though I don’t think that’s going to happen :(.
    -Oree mentioned that you had to be really devoted to and knowledgeable about a god to be able to make them hear your prayers. I don’t think Oree could get word to Nahadoth that way, then. But maybe Itempas could?

    • – Yes, Oree might worship out of habit. And maybe her faith in Itempas will help Shiny a bit.

      – The thing is, Shiny was alone with the Order-Keepers when he murdered them in that alley. He was only protecting himself, not Oree. And I think Yeine’s rules allow him to use magic when he’s under great personal threat. But perhaps Dateh hasn’t been threatening enough, at least not as bad as a group of Order-Keepers. Maybe if he tried to eat Shiny’s heart as you mentioned in your post, the magic would kick in.

      – I’m also holding out a tiny hope that Madding could be resurrected…

      – I think Itempas could definitely contact Nahadoth then. Sadly, Nahadoth might ignore him.

  2. 1. I think you are spot on in your assessment that the way they believe in Itempas is more important than what Itempas actually is. Without getting too cynical, I think a lot of religions develop like that in our world, so of course they would in a fictional world too. I also think withholding that knowledge gave Oree a bit of a safety net. Shiny protects her, after all, and if Dateh had known I think he would have destroyed or incapacitated him, and Oree would be left without many options.

    2. I did not see that one coming. It was a good, affecting scene, and it definitely added personal stakes to the mix. I think he might return in some form or other, though.

    3. As Shiny has said, he’s not really made to change. I don’t think this will be the thing that spurs change in him, just unfortunately cause him more regret and pain (yes, I actually like Shiny a lot). He may get there eventually, but not through this single event.

    4. Well, she is a first person narrator. I think, rather like Yeine, Oree will “die,” but really change, become something new.

    5. It’s very easy to dislike Itempas, especially since as readers we got to see Nahadoth and Yeine first, and to see through Oree’s eyes as she becomes disillusioned with what her idea of Itempas used to be. But I think Jemisin made a great choice by showing that yes, he is arrogant, yes, he is stubborn and cruel, but he is also faceted and multidimensional. I’m starting to see things from his side, even if I don’t really agree with that side, and it helps me like him a lot more.

    6. I am 97% sure at this point that Hado is some manifestation of Nahadoth. (Didn’t his “daylight self” separate when he was freed, and was allowed to live?) The name, the conversation with Shiny…it’s the thing that makes most sense to me right now. I really, really wanted to read ahead to find out, but I was good 😀

    • 1. I feel the same way about our world’s religions, and I think there are a ton of parallels with the gods and religions here. Dateh’s theology in particular made me think of the way people do horrible things to others because they think god wants them to.

      3. A Shiny fan! What next? 🙂

      5. I love Jemisin’s multifaceted characters; you can have all sort of different feelings about them. She’s handled Shiny nicely, slowly winning the reader’s sympathy for him. We don’t have to agree with him, as you say, but it helps that we can understand him.

      6. I think the daylight Nahadoth is the best theory. I’d completely forgotten about him!

  3. Here’s my response: http://schreibenundwriting.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/the-broken-kingdoms-read-along-week-3/ 🙂

    I was so uncertain about Oree telling Dateh who Shiny really was. Could you imagine him? I just see them not even killing him, but putting him in a guilded cage or some rubbish – making him just sit and be the god they want him to be.

    Hmm yes, I wonder what would happen if the playing field was leveled a bit? It’s never really been an issue in any other fiction book I’ve read about gods and having them come down to a mortal level. But maybe in The Broken Kingdoms it could?

    And I’m wondering a lot about Hado too… Because my first instinct is to think that ah! It’s Nahadoth, but.. it can’t be?

    • It’d be interesting to see if gods are more integrated with human society in the final book (I’m avoiding looking at the blurb in case of spoilers). The Three should ideally stay separate – can’t risk destroying the universe! – but a world of humans, demons and godlings would be pretty cool.

      • I certainly hope so… though I want to read the third book so badly now! I really hope there’s something about a newer world where they are all equals (minus the Three of course).

  4. Oh, right, I was wondering about those extra limbs on Dateh as well. I think we are still in the dark when it comes to who exactly he is.

    It was very creepy hearing how New LIghts loved Itempass because he was such a great killer. And I think it was great for Shiny to hear it – I don’t think he understood how people perceived him and what they did in his name.

    • Yes, Shiny’s arrogance probably means he doesn’t have much empathy and doesn’t consider what theology people have for him or what they might do in his name.

  5. I’m wondering if all of the demons might not have something different about them. Perhaps Dateh’s extra limbs and Oree’s eyes are somehow related.

    I think that Oree praying to Itempas even though she knows the truth about him is more out of habit and for comfort than from actual belief. She knows that it makes her feel better, so she continues to do it out of tradition. I think a lot of people do that, and pray despite their own doubts or skepticism.

    The dinner argument with Shiny was awesomely ironic. I was just like “Duuuuuude! You don’t know who you’re talking to!”

    • Oh, I hadn’t thought of Dateh’s limbs that way! Interesting theory.

      Yes, you’re probably right about the prayer. Also, Oree tends to pray out of desperation, so it makes sense that she’d fall back on habit, on whatever comforted her in the past.

      The dinner argument was fantastic. I would have loved to be Oree at that moment, although the look on my face might have given everything away.

  6. That’s a good point about Dateh’s beliefs about Itempas being more important than the god himself. I wonder how many of us might be guilty of the same thing?

    Very insightful about Madding’s last words. Oree could be used by so many right now. By the Risen Sun to take out gods and godlings alike. But also by the gods to show how dangerous the demons are and why they must be hunted down, again, but also as an excuse to separate the godlings from the world of man, again.

    I like the idea of the playing field being leveled and gods/godlings having to at least consider mortality. It might make them sacred again instead of just powerful.

    I think Shiny can only defend himself (with powers) when he is also actively trying to defend a mortal. When Dateh repeatedly kills him, Oree isn’t around being threatened. Same when Madding was killed. Oree was shoved aside and since Madding was immortal, Shiny couldn’t use powers when defending Madding or simply fighting for himself.

    I think Oree is too afraid of Nahadoth to pray to him, to call his name. Shiny…not so sure. Perhaps just his stubborn arrogance getting in the way, or perhaps Nahadoth wouldn’t listen to him no matter what he said.

    • I think religions in general are guilty of that sort of thing, and fanatics in particular.

      About Shiny’s defences – wasn’t he able to use magic to defend himself from the Order-Keepers in the alley though? He was alone at the time. Madding brought Oree later, and that’s when she met Yeine.

      I think you’re right about Oree being too afraid of Nahadoth, especially considering the final chapter. And yeah, Nahadoth might not listen to Shiny, and he wouldn’t pray to Yeine. He could still use another godling… But anyway, it all worked out.

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