Tuesday, January 10, 2012

REVIEW: The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin


The Kingdom of Gods is the final novel in the Inheritance trilogy, one I was anticipating greatly after reading and loving The Broken Kingdoms (and to a lesser extent, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms). In short, this is a strange and unconventional book/story, which does give it a certain originality and freshness, but is also slightly dissatisfying in the way it forgoes some of even the most basic writing principles.

My biggest problem with The Kingdom of Gods was that there never seemed to be one definite point to the story; something the narrative and characters were working towards. Instead, there were several that Jemisin flits in between constantly, leaving the reader confused and most of the story underdeveloped and a little pointless. It seemed like in an effort to make the book longer she halfheartedly added in a few more characters and twists, but then decided part way thought to make one of these irrelevant twists the actual point and conclusion of the book.

There was a complete and utter lack of foreshadowing which gave me the impression that Jemisin was actually making it up as she went along. Random events and characters and even major plot developments would simply occur out of nowhere with no kind of pretext. I remember writing this about The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms; just because it's fantasy doesn't mean you can make shit up. Some of Jemisin's intrinsic reasoning was so flimsy and flawed that I really questioned how well she had planned the book because it made the story utterly transparent.

While the history of Jemisin's world and its gods is quite interesting and has been thoroughly explored by this book, the logic is still very flawed. The three Gods (Nahadoth, Yeine and to a lesser extent Itempas) are admittedly omnipotent and during their designated time of day, omniscient. This begs the question then, how does anything escape or oppose them? In some cases Jemisin presents a half-hearted excuse, but in others the fact is blatantly ignored. In one chapter it is clear that Nahadoth hears whatever Sieh says at loud, and potentially whatever he thinks, and then not very much later, Sieh brings up something which he is somehow keeping a secret from Nahadoth. Me no comprehende. In fact, none of the events which lead to the end of the book should have been able to happen.

There were several antagonists in this book, one in particular who brings about events which (I think) becomes the main point and climax of the story, but all of whom we know absolutely nothing about. It got a bit ridiculous. Jemisin invents characters, literally out of nowhere, and then fails to give them any kind of character development or role other than to appear when needed and give the story a little (or gigantic) push. Kahl and Usein were the biggest offenders.

While Jemisin's writing is easy to read (most of the time) and her stories are a breath of fresh air, I was incredibly disappointed and let down with this book. As per my review of The Broken Kingdoms, I felt that she had remedied the flaws from The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but it seems they have just come back ten fold in this last book. I don't see how she could go from book two which had a definite, clear objective and a cast of impressive characters to this. The fact that it was the final book in the trilogy was also a disappointment; nothing was revealed or resolved at all - in fact only new and irrelevant things were added. The one resolution that has been building across the three books was instead left completely by the wayside - an absolute crime!

In my opinion readers should not even bother with it and just pretend the series ends with book two.

On a side note, there was one line which I thought was quite entertaining and made me laugh out loud; 
"I suspect that if Wrath got through this day with his position intact, he would soon put his soldiers through a heavy training course on Gods, the Quick Recognition and Not Attacking Of."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. I've been toying with the idea of picking up the Inheritance trilogy, but I'll likely give it a miss. Sounds a bit too haphazard for me.