01/07/2012. Contributed by Vinca Russell
pub: Orbit. 396 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-818-8) .
check out websites: www.orbitbooks.net and www.nkjemisin.com
N.K. Jemisin's second instalment of 'The Inheritance Trilogy', 'The Broken Kingdoms', is set ten years after the conclusion of 'The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' and follows a young blind woman named Oree as she becomes tangled up in the affairs of a dangerous cult. Godlings have always been involved in Oree's life, as she can see their magic despite being otherwise blind. Lately, however, the godlings have been dying and disappearing and Oree's strange houseguest, Shiny, hasn't been entirely forthcoming about who he really is. When Oree discovers the magic in her paintings and comes to the attention of the New Lights, she starts to unravel the mysteries surrounding the godlings' deaths but it might already be too late. The Nightlord, Nahadoth, has set a deadline to find the killers of his children and he's getting impatient...
Oree is a delightful narrator to have and the fact that she is blind helps the descriptiveness of the story as the reader is brought into a world not only of sights but also smells, textures and sounds that otherwise might have been missed. It really helps to bring the world to life. As Oree can see magic and magical things, we don't miss out on the visuals neither and, after reading some of the paragraphs describing the magic she sees, I was left with very vivid images in my mind. Oree is quite down to earth, except where her romance with the godling Madding is concerned and remains strong, never becoming pitiable or whiny even when everything seems to be going against her.
'The Broken Kingdoms' has a few of the characters from 'The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' but they're all cameos rather than starring roles. This means that we are introduced to a whole range of new people and godlings and there's more time spent on their various abilities, forms and powers. Some of this is delightfully creepy, particularly the slightly psychotic Lil and her magical form, which was good as I felt that this darkness was something lacking from the first book. Some of it is more mundane, such as revealing the practicalities of being a godling in a city with hundreds of other godlings. There is also a nice exploration of how godlings and humans interact, be it through romantic entanglements (there is a bit of a love story going on through this), trades or the collection of debts and offering of favours.
N.K. Jemisin made a smart move when choosing to make this trilogy a series of loosely connected tales as the second story both builds on the first and yet is also a self-contained tale that allows her to more fully explore the fantasy world she has created. Time has moved on by ten years and the reader can really see the changes that the events of book one, 'The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms', have caused in the world. We learn more about other Kingdoms away from Sky and get more of an insight into how the lower classes live in this world. It also shows off the improvements in Jemisin's writing style. The world and characters all feel more fully realised and there is a confidence behind the story that wasn't quite present with book one.
To summarise, I thought this was a great read containing plenty of action without losing the characterisation and emotional side of things that are needed to round out any good story. It's an improvement over book one and leaves me excited to see what's coming in the final book in 'The Inheritance Trilogy'.
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