The giveaway for Bone Crossed is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is:

Eva from Finland

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy reading it.

As usual, I’m indecisive so help me decide what to read next by voting on the poll to the right. I’ll read whichever book wins when I’m done with The Gaslight Dogs and leave the poll up until I’m finished with it. And I just might run another poll when I need to choose one of the books I bought to read after that because I’m really torn about whether to read the new Carol Berg, the new Robin Hobb, the next Snow Queen book or Night’s Master or a lot of other books…

For this one, I picked some of the ones that seemed to get the most interest from the comments and threw in a couple of others. This time the choices are:

Changeless by Gail Carriger
The Folding Knife by K. J. Parker
The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke
Master of None by Sonya Bateman
The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin
Servant of a Dark God by John Brown

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
by N.K. Jemisin
432pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 9/10
Amazon Rating: 5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.14/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.42/5
 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a debut novel by N. K. Jemisin, who was recently nominated for the Nebula Award for her short story “Non-Zero Probabilities.” Even though it’s the first book in The Inheritance Trilogy, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a complete story with a satisfying conclusion. The next two books in the series each focus on a different main character than the first one. According to Jemisin’s website, the second book The Broken Kingdoms will be released in fall 2010.

Soon after the mysterious death of her mother, Yeine Darr is summoned to the Arameri court by its ruler, her grandfather. When Yeine’s mother met her father, a minor barbarian noble, she abdicated her position as heir to the Arameri throne. The Arameri have ruled the world for a very long time due to their favor with the Skylord, one of the three major gods. The Skylord killed one of the other gods and gave the Nightlord along with his sons and daughters to the Arameri as their own personal weapons. These gods are slaves to the Arameri, bound in flesh and made to obey their every whim.

Yeine goes to the Arameri home of Sky and meets with her grandfather, who informs her that he is making her his heir while keeping her cousins as his other two heirs. She will now be a true Arameri – and will quite possibly be killed by one of her cousins in an attempt for the throne while trying to unravel the truth about the past.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is one of those books that appeals to me on so many levels and I loved it. It did have a couple of cheesy sex scenes, but other than that, I have no complaints and was completely engaged in this novel from beginning to end.

The story is told from the first person perspective of Yeine. Her narrative is very scattered and feels as though she really is telling the story to the reader as she interrupts herself often to insert information or go back and fill in parts she just remembered. For instance, when she goes to meet her grandfather for the first time, she then stops to expound on the history of the gods and how it relates to the Arameri people:

 

I knelt before my grandfather with my head bowed, hearing titters of laughter.

No, wait.

* * *

There were three gods once.

Only three, I mean. Now there are dozens, perhaps hundreds. They breed like rabbits. But once there were only three, most powerful and glorious of all: the god of day, the god of night, and the goddess of twilight and dawn. Of light and darkness and the shades between. Or order, chaos, and balance. None of that is important because one of them died, the other might as well have, and the last is the only one who matters anymore.

The Arameri get their power from this remaining god. He is called the Skyfather, Bright Itempas, and the ancestors of the Arameri were His most devoted priests. He rewarded them by giving them a weapon so mighty that no army could stand against it. They used this weapon – weapons, really – to make themselves rulers of the world.

That’s better. Now.

* * *

I knelt before my grandfather with my head bowed and my knife laid on the floor. (pp. 6)

Some may find this style a bit chaotic, but personally, I really liked it. Yeine herself is far from an omniscient narrator since she spends much of the novel trying to discover the truth about her mother and the gods (since the only accepted account allowed by the winning god may be a bit biased). Throughout the tale, more and more about the world and the characters and how everything weaves together is slowly revealed.

The world mythology was well-developed and added a lot to the novel. The gods were somewhat reminiscent of the Greek gods since they shared so many human traits and complexities. In spite of the fact that they were very powerful and different from the humans, they were also capable of jealousy, greed and love.

Most of the characters were well-written with diverse motivations. Of course, Yeine was a favorite as the point of view character and the easiest to sympathize with. She went from being leader of a relatively small nation to contending for the title of world ruler, plus she has the disadvantage of not knowing the Arameri ways like her two cousins. After Yeine, my favorite character was Sieh, the trickster god who usually appeared as a child (happily, he is the subject of the third book). At once ancient and childlike, Sieh had an interesting dual nature and before he was enslaved the world was his playground (he still has several suns that he keeps around to play with). Nahadoth, the dangerous god of night, was also a major character as Yeine’s romantic interest.

There’s a lot packed into this book and it deals with themes such as race, gender, slavery and religion. Yet these different issues are all subtly intertwined into the story – there are no long diatribes on any of them and they are all incorporated into the novel without being heavy-handed or excessive. Yeine is a dark-skinned woman raised in a matriarchal society. The gods were enslaved and this removal of the other gods affected the people’s religion and the perception of truth.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was both entertaining and different. This debut novel had a compelling story with some complex and human characters, and I’m really looking forward to reading more by N.K. Jemisin.

My Rating: 9/10

Where I got my reading copy: The publisher sent me a copy.

Excerpts:

Other Reviews:

It was actually leaning this week since I received 7 review copies and stacked them with the need-to-review pile as they came in (which is now at 5 since I read both The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews this week – I have started on The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms review and am hoping to finish it soon). These were all unexpected review copies but there are some I will definitely be reading because they do look very interesting.

The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee

I’ve heard that Karin Lowachee’s science fiction trilogy starting with Warchild is excellent but have never read any of them (they were all out of print, although I’ve seen Warchild for sale on Amazon recently for a rather hefty chunk of change – $20 for the mass market paperback). So when I heard she had a new fantasy coming out, I was looking forward to reading it and was very happy to find a copy in my mailbox yesterday. I just started this Inuit inspired novel last night, so hopefully I can have a review up around the time it comes out in late March/early April (the publisher website has it listed as April but it is available on Amazon on March 30).

At the edge of the known world, an ancient nomadic tribe faces a new enemy-an Empire fueled by technology and war.

A young spiritwalker of the Aniw and a captain in the Ciracusan army find themselves unexpectedly thrown together. The Aniw girl, taken prisoner from her people, must teach the reluctant soldier a forbidden talent – one that may turn the tide of the war and will surely forever brand him an outcast.

From the rippling curtains of light in an Arctic sky, to the gaslit cobbled streets of the city, war is coming to the frozen north. Two people have a choice that will decide the fates of nations – and may cast them into a darkness that threatens to bring destruction to both their peoples.

The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke

This is the first book in the Stormlord trilogy (known as the Watergivers trilogy in Australia, where it was first published). From what I read about it, it’s supposed to be fairly traditional fantasy but a good one. I actually considered reading this one next and will be giving it a try at some point. The Last Stormlord came out this month, and the second book, Stormlord Rising, will be coming out in the US in August 2010 and in the UK in September 2010 (it just came out at the beginning of this month in Australia).

Shale is the lowest of the low-an outcast from a poor village in the heart of the desert. In the desert water is life, and currency, and Shale has none. But he has a secret. It’s the one thing that keeps him alive and may save all the cities of the Quartern in the days to come. If it doesn’t get him killed first…

Terelle is a slave fleeing a life as a courtesan. She finds shelter in the home of an elderly painter but as she learns the strange and powerful secrets of his art she fears she may have traded a life of servitude for something far more perilous…

The Stormlord is dying in his tower and there is no one, by accident or design, to take his place. He brings the rain from the distant seas to his people. Without a Stormlord, the cities of the Quartern will wither and die.

Their civilization is at the brink of disaster. If Shale and Terelle can find a way to save themselves, they may just save them all. Water is life and the wells are running dry…

The Folding Knife by K.J. Parker

Since I have heard some good things about other books by K.J. Parker, this was another one I considered reading next and I am planning to read it at some point. I can’t find any information on whether it is a stand alone or the start of a series on the publisher or author website (the latter is still in the works and doesn’t really have any information at all). The Folding Knife was released last month.

Basso the Magnificent. Basso the Great. Basso the Wise. Basso the Murderer.

The First Citizen of the Vesani Republic is an extraordinary man. He is ruthless, cunning, and above all, lucky. He brings wealth and power and prestige to his people. But with power comes unwanted attention, and Basso must defend his nation and himself from threats foreign and domestic. In a lifetime of crucial decisions, he’s only ever made one mistake.

One mistake, though, can be enough.

The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin

Kate Griffin also writes YA under the name Catherine Webb. This is the sequel to A Madness of Angels, an urban fantasy set in London. The first book sounded interesting and there’s supposed to be enough information to keep a newcomer from getting lost in this installment, so I’d like to read this one, too. The Midnight Mayor is coming out in hardcover on March 8, although it’s already in stock on Amazon.

It’s said that if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, then the Tower will crumble and the kingdom will fall. As it happens, that’s not so far from the truth…

London faces its gravest threat since the Great Fire, and resurrected sorcerer Matthew Swift is alarmed to find himself thrust into the position of savior. One by one, the magical wards that guard the city are falling: the London Wall defiled with cryptic graffiti, the ravens found dead at the Tower, the London Stone destroyed.

Scattered throughout London, this multitude of magical defenses – a mix of international tourist attractions and forgotten urban legends – add up to a formidable magical shield. Protection for the City of London against . . . well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

If Matthew Swift is lucky, he might just live long enough to find the answer.

The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells

This is the second book in the Sabina Kane series, following Red-Headed Stepchild. I was considering reading this one but from what I read on the author’s website it sounds like it may not be a good idea if you haven’t read the first one, which I don’t have. This book is coming out in April 2010 according to the publisher’s website, but Amazon has it available starting on March 30.

Sabina Kane doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, the leader of the vampire race, just tried to kill her. When she arrives in New York to meet the mage side of her family, the reunion takes the fun out of dysfunctional.

On top of that, the Hekate Council wants to use her as a pawn in the brewing war against the vampires. Her mission will take her into the bowels of New York’s Black Light district, entangles her in mage politics, and challenges her beliefs about the race she was raised to distrust. And Sabina thought vampires were bloodthirsty.

The War of the Dwarves by Markus Heitz

This is the second book in the Dwarves series following The Dwarves. It is by a German author and is a bestseller in Europe, so the series is now being released in the English language. The War of the Dwarves is coming out on March 23.

The mood in Girdlegard is buoyant, but while Tungdil and the dwarves are celebrating their victory over the treacherous Nôd’onn, an army of orcs is heading north, on course for the dwarven kingdom. The sinister magic of the dead glades has lent the orcs an almost supernatural power and Tungdil and his friends must summon all their strength to keep the beasts at bay.

Unbeknownst to them, greater dangers lie ahead: eleven descendants of the dark lord Tion are marching on Girdlegard’s western border, accompanied by an army of warriors. But real dwarves never give in, no matter how bad the odds…


Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime by Mizuki Nomura

This one wins for title and description that made me the most curious. This is the first novel in the Book Girl series (YA books) and it is coming out in July 2010.

For self-styled ‘book girl,’ third-year high school student Tooko Amano, being the head of the literary club is more than just an extracurricular activity with minor perks. It’s her bread and butter …literally! Tooko is actually a literature-gobbling demon, and instead of the less palatable option of water-soaked bread, she opts to munch on torn out pages from all kinds of stories. But for Tooko, the real delicacies are handwritten stories. And to satisfy her gourmet tastes, she’s employed (aka. browbeaten) one Konoha Inoue, an underclassman who has retreated from writing novels after his experiences with getting published at an early age. So day in and day out, Konoha scribbles away to satisfy Tooko’s appetite. But when, one day, another student comes knocking on the literary club door to seek advice on writing love letters, will Tooko discover a new kind of delicacy to whet her voracious appetite?


Whew! That one took a while to put together. So are there any books in particular you’d like to see reviewed from that list?

Mar
02
2010

February was a decent reading month since I read some really good books and brought the yearly total up to 10. Unfortunately I got sick this week and haven’t been able to think straight (ugh – and it’s only worse today) so I didn’t get to finish getting caught up on reviews after I started to… There’s always this weekend.

The books of February were:

6. Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
7. Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
8. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (review forthcoming)
9. Sea Dragon Heir by Storm Constantine (review forthcoming)
10. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire (review forthcoming)

Favorite book read in February: Normally this would be a tough choice because I really enjoyed Mirror Dance, Bone Crossed and A Local Habitation. But I loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and it is currently my favorite read of the year.

What did everyone read in February?

Due to illness, I’ve gotten far more reading than reviewing done this weekend. I just finished A Local Habitation, the second book in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, which is coming out on March 2. It was a lot of fun, and I did think it was better than the first book (which I also liked). So reviews of that, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin and Sea Dragon Heir by Storm Constantine will be coming up sometime when I’m feeling up to it. In the meantime, I’ll probably be reading more short books until I’m over this cold, but I decided that’s ok since I’ll be reading the massive Warriors anthology soon and that will give me some time to get caught up.

This week I got two more unsolicited review copies. I most likely won’t be reading either – one just doesn’t sound like my type of book and the other is the third book in a series I haven’t read.

Demon Possessed by Stacia Kane

This is the third book in the Megan Chase series. I have heard some good things about the first two so if I find out this one works ok as a stand alone, I might read it. With all the other books I have to read, I’m probably not going to try to acquire the first two to read it, though. Demon Possessed just came out toward the end of February.

Here is the blurb:

Psychologist and psychic Megan Chase has grown remarkably comfortable hanging out with demons. The demon “family” she leads is happy, her solo practice is stabilizing, and she and her steamy demon lover, Greyson Dante, are closer than ever. But when the couple books a week at a luxury hotel to attend a meeting of demon leaders, some unanticipated problems appear. An FBI agent with an unhealthy interest in less-than-legitimate demon business practices shows up; the demon community is urging Megan to undergo the rite that will make her a real demon; and a slightly shady minister is holding one of his wildly popular “weekend exorcisms” just down the road. And oh, yes, someone with scary magical abilities is attempting to kill her. Then, just when it seems as if things couldn’t possibly get any worse, a secret comes to light that could jeopardize Megan and Greyson’s future — if Megan manages to live that long. With things heating up, it’s becoming difficult for her to keep a cool head…

Empire: A Zombie Novel by David Dunwoody

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of zombie novels so I most likely will not be reading this one under any circumstances. Empire will be released on March 16.

Here is the blurb:

The year is 2112.

The crippled U.S. government and its military forces are giving up the century-long fight against an undead plague. Born of an otherworldly energy fused with a deadly virus, the ravaging hordes of zombified humans and animals have no natural enemies. But they do have one supernatural enemy: Death himself.

Descending upon the ghost town of Jefferson Harbor, Louisiana, the Grim Reaper embarks on a bloody campaign to put down the legions that have defied his touch for so long. He will find allies in the city’s last survivors, and a nemesis in a man who wants to harness the force driving the zombies—a man who seeks to rebuild America into an empire of the dead.

Hailed as “A MACABRE MASTERPIECE OF POST-APOCALYPTIC ZOMBIE GOODNESS” on the Library of the Living Dead podcast, Empire brings stunning new twists to a shattering and unforgettable scenario of the not-too-distant future.