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Thoughts on The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

April 21, 2011

In order to stretch ourselves, my online book club decided to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin.  Since it’s considered high fantasy, it’s way out of my comfort zone, but I hoped reading it and discussing it with others would help me appreciate the genre more.

The publisher describes the book this way:

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

I have to admit to being confused while I read the book.  I had trouble keeping track of the characters and what was going on.  As I finished the book, I discovered three appendices in the back, that probably would have helped if I’d seen them before I read the book – A Glossary of Terms, A Clarification of Terms and Historical Record.  Reading them at the end didn’t clear up my confusion.

I looked forward to my book club’s discussion and hoped someone would be able to explain things to me, but everyone who finished the book seemed to feel the same way I did.  This is the first book in a trilogy and none of us plan to read the rest of the books.  I did a little research and discovered that the reviews for this book are mixed – true fantasy lovers seem to adore it and everyone else feels the way my book club did.  Since I don’t know enough about the genre, I feel I really can’t comment on the quality of the book.   The one member of my book club who is a fantasy reader wasn’t able to attend the meeting, but she loved the book – check out her review.   If you enjoy fantasy and have read this book, I’d love to know what you thought of it.

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2011 7:46 am

    I admit that I’m not sorry I never did get around to reading this one.

  2. April 21, 2011 7:52 am

    I give you a lot of credit for finishing the book when you found it so confusing. At least you had the absent club member’s blog review.

  3. April 21, 2011 7:53 am

    Thank you for linking to my review, Kathy – I’m so sorry I missed the meeting! I don’t know if I could have helped but I would have tried. I guess it isn’t a book for newbies to the genre.

  4. April 21, 2011 8:34 am

    I always find those appendices after I have finished the book and they are unhelpful too, so you are not the only one. I have only read one high fantasy book, and that was at the urging of my husband, bur I am not sure the genre is for me. There is just so much going on in these types of books, and if the world building is not fantastic, then I just sort of lose interest.

  5. April 21, 2011 8:38 am

    I have trouble with fantasy too. It’s hard enough to keep track of everything in actual novels, but when they change the world around, it’s very confusing!

  6. April 21, 2011 8:57 am

    Good for you for giving it a try. I’m not much of a fantasy reader, so I’ll steer clear of this book.

  7. April 21, 2011 9:07 am

    I’m not one for high fantasy either, but points for giving it a try!

  8. April 21, 2011 9:13 am

    UGH! I couldn’t even get into it at all and gave up. You are a much better woman (and book club member) than I am.

  9. April 21, 2011 9:24 am

    This one was just too complicated for me. I don’t think high fantasy is our genre!

  10. April 21, 2011 9:56 am

    I am often confused when it comes to fantasy novels. Also, I feel too lazy to check appendices again and again 😀

  11. April 21, 2011 10:13 am

    The only fantasy I’ve ever liked was the Tolkien series about the Hobbits. I read that only because a very good friend and benefactor at a tough time in my life insisted that I would LOVE it. I honestly did get caught up in it but can’t remember much now and have no desire whatsoever to read any more of any type of fantasy novel.

  12. April 21, 2011 10:16 am

    You know, The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book ever, and of all time. But I read it when I was eleven, and then read all the other “high” fantasy I could before the age of twenty. This is the right time to do it. I think people in their twenties and even thirties can still enjoy fantasy, but at some point you just get too old for it. I’ll have to think about why this is.

  13. April 21, 2011 11:29 am

    It’s a shame this one was so tough for you. I haven’t read it, but I do enjoy fantasy, even “high fantasy.” I hope I never get too old for it. I do think some fantasy novels are harder to follow than others.

  14. April 21, 2011 11:52 am

    Leviathan took me out of my comfort zone but it had other elements that I usually enjoy in a book, like a historical setting and a YA audience. I can tolerate some fantasy but if it’s too complicated and difficult to follow my reading pleasure will diminish. Kudos to you for sticking with it!

  15. April 21, 2011 11:57 am

    Too bad the book didn’t work for you though I’m glad to hear you gave it a try.

  16. April 21, 2011 1:11 pm

    Interesting with the mixed reviews. Sounds like the hard-core fantasy lovers really like it. It’s all a matter of taste. 🙂

  17. April 21, 2011 1:17 pm

    I don’t read much high fantasy either, and it’s probably precisely because of the sheer number of characters (who all seem to possess odd, hard-to-pronounce names). Well, you gave this one a try!

  18. April 21, 2011 1:33 pm

    Sorry this one was so confusing. I like fantasy, although don’t read too much of it, but find that I’m often confused at first too. I think it’s because of all the different names and locations, etc.

  19. April 21, 2011 1:34 pm

    Wow, good for you going outside of your comfort zone and with something as different as High Fantasy. It’s not an easy genre to just pick up. And you stuck with it, I don’t know if I would have had the staying power. I hope you and your book club have a lively discussion.

  20. April 21, 2011 1:34 pm

    I have an on-line book club with some of my far away friends. I took “hot picks” list from the BEA (I hope that is correct) convention last year, as our reading list. This one is coming up soon. But we are also terrible behind ……so we might put it off for awhile. I do like ‘some’ Science Fiction…but some is as you said: terribley confusing.

  21. April 21, 2011 1:47 pm

    You all get credit for trying, but I would ditto Candace. I am actually relieved I didn’t try to pick this one up. I hate giving up on book club reads, and I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have gotten it. Life is too short for stuff like that.

  22. April 21, 2011 2:13 pm

    Ugh .. many times I read a book and get confused terribly and only after turning the last page, do I discover the appendix! That section and possibly a map are a must in epic fantasies!

  23. April 21, 2011 2:30 pm

    I didn’t know “high fantasy” was a genre (I thought it was just, well, “fantasy.”).

    You’re a better woman than me, too. When I knew I couldn’t make the meeting, I didn’t try to get through the book. “A” for Effort, Kathy!

  24. April 21, 2011 3:54 pm

    Fantasy is tough and go either way sometimes. Sorry this wasn’t for you, but hey, you tried it 🙂 Better luck next time.

  25. April 21, 2011 4:24 pm

    I guess then I might like it, since I love fantasy 😀

  26. April 21, 2011 4:27 pm

    I always think that if a book needs that much help, appendices and such, to keep it all straight. , maybe the book just needed more work.

  27. April 21, 2011 6:53 pm

    Good for you, Kathy, for giving it a try. Now you can check that category off your list.

  28. April 21, 2011 8:35 pm

    This one would be out of my normal reading comfort zone too so I probably wouldn’t read it unless like you, my book club picked it.

  29. April 21, 2011 8:36 pm

    I don’t even know what high fantasy means!!!

  30. April 21, 2011 9:58 pm

    This is one of those fantasy books I plan on reading, just not sure when. I love the genre, so I think this book will work for me, Ijust seem to be on a mystery kick right now. Maybe next year I’ll be in fantasy mode, who knows.

  31. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 21, 2011 10:17 pm

    I had to click on high fantasy to see the definition! I enjoy some fanatasy, but this one seems way out there!

  32. April 21, 2011 11:38 pm

    Good for you for finishing, I think I’d have given up. Not my genre either.

  33. April 22, 2011 10:10 am

    I’m not much of a fantasy reader either although some is good. Too bad this one wasn’t a better read for you since it was out of your comfort zone in the first place.

  34. April 22, 2011 10:24 am

    Looking at this, I have the same feeling when I was reading TLOTR..

  35. April 22, 2011 4:31 pm

    I struggle with a lot of fantasy fiction as well, for exactly the reason you outline here, there are just too many characters to keep track of. I like things a bit more simple. Sorry that this one didn’t work for you but it’s always good to step outside of our comfort zones to affirm what does.

  36. April 22, 2011 8:15 pm

    High fantasy isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to venture into unknown territory, at least book-wise. I don’t know if I would read the book in its entirety if I had found the book as confusing as you did. Kudos to you!

  37. April 22, 2011 11:40 pm

    I love fantasy but the author has to be careful to ensure that “epic” isn’t just confusing.

  38. April 23, 2011 1:06 pm

    It’s seems a bit too convoluted to me… hmmm…. maybe not really my type of read.

    Kudos to you for being able to complete it.

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