The Kingdom of Gods read-along: END

The Kingdom of GodsWe have finally come to the end of The Inheritance Trilogy read-along, and as the host for the section, it felt quite nice to do the last set of questions. To everyone who took part, I have to say I’ve really enjoyed reading and discussing these books with you. I’m also glad I finally discovered N.K. Jemisin, and I will definitely be checking out her other novels.

But right now, I have lots of things to discuss for this last section, so on with the Q&A!

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1. How do you feel about they way the relationship between Sieh, Deka and Shahar developed? How might this affect them as the Three of a new realm?
I was really glad that Sieh’s sexual relationship with Deka went so much better than the one he had with Shahar, but I also felt they treated Shahar rather poorly. Yes, she betrayed Sieh, but it was a mistake she made at 16. Lets not forget that Sieh once considered killing the twins for his own amusement, and massacred a room full of people in response to Shahar’s betrayal. So is Shahar who gets alienated as the person who can’t be trusted?

I felt quite sad for Shahar during the sex scene in the Temple, even though she later puts a positive spin on it by saying they showed her how to love. I couldn’t believe how conflictual the scene in the Throne Room became. Sieh really showed how poor his personal skills were by snubbing Shahar and then immediately showing his love for Deka.

When she dies and becomes a god along with Sieh and Deka, her arrival parallels Enefa’s – joining two other gods who have previously been lovers alone in the universe. Sieh and Deka would only have been alone for a few decades, unlike the millennia Nahadoth and Itempas had, but what makes this worrying for Shahar is that they already have an awkward history. On the other hand, I think they are also mature enough to make a better start, and to learn from the mistakes of the other Three. The idea of being able to create an entire universe is also very exciting, so overall I’m really happy for the new Three.

2. The series as a whole and this novel in particular is full of parents, and child-parent relationships often play major roles in the plot and characterisation. Is there anything that stood out for you? Any other thoughts on the theme?
Before I came up with this question, I hadn’t really thought about how many parents there were in this series, but then it hit me – Nahadoth, Itempas, Enefa, Shahar Arameri, Dekarta, Kinneth, Yeine, Oree, Sieh, Remath, Ahad. Often their relationships with their children are quite disturbing or dysfunctional, although they can be loving at the same time.

One thing I liked about the parenting theme is that it shows how fallible the gods are, and how terrifyingly epic their mistakes can be. Enefa made some particularly poor choices – conceiving a child with Sieh and then almost immediately forcing that child into indefinite solitude. If Enefa hadn’t died Kahl might still be trapped alone. Instead he gets free, tries to destroy the world, and gets killed by his father, who dies in the process. That’s like the worst family drama ever.

Paradoxically, expressions of great love from parents came from unlikely sources. The Dekarta in book 1 loved Kinneth a great deal, even though she left the family. Remath reveals how much she loves both her children, even though she could be incredibly cold. And Itempas, for all his crimes, is shown to be an amazingly loving father, more so than the fickle Nahadoth.

3. Can you sympathise at all with Kahl’s desire for revenge or was it just too insane?
I can sympathise to an extent – left alone for thousands of years, loneliness clearly drove him mad, and he has good reason to be very, very angry.

But, what I would have liked was an opportunity to sympathise with Kahl’s insanity a bit more, if that makes sense. We hear very little of his own perspective, and I wanted to know a bit more about his experiences, feelings, and how he could settle on such a devastating plan of vengeance. We know the gist of it, but I wanted a bit more nuance. As it stands, Kahl doesn’t inspire any strong feelings in me, which is disappointing when compared with Itempas, one the major antagonists from book 1. Even though Itempas only made a short appearance at the end, I had very strong opinions on him.

I liked Kahl’s plan to destroy the Tree and harvest enough bodies to power the mask though. Horrific, but smart.

4. “Nature is cycles, patterns, repetition.” What do you think of the way this idea plays into the plot and worldbuilding?
This series has often blurred the lines between gods and mortals, particularly in the way they all get so tangled up in the same kinds of personal problems. It makes sense then, that the lines are further blurred by the possibility of transformation for god, godlings, demons and humans. It means the mythology of this world is still being written. Even the gods don’t understand how everything works and it may be thousands of years before they learn more.

Given that Sieh, Deka and Shahar have a troubled history, their relationships as a new Three will no doubt be just as tumultuous as the relationships between Nahadoth, Itempas and Enefa/Yeine. I doubt anyone will get enslaved, but I think there will still be lots of drama.

5. Are you satisfied with the way everything turned out?
Not entirely. I’m glad there’s a happy ending for most, but there are lots of little things that bother me. How could it not occur to Sieh or anyone else that Kahl would use the mask to become a god? The Three could have reunited for the day to hunt him down. Instead they reunite only to address Sieh’s problem, completely ignoring a major cosmic threat. As I mentioned, I would have preferred to know more about Kahl, and if he’d been captured there would have been an opportunity for that. The sky-battle was cool, but not as satisfying as I’d hoped.

Why didn’t Sieh, Deka and Shahar try using their newly discovered powers to do something about Kahl? Especially after Remath’s revelations.

Glee seems so badass when she goes to battle Kahl with Itempas’s sword. Sieh suggests she’s deadly because this battle will be about more than just strength, and Kahl himself wavers at the sight of her. But then shortly after Sieh says Glee won’t last long and sure enough she tumbles to the earth without having achieved anything. I’m very glad she survived and lived happily ever after with Ahad though.

Sieh’s sacrifice makes sense in that it’s the first properly mature decision he makes, so it suits his transition to godhood. On the other hand, his plan is also based on deceiving Kahl (still the trickster) and instead of facing up to fatherhood he kills his son, obliterating the problem rather than dealing with it. I know that, at this point, there’s no other hope of stopping Kahl, but the whole thing could have been written differently.

I’m glad the world’s power structures change, and Kahl’s actions actually turn out to be useful in this regard – the world was easily united by the tragedy he caused rather than going to war.

I think it’s good that the Three were reconciled early, even though Itempas managed to avoid many centuries of punishment. However, it seems he got off because he fulfilled the clause about learning to love “truly”, and this makes no sense to me. Based on Shahar’s understanding, Itempas was freed because of the love he showed for Sieh after his death. However, this doesn’t mean he learned to love truly – as Glee explains, Itempas already loved Sieh very much. He loved all his children, and his love was powerful and constant, unlike Nahadoth’s. He loved Oree too. So he didn’t learn anything. In fact, I don’t think he needed to learn anything about love, but needed to develop his other personal skills. The sorrow he expressed was a result of his love for Sieh, not the first instance of love, so why should that save him? It would have made more sense if they had simply chosen the benefits of reconciliation over the satisfaction of punishment.

6. Now that we’ve finished the series, what do you think of it as a whole? How does The Kingdom of Gods compare to the first two books?
There are many things I love about this series – the mythology, the psychologies of the gods, the worldbuilding, the relationships between gods and mortals, the spirited narrators, the moral ambiguity, the plot and character development across the three books, the inclusion of so many major POC characters, the fluid sexuality, a blind protagonist in book 2, the way politics is entwined with personal stories… And that’s just the major things. Throughout my reading there will little details that impressed or simply amused me.

I particularly enjoyed the way the story of the Gods’ War got more and more layered as the series progressed. It was a great piece of mythology at the start, and it got fleshed out as we heard different perspectives on the story. We learn that it was never a simple case of good vs. evil as it seemed at the start.

However, The Kingdom of Gods is my least favourite of the series. It’s a good book, but there are too many different things going on, and too many details that bother me, most of which I’ve already discussed in the previous questions. I was really enjoying it at the start, and then it got a bit chaotic.

Other
– Echo Palace sounds amazing! I want to live in a place that cleans itself and makes whatever food or clothing I want.

See what everyone else had to say:
Books Without Any Pictures
Dab of Darkness
Book Bound

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3 thoughts on “The Kingdom of Gods read-along: END

  1. I had the impression that Deka and Sieh had been asleep or in Oblivion until Shahar died and the three could be together. But I would have to reread that little section again…..If Deka and Sieh had 50 years together without Shahar, then, yeah, they probably have a stronger bond right now, than they do with Shahar.

    Good point about Kahl. We had that one intense scene with him at the beginning, before we knew who and what he was, but after that, he is simply the insane antagonist who plans to take over the world and must be stopped. When he died, my feelings were for Sieh, not for Kahl.

    I had the impression that this was Glee’s first time turning into a ball of flame and carrying her father’s sword (just an impression with nothing to back it up). So when she fell so shortly after engaging Kahl I was not surprised as she was using new skills and burning them hot, using that energy up quickly.

    I see your point about Itempas and the Love clause. I thought that since he had learned to love more than 1 person in different ways, that he had finally grasped a deeper understanding of love. With Oree, he learned (a little) how not to be selfish. Then with Glee he learned to love a child, and have that love reciprocated. Then he literally puts his life in Nahadoth’s hands when he offers up that kiss. Itempas would have let Nahadoth kill him, and it was great that Nahadoth accepted the gesture even if he didn’t reciprocate. Then, with Sieh’s death, Itempas experiences the great pain of losing someone he loved (and couldn’t prevent his death – even helped him to it in a way) and he stayed sane and didn’t destroy part or all of creation. Perhaps this could be seen more as character development but I felt Itempas learned a lot about love’s many faces over the course of 3 books.

    I too enjoyed the layered mythology. In Book 1 we hear one version of the Gods’ War and from there more and more pieces of it are revealed, making it not so black and white.

    http://dabofdarkness.com/2014/03/10/the-kingdom-of-gods-read-along-part-v/

    • I had the same impression, that Deka and Sieh were dead until Shahar died too and then they all became gods together.

      I saw the way that Sieh treated Shahar as paralleling how he felt about Itempas. Shahar opened his heart to forgiveness, and then he used that lesson to try to come to terms with Itempas’ deeper betrayal.

      The fact that Glee failed to defeat Kahl seemed to me to signal just how strong he had become. I mean, we saw Glee’s mom kill a god-eating monster and make it look effortless, and Oree wasn’t Itempas’ daughter.

  2. I felt quite bad for Shahar during the Deka/Sieh sex scene, too. The characters acted as though the scene was all about love, but I think there was a fair amount of spite involved, too. I was angry at Shahar when she betrayed Sieh, but even taking that into account, I agree that they treated her really poorly.

    I think the fact that everyone mostly ignored Kahl for the longest time was down to Enefa’s work. She made them all forget Kahl (I think even Nahadoth and Itempas). Enefa’s lingering voice tended to distract Sieh away from thinking about Kahl whenever his thoughts tended that way, so I think something similar might have been happening to the others, too. Of course, Yeine and Ahad, at least, should probably have taken the threat more seriously from the beginning.

    As for the welcoming back of Itempas, my copy of the novel had a neat short story afterward that kind of clarified the situation, from inside the circle of the Three. While I think Itempas had learned a lot about love (a love which doesn’t stop you from subjecting your loved ones to thousands of years of slavery, rape, and torture is not really a very good love), I think that was more just a clause designed to let them bring Itempas back without seeming quite as fickle as they really are.

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