Book: “The Kingdom of Gods” by N.K. Jemisin
Publishing Info: Orbit, October 2011
Where Did I Get this Book: audiobook from the library!
Book Description: For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameris’ ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.
Review: So, I didn’t let the time between books go nearly as long between this one and “The Broken Kingdoms,” a win! I also managed to get my hands on the audiobook, as I’ve really been enjoying the narration for this series. But I have to say, sadly, this was by far my least enjoyable book in the series.
The book description for this book is so, so poor! Not only does that description barely give any hint as to what’s actually going on in this book, but it doesn’t even tell you who the main character is. Turns out, the main character is Sieh. After seeing himself and the other gods freed and a new god joining their ranks, Sieh has found himself restless of late, unsure where he fits in this new world. Like him, the world itself is still stumbling, and the powerful Arameri family have found themselves in a tough spot. But perhaps, together, Sieh and an unexpected pair of siblings can, once again, change the world.
I was so sad to find myself not enjoying this book! It was almost like the world and characters got away from Jemisin, something that I didn’t think I’d ever say. I think the first mistake was centering the book around Sieh, the child-like god of fun and tricks. This is the kind of character who serves as an excellent side character, dishing out laughs and the necessary unexpected twists that keeps a reader on their toes. But when you make him the main character, these same traits make him a difficult character to root for. His capriciousness and childlike brattiness were less endearing and more frustrating when he’s the head I was in through most of the book. And while the book is seemingly about Sieh growing older, he tended to just grow into teenage angst, a phase I find equally annoying to read as that of the bratty child.
I also felt like the structure of the story suffered. There were time jumps all over the place which, again, left me feeling unstable and unable to fully immerse myself in the world and story. The pacing just felt jolting and like Jemisin wasn’t exactly clear on what her story was actually going to be. Instead, it felt like she had a lot of ideas for progressing the world and the magic system, an end goal that she wanted to land on to finalize the series. But there wasn’t an effective story to get her there, and so we were left with this messy little thing.
I was also disconnected with the romance, an unconventional love triangle. The other characters involved were interesting enough, but the entire thing made me feel uncomfortable at times, and I just was never invested in it in the same way I was with the romances in the first two books.
Jemisin’s writing and way with words were as strong as ever, and I think the endpoint she had in mind for this trilogy was great. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like she had a story to get her there. Fans of this series might want to check it out just to finish it all up, but for casual fans, I’d say stick to the first two and leave it at that.
Rating 6: A big come-down from the first two books; some characters should just stay side-characters, I think.
“The Kingdoms of Gods” is on these Goodreads lists: Fantasy That Isn’t Fantastic Straight White Men Doing Epic Things… and Best Fantasy God Type books.