01/08/2012. Contributed by Vinca Russell
pub: Orbit. 582 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-819-5.
check out websites: www.orbitbooks.net and www.nkjemisin.com
When Sieh, godling of mischief and childhood, makes friends with Deka and Shahar, two Arameri children, something odd happens. In the blink of an eye, eight years have passed and when Sieh awakes, he finds his immortality gone and is suddenly faced with the short and painful life of a mortal. None of the gods or godlings can explain what has happened and as a shift in the balance of magic occurs, it quickly becomes apparent that more than just Sieh's fate hangs in the balance. Someone has summoned the Maelstrom, an entity of such great power that the whole of existence faces extinction unless someone can stop it.
'The Kingdom Of Gods'is the third and final instalment in 'The Inheritance Trilogy' by N.K. Jemisin. It is set a number of decades after the second book and focuses primarily on Sieh and his relationship with two Arameri, the twins Shahar, heir to the Arameri throne, and Dekarta (Deka), studying to be a scrivener, which as far as I can tell is a special sort of priest with control of magical abilities. Deka and Shahar both have a special relationship with Sieh, partly through the bond they made when they were children and also because they both truly love him. The relationship is explored as it grows through childhood and into the beginnings of adulthood but, although it is central to the book, I actually found it a bit unconvincing.
This is probably my least favourite book in the trilogy. I think the plot isn't as strong as in the previous books and in places the narrative gets a bit waffly. However, that's not to say it doesn't have its strong points, because there are several really good bits, too.
It is interesting to see what became of Ahad, the mortal side of Nahadoth, one of the three elder gods. Ahad spent a long time being half a person or half a god and it is good to go back and see how he has developed. We also see the return of demons, the offspring of gods and mortals and learn a lot more about them, their abilities and powers.
There is a measure of the political intrigue that was key to the first book, 'The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms', with a good side plot involving the nature of power and the struggles for control between the Arameri and other kingdoms. Power is one of the key themes throughout the story, whether it is the powers of the gods, the power of mortals within their kingdoms or the power of individuals to effect change.
The nature of gods and godlings is also developed even further as we are introduced to the power of their antithesis. Basically, the gods and godlings are weakened if they are forced to endure things or behave in ways that contradict their fundamental nature. I suppose there are one or two moments when the 'be true to yourself' message verges on preachy but it only crossed that line once or twice.
After the main story is concluded, there is also an extra short story called 'Not the End' to enjoy and this fills in some of the gaps that were left at the end of book 2, 'The Broken Kingdoms', re-visiting Oree Shoth. I'm glad Jemisin took the opportunity to include this as I like to see loose ends tied up.
N.K. Jemisin has created a really good fantasy world with 'The Inheritance Trilogy' and I've enjoyed seeing how she has further developed ideas throughout the series. The mythology is wonderful, the culture and politics are well thought out and the characters are all individual and absorbing. Although this is the end of a series, there is plenty of scope for a return to the world of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for other stories and I hope that perhaps one day Jemisin will take advantage of this.
Overall, 'The Kingdom Of Gods' was an enjoyable read and, although not the strongest book in the series, brought the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion.
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