Hi everyone, it’s The Kingdom of Gods read-along part 2! This section covers chapters 5-10, so there will of course be spoilers up to that point. I’m your host for this week, so be sure to leave your link in the comments. And without further ado, lets get to the Q&A.
1. Do you think Shahar can keep her childhood promise and be a good person and an Arameri?
Based on what Sieh said, it seems unlikely – eventually her family will defeat her. She already made the mistake of participating in her mother’s schemes by seducing Sieh. She very badly wants her mother and brother’s love, and that could easily get in the way of her noble goals for the Arameri. However, there is some hope in the fact that the Arameri have changed so much over the past few decades; maybe they no longer have the power to corrupt her. And based on her name, I expect that Shahar will somehow be a world-changing character.
I also wonder what effect the last set of events at Sky will have on Shahar. She agreed to seduce Sieh in the hope of getting her brother back, and perhaps winning her mother’s approval. She knew she’d lose Sieh’s friendship in the process. When she learned that having a child would kill Sieh, she revealed the plan, which led to Sieh slaughtering a whole bunch of family members. How might Shahar interpret this? Does she see herself as a vulnerable child caught between her mother’s scheming and Sieh’s murderous nature? Or does she blame herself for betraying a friend and causing the deaths of some of her family members? I’m keen to get back to Sky palace and see how Shahar has changed.
2. The Arameri family has changed drastically and now we learn they’re being systematically killed off. Do you like the changes? Do you feel sorry for the family or are they getting what they deserve?
I like most of the changes, even though the Arameri must have been very reluctant to change. Nevertheless, I things have improved – they’re more racially diverse, and more tolerant of religious differences. They have non-Amn employees in high ranks, and the Head Scrivener is (was) a primortalist.
On the downside, we now have the Arameri going to desperate measures, like trying to have demon children and breeding incestuously to avoid ‘polluting’ the bloodline.
I think they’re getting what they deserve though. The possibility that their deaths might start another Gods’ War if a godling is responsible is, of course, a major problem, but I don’t think the Arameri deaths themselves are all that tragic. I feel a bit sorry for Shahar who seems unnerved by the prospect of her family disappearing, but for the most part the Arameri don’t even seem upset about the idea of losing family. It’s the fact that they’re losing power that’s their problem. At this point, I think the only reason they should retain power is to help keep the peace. If they can’t, or if that’s no longer necessary, then screw ’em. The Arameri have been responsible for centuries of oppression; it’s about time their reign ended.
3. Any theories on the antagonist that Sieh meets in his dream?
I think it’s Sieh’s son. He’s clearly a godling, but he says he’s not one of Sieh’s brothers. Although he’s very cold and angry, there’s a moment when he touches Sieh’s hair with something like affection.
Sieh obviously doesn’t know about a son, and I think he’s been forced to forget about this mystery figure, whoever it might be (the word “forget” keeps popping up when Sieh come close to the issue). A son could explain Sieh’s condition. As he told Shahar, having a child would kill him because childhood can’t survive it. Given that Sieh is dying but not dead, perhaps forgetting about the child was necessary for his survival; it still had a great affect on him, but as long as he doesn’t actually know about it he remains alive.
I think that would be quite an interesting scenario – the father who can’t be a father. Sieh would be an even worse father than Itempas because it’s antithetical to his being. Having a child automatically becomes an oftence against that child, hence the vengeance. If this is the case, I’m hoping that Sieh’s son’s plan to kill him is actually a way of changing Sieh – killing the god of childhood to make him into something that can accept fatherhood. Sieh’s suffering means that vengeance is – conveniently – part of the package. And if Sieh can be transformed, then maybe his son can have the father he wants.
If Sieh does have a son, I wonder who the other parent is? God or godling? Is the son an elontid or an mnasat? If he’s an elontid, is Itempas the father? Does that explain why he’s disappeared?
(Having done all this speculation I hope I’m right about some of it at least!)
4. Religious belief in the city and the palace has changed a lot, as have humans’ relationships with the gods. Thoughts? What might your beliefs be if you lived in Sky/Shadow?
I like that heresy has become trendy 🙂 Shows how far the world has come from the Itempas-or-death approach during the Interdiction. I also like the idea that most gods don’t want to be worshipped. As Ahad argues, it’s a transaction – the worshippers expect the god to give them something in return. At least The Arms of Night is more honest about that relationship. And why should gods want that just because they’re gods? Our standard understanding of gods is that they expect humans to worship them, but I Jemisin makes us question that assumption. Why would the gods expect to be worshipped just because they’re powerful? For Nahadoth, Itempas, and Enefa/Yeine it makes more sense because they created the world. But for the godlings? Some of them probably are vain enough to want worship, but most of them probably just aren’t interested.
I’d most likely be a primortalist since I’m not inclined to religious worship, but the gods still intrigue me. And I haven’t forgotten the great relationship Oree and Maddiing had. I have to admit, I’d probably want to check out The Arms of Night 🙂 It’d also be cool to just learn about the gods.
5. Sieh’s much more than the charming boy god we saw in book 1. How do you feel about his character at the moment?
It’s been suggested by at least one character that the version of Sieh we saw in book 1 was partly an act he put on for Yeine. I’m inclined to agree. Most of the time he takes childhood to dangerous extremes. The story started with Sieh’s jealousy and anguish about being excluded from his parents’ relationships. He played some scary games with the young twins. He kills people impulsively, and I thought his massacre at Sky Palace was impressive, but over the top. Especially since he killed the scrivener Shevir, who was quite nice. Sieh’s so self-absorbed that he never bothered to understand the choices his siblings made during the Gods’ War; he just wrote them off and he was powerful enough not to care what they thought of him. He’s also terribly hierarchical. He felt justified in killing the mnasat because “they were so foolish as to interfere in the concerns of their betters”.
I was also shocked when Sieh suggested to Ahad that gods shouldn’t have to pay for sex with humans, because all they needed to do was point to a mortal and take what they wanted. Sieh was raped repeatedly by the Arameri for two thousand years, but he doesn’t bat an eyelid at the idea of gods raping humans. His contempt for mortals and his sense of superiority is frightening.
His behaviour suits his nature as the god of childhood, but it also makes him seriously dysfunctional and – for me – increasingly unlikeable. He’s been through a lot, and he’s still struggling with some of his feelings, but he lacks the maturity to cope. It also seems unlikely that childhood could survive the experience of being an Arameri slave for two thousand years, so maybe Sieh has been a broken god for a long time.
6. Should Sieh work for Ahad?
While I hate the idea of Sieh being a whore again, I think he needs to spend time with humans and godlings. He’s so contemptuous of humans, which is no surprise given that most of his experiences with humans are based on his time as an Arameri slave. And he doesn’t seem to have many godling friends. He just wants to be with Yeine and Nahadoth, like a clingy child.
Ahad’s business doesn’t seem that bad either. It’s consensual and mutually beneficial. And I get the impression that it offers more than just sex, so maybe Sieh could provide some other kind of service?
– Those Arameri and their incestuous ways… What will Shahar and Deka make of it? Interesting that they can do in vitro fertilisation though.
– Wow, En can be pretty badass…