Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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A Hundred Thousand Things to Do

Yesterday, my short play, Origin Stories, was read for an audience for the very first time at Borderlands Cafe as part of a preview reading for The Pub from Another World, the night of theater I've been working on for the last five months.

It's been hard work! Look, I did a whole interview about it!

But back to me and my play. Um, people really liked it? Like, they laughed a lot (one of my bits of local humor got the biggest laugh of all, as I'd hoped). And people kept saying it was their favorite out of the four, that it was witty and it had snappy dialogue and it was deep and layered and...I wrote it a couple years ago for Pint-Sized and it was rejected and I never thought anything would happen with it but I've been wanting to see it live for so long and now it's alive and I'm proud of it and people like it and stuff.

If you want to see it, come to Theater Pub on May 20! It's going to be awesome!

After loving The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun, I was really excited to read N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy.

Unlike the Dreamblood books, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms has a single first-person narrator: Yeine Darr, a nineteen-year-old girl whose mother has recently died under mysterious circumstances. She is taken to Sky, a palace perched high above the capital of the titular Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. And there she discovers that she is a potential heir to become ruler of the world. One of three.

In the second fucking chapter, someone tries to kill her.

Initially, the book appears to be about the game of thrones, concerned with political intrigue and assassination and plotting and betrayal. And, on the surface, it is, but it is so, so much more than that. Because a long time ago, there was a Gods' War, and the gods lost. Now they are the servants of man. Once Yeine meets the gods, the book gets way more interesting, as she attempts to befriend a trickster god and understand the complicated life of the Nightlord.

But that's not all! On top of all that, Yeine begins digging into her mother's past and her own heritage—everyone in Sky is of the Arameri family, like her mother—and must reevaluate what she thought she knew about her mother and her own history.

What's brilliant is that all three of these stories are intertwined and connected and inform each other in unexpected ways. You may not understand how at first, and that's okay, because Yeine is still piecing it together herself: she tells the story from an unspecified point in the future and frequently comments on an observation made in hindsight or adds in information she "forgot" to provide before. I love being told a story, so I really dug the style of the narration. And the fact that Yeine seems to be processing her own story as we read it highlights the theme of her coming into her own identity.

I'm amazed at N.K. Jemisin's versatility as a writer because her prose style here is quite different from that in Dreamblood. Because the narrator is a nineteen-year-old girl, she doesn't use lush, evocative descriptions, but because the narrator is a nineteen-year-old girl, there's a lot more character in the writing. And, appropriately enough, whenever she is speaking of godly matters, the writing becomes much more full of imagery and metaphors because that is the only comprehend those beings. The gods in this book are fascinating characters, clearly divine but still recognizably human in their personalities and emotions.

As you know, I do gauge books by their ability to evoke audible reactions, and, sure, there were plenty of profane outbursts. And I did almost throw the book at the wall in frustration (STOP TEASING ME ABOUT THE FUTURE YEINE). But I believe this may be the first time I have read a book where I almost threw the book up in the air in shock. No one is prepared for how this book ends.

With The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin begins an engrossing story of the complex relationships between gods and men.

It is hard to talk about the rest of the trilogy without spoiling the first book. The Broken Kingdoms (full Goodreads review) has perhaps my favorite narrator, Oree, a blind artist who can see magic. Jemisin excels at plot twists and surprises that knock you on your ass, even when you should have seen some of them coming. And she has a knack for powerful, emotional climaxes, even though they all do tend to be kind of the same thing. She gets you to care about not only the fates of her characters but also their growth and what their choices mean for who they are. The Kingdom of Gods (full Goodreads review) has an unexpected narrator whose identity I wouldn't want to spoil. Jemisin has a real knack for writing about magic and the divine in a way that suggests the awesome power of what's going on without sounding cheesy. I didn't love this book like I loved the first two, but I did love that this book really built on a lot of themes and ideas that I didn't really notice were part of the trilogy all along. The Inheritance Trilogy is about fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, love, sex, friendship, gender, power, theology, and cosmology, among other things.
Tags: books, i am so awesome, personal, pimpings, theatre
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