N.K. Jemisin – The Kingdom of Gods

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 Arameri’s ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and unending war.

Shahar, last scion of the Arameri family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as heir is to uphold the family’s interests, even if that means destroying everyone she cares for.

As terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom – which even gods fear – is summoned forth. Can Shahar and Sieh, mortal and god, stand together against the chaos threatening the kingdom of gods?

WOW was my primary reaction to this concluding volume of the Inheritance trilogy. The Kingdom of Gods is an amazing story once again. As I said in my review of The Broken Kingdoms, Ms Jemisin has a distinct voice in oodles and spades and this is reaffirmed by The Kingdom of Gods. But what is even more striking is that while she has a distinct voice, each of the three books has a distinct voice as well. Sieh sounds as I expected Sieh would, based on the prior books. The distinction between the three books is emphasised by my reading the last two, The Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods, so close together. The books are a cohesive whole, when taken as a trilogy, while at the same time they’re all strong standalone narratives. It’s a rare series that achieves that.

I loved Sieh’s story. Set decades after the events in The Broken Kingdoms, society has changed even more. Life has become more secular and nations chafe under Arameri rein. The large narrative scale is world changing, with client states rebelling and religion changing and becoming less dominant, but small scale the book a story about trust. Sieh learning to trust the Arameri twins Shahar and Dekarta and the twins trusting him, Sieh needing to trust his fellow godlings and his parents, and of course Yeine and Nahadoth trusting Itempas. I love that trust is shown as sometimes implicit, sometimes needing to be earned, as something that can be broken and lost, but also regained. Sieh’s journey in this regard was the most central and maybe the most far-reaching of the novel. Sieh’s development throughout the novel was fantastic, but it is hard to detail why it is so without giving spoilers. Shahar goes through a similar magnitude of growth. She struggles to break the Arameri mould, to not be a tyrant, to do what is right. And she largely succeeds, barring some mistakes along the way. I loved the relationship between Sieh and Shahar; it’s so deliciously complicated and conflicting and doesn’t go where you’d expect it to. Dekarta actually ends up taking a smaller role over much of the novel than I expected, though his re-emergence into the narrative and his eventual role in events was brilliant. One character that really touched me, surprisingly, was Remath, who tries so hard to protect and save her children and struggles not to show her love, to be a true Arameri. To me she was a tragic figure, so proud and strong and the opposite yet so like her daughter.

The political turmoil affecting the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is handled amazingly as well, shown by the maskers’ magic and the different countries we see through Sieh’s eyes, especially Darre and the Teman people. There is a lot of hatred, mistrust and old grudges against the Arameri and these – emphasised by Sieh’s recollections of what the Arameri made him do when they had him enslaved – make liking the Arameri difficult. At the same time it is hard not to like Shahar and Deka, as they’re compelling, and more importantly very human, characters. However great the turmoil though, in the end mortalkind draws together when facing an even bigger threat of total annihilation and I really liked the eventual solution to the ‘Arameri problem’, which was both elegant and very well done.

Sieh is a trickster and when he opens with “There will be no tricks in this tale.” the reader shouldn’t believe him. Nothing is as it seems and the ending is superb. The Kingdom of Gods is a worthy conclusion to one of the best trilogies I’ve had the pleasure of reading in recent years. If you’ve not tried any of Ms Jemisin’s work before, you really should. Start with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, or if you don’t want to take the full-length leap and would rather dip your toe into something short form, why not check out some of her short fiction listed on her blog. Both L’Alchemista and The Narcomancer are good places to start. For myself, I can’t wait until her next series, the Dreamblood duology, is released, starting with The Killing Moon in May!