Monday, February 10, 2014

Read-Along: The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin, Part 1

Today kicks off the read-along of the last novel of the Inheritance Trilogy, The Kingdom of Gods, by N.K. Jemisin.  Not only is this the last of the trilogy, I believe it is the last novel by Jemisin that I have not yet read.  I hope she comes out with something new soon!  Dab of Darkness is our question-writer this week, so please check out her answers!  This week's questions cover through chapter 4, so I must warn you that there will be spoilers through chapter 4 of The Kingdom of Gods below, and there will likely be indirect spoilers of the previous two novels.

I'm already pretty taken with this book, just from the first few chapters.  The narrator is the godling Sieh, which is a completely different perspective than either Yeine or Oree.  I love his deliberate childishness and capriciousness.

1) Do you think the twins' names Dekarta and Shahar are portentous of who they will grow into? 
I think that it might show more of what their parents hoped they would become.  Shahar seems very different than what I remember from the description of Itempas’s Shahar.  So far, her defining trait is that her bad family has not been able to extinguish her kindness (which is why she’s an unift heir).  
2) Yeine and Itempas. Too early? Or will Yeine be the bridge that puts everyone back together? 

Oh yes, too early.  I think Yeine is a little more willing to forgive, because she has not exactly been Itempas’s victim.  She has Enefa’s soul inside her, but she isn’t Enefa.  Itempas neither murdered nor enslaved her, so it’s easier for her to be moved by his penance. 

I don’t think he deserves to be forgiven yet, though, so I can totally understand Nahadoth and Sieh’s inability to forgive and forget.  As Nahadoth said, his eventual forgiveness may be inevitable, but it will certainly not be immediate.

3) Sieh seems to have some need, or at least an attraction, to be in Sky Palace. Healthy or unhealthy? 

I don’t know if I would call it healthy or unhealthy.  He’s obviously been through a lot of trauma, so part of the attraction might be trying to prove to himself that Sky isn’t dangerous to him anymore.  There are also things in Sky that he might not want to leave behind—the empty spaces where he played, and his orrery, for instance. 

Lastly, the way he approached playing with Shahar and Dekarta, I wondered if this was a thing he did often.  If he’s been making a habit of playing with Arameri children, and then killing them when they grow up and ‘go bad’, it almost seems like he’s trying to prove something.  Maybe he wants proof as to whether the Arameri are beyond saving or not.

4) In just this beginning section, we see more than just physical changes in Sieh. What do you think is happening to him, and more importantly why?
His turning into an adolescent is a little scary, considering he’s the godling of childhood. I’m guessing you’re also talking about the resonance with the Maelstrom.  My speculation is that it is possible for a godling to become a god, it just has never happened before.  I think this is what’s happening to Sieh, based on the fact that he is the strongest godling, and on his frustration at not being enough to comfort the Three. I think it is happening now because Itempas (who resists change) is out of power.  The influence of a powerful Nahadoth with no Itempas as a balance might be making this kind of transformation possible.  If this is some kind of transformation, I hope Sieh survives it!  
5) Shahar is quite angry with her mother and has been for some time. Justified? How do you think their relationship will shape this story? 
Yes, I think it is justified.  I think her mother is a ‘true Arameri’ and that she doesn’t really care about her daughter at all.  I mean, look at the way she gave her daughter to Sieh as a toy!  I think that the core of their relationship will be her mother trying to make Shahar become her, and Shahar trying to remain herself.
6) Why do you think Shahar's letters to her brother return unopened?

Right now, my best guess is one of two things.  Maybe her brother blames her for him being used as the scapegoat after that day with Sieh.  He might feel that she betrayed him by not protecting him.  Alternatively, maybe Shahar’s mother insisted he never contact her again, as a part of her plan of isolating and then hardening up her daughter.

Other Things:

--How cute was En, the petulant sun!

--I had always thought of Nahadoth as male, but it makes sense that he would have no fixed gender.  It was interesting to see him turn female to suit Sieh’s needs for a motherly comforter.

--Sieh plays some dangerous games!  I have to say I've never read a scene about children playing that was quite so tense. 


  1. I just wrote this great long comment and it got lost in the ether....sigh...

    Sieh needs a shirt that says 'Does not play well with other!'

    Yeine is a great bridge because she doesn't have a previous intense negative relationship with Itempas. But I do wonder how it will pan out with Nahadoth.

    I had not thought of Sieh possibly changing from godling to god. But that may very well explain his resonance with the maelstrom.

    1. I'm sorry, did my blog eat it ? :(

      He definitely needs that shirt, though he seems so determined to play with others that I don't know if it would be enough to warn people away!

  2. 5. Arameri mothers are terrifying! What also struck was the way she calmly said would not want Sieh to kill Shahar because heirs are such a big investment. It's like she cares about her only as a commodity. Makes the old Dekarta look warm and fuzzy.

    Sieh's games really bring out the creepy side of childhood...

    1. I think it was that line exactly that made me completely lose all sympathy for her mother.

  3. My suspicion is that the Arameri can't be all bad anymore, because it just won't work. They'll lose their power if they do. During the time that they had the Enefadeh as weapons, they could be as corrupt and power-hungry as they wanted, no matter who they had to screw over to get there. Now the playing field has been leveled, and they're going to have to learn the same rules of diplomacy and alliance that every other nation has, otherwise all of the nations that were once subordinate to the Arameri might just gang up on them and take their revenge. Perhaps the Arameri changing their natures will parallel Sieh growing up.

    1. That's true. I think they still have more magic (scriveners) on their side, but nothing like the power they had with the Enefadeh leashed. Sieh seems to believe that they have not changed in the generations since, but maybe Shahar is closer to the current norm?