Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Inheritance Trilogy #2

The Broken Kingdoms

Rate this book
The gods have broken free after centuries of slavery, and the world holds its breath, fearing their vengeance. The saga of mortals and immortals continues in THE BROKEN KINGDOMS. In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a homeless man who glows like a living sun to her strange sight. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. Oree's peculiar guest is at the heart of it, his presence putting her in mortal danger -- but is it him the killers want, or Oree? And is the earthly power of the Arameri king their ultimate goal, or have they set their sights on the Lord of Night himself?


First published November 3, 2010

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

N.K. Jemisin

133 books53.5k followers
N. K. Jemisin lives and works in New York City.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
12,055 (36%)
4 stars
14,756 (44%)
3 stars
5,424 (16%)
2 stars
817 (2%)
1 star
222 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,578 reviews
Profile Image for CC.
79 reviews50 followers
February 8, 2023
Jemisin's books tend to make me feel that numeric ratings are pointless. I gave four stars to The Killing Moon, although it is now one of my personal classics. I'm giving the same four stars to this book, although it didn't speak to me nearly as much--in fact, not even as much as The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which I only rated 3.

Let me try to explain.

Set ten years after the ending of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms features a mostly new cast of characters, mainly Oree, a blind artist living in a city beneath the World Tree, and Bright Itempas. The two become unexpected allies when a conspiracy against godlings disrupts the order of the city, and a journey of dangerous intrigue ensues. This journey--filled with suspense, action, and plenty of surprises, is the main reason for the four stars. Compared to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the plot here is much more engaging and tightly paced, easily keeping me on the edge of my seat for almost the entire read, which is a rare thing as far as fantasy books go for me (I tend to find most of them not suspenseful in that particular way).

The main character, Oree, is also a lot more relatable than Yeine from the first book. As a street artist, her struggles in life are very much like our own. She needs to make money and feed herself; she needs to tread carefully in what little space she is allowed at the bottom of society; she feels lonely and craves friendship and love. Her thought process matches her background--realistic, practical. It's funny that I was just chatting with a couple of friends last week about Jemisin's characters not being easily understandable to me in general, and here I am, finally finding one that feels just like one of us.

However, relatable and understandable don't necessarily mean memorable. Despite being one of the better fleshed-out characters in Jemisin's worlds, Oree didn't capture me in an emotional way. Her personality--lacking the fierce loyalty and faith of the Dreamblood characters, or the stubborn and obsessive desire of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms characters (that's a very YA thing, true, but that's still something)--didn't appeal to me. Her greatest ambition in the entire book was to survive, and she gave up on even that for a good handful of chapters. Yes, I admit that this ambition (or lack thereof) is consistent with her nature, and that it's also perfectly valid and realistic, but characters without something in their heart worth living and dying for just don't shine for me. They are fine and nice and maybe easy to connect to, but I'll forget them as soon as I finish the book.

The romance is another letdown.

Incidentally, Oree's character trajectory appears to run somewhat parallel to that of another major character from The Shadowed Sun. I wonder if that was partly intentional, given Dreamblood was written first but not published till later due to marketing concerns. Had Jemisin reworked part of (vague spoiler for The Shadowed Sun) into Oree for a test drive? Either way, I much preferred the other version. Both emotionally and thematically, The Broken Kingdoms is far less powerful than any of its predecessors from the same author, and it's unfortunately not one of my favorites despite the four stars for the beautiful writing and thrilling plot.
Profile Image for Vinaya.
185 reviews2,078 followers
June 19, 2011
I've thought a lot about why N.K. Jemisin's writing doesn't appeal as much to me as it should. Undoubtedly, The Broken Kingdoms was an infinitely better book than The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. You could almost see Jemisin grow as a writer and as a person, as the world becomes more vivid and more real to her than the scattered pieces of lore she inserted into the first book. The writing style and characterizations, too, felt smoother and more personal. All in all, The Broken Kingdoms was a better reading experience.

But there is one common thread between these books that really disturbs me on a personal level. Jemisin seems to like making her heroines so very helpless. It's not a function of disenfranchisement or marginalization that makes them so; it seems to be built into them, this instinct to fall apart when the shit hits the fan. Like Yeine in the first book, Oree spends a lot of time being the victim of circumstance. Her actions rarely empower her, and her epiphanies are all forced out of her by the actions of other people. There were way too many times in this book where she was not just fatalistic about her impending death, but actually ready and willing to embrace it. And not in a positive way, either; mostly she knew it was coming and didn't do anything but accept it.

The other area where Jemisin leaves me cold are her romantic relationships. In fact, I think both The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms would have been better, more solid books if the author hadn't tried to write a romance into them. Tried being the operative word.

Plotwise, I found this infinitely more interesting than the first. The Broken Kingdoms is a more mature, better written book that doesn't try as hard to be a special snowflake. I'm still not convinced that Jemisin is the writer her hype makes her out to be, but I do respect authors who work at their craft and grow better with each successive book, instead of assuming they're the next best thing to God and sitting around patting themselves on the back. I'd be interested to see where she goes from here- to be sure, the sheer amount of diversity present in her characters makes her awesome and I'm hoping her books get better and better.
Profile Image for mwana .
369 reviews207 followers
March 18, 2022
too much love is never a good thing.
I have never been on such a roller coaster of a ride. My god. I think I left my heart in Sky.

The story starts ten years after the events of the first book. The World Tree, a result of the finale of the first book (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms), is now a sprawling metropolis. All kinds of people and godlings have moved in. There is more integration. But with every attempt at multiculturalism, there is always a heretic group that seeks to "purify" and return to the status quo.

Our main character and narrator is Oree Shoth. A blind artist who lives in Shadow, an urban sprawl that exists in the er shadows of the World Tree. She is a rather interesting character. I am, you see, a woman plagued by gods. I can honestly say I've never encountered anyone like her. In turn compelling and ANNOYING. I hesitate to say this to most people but if ever there was a time for someone to learn to shut up and think before they spoke, it would be nearly every time this girl encounters a god.

However, there is something special about her. See, Oree can see magic. Apparently she doesn't have normal blind eyes. They're rather odd. But she's never seen them herself, she just knows from people's reactions. Oree's ability to see magic makes her a beacon for trouble. Her apathy to her well-being was so concerning for a second I wondered if she was Nairobian. But she's not. She's Maroneh. She is certainly beautiful. With a heart overflowing with kindness even for those who deserve suspicion.

Oree Shoth PinUp (Lee Moyer)

When Oree finds a man half dead in the gutter, she picks him up and takes him home. She cohabits with this man who appears to have no recollection of who or what he is. Or even why he has a propensity for attempting to kill himself. She calls him Shiny because he shines really bright during the day. Or at least, his magic does.

Meanwhile, someone is killing godlings, carving out their hearts and letting their blood spill into the streets of Shadow. One of the earliest victims is Role, sister of Madding, Oree's lover. Oree stumbled onto her body and Madding carried her away to try and trace her final events before her death. Meanwhile, Lord of Darkness (and my heart, but I digress) Nahadoth is very very very angry that someone is targeting his children. Or the children of The Three (Enefa-who is now Yeine,
I suppose someday my own name will be better known, but until then, I find it irritating when others treat me and my predecessor as interchangeable.
Itempas and Nahadoth). Nahadoth gives them a deadline to find out who is murdering his children. The Order of Itempas, a discount gestapo that is more hubris than valour and more vibes than investigation decide to target Oree and Madding.

This doesn't go down well. Shiny reacts poorly to Oree being threatened and finding out about Role's death and this kickstarts a shit storm that had me on the edge of my seat with my heart in my throat.

I have wild feelings about this book. Oree is not the most compelling character. She is even aware of it, which leaves me with even more awe at just how talented Jemisin is. I'm sorry Nora, but were you in my head when you were writing this book? At one point, towards the climax, when Flo Rida would scream IT'S GOING DOWN FOR REAL, Oree tell us
You may think me a coward. You'll remember that I fled when Shiny told me to, instead of staying to fight at his side. You will remember that throughout this final horror, I was useless, helpless, too terrified to be any good to anyone, including myself. It may be that by telling you this, I have earned your contempt.
And she did. Not because I didn't understand that abject, choking fear. But because I am living it. But in books, they're supposed to fight. In books, they're supposed to be strong. They're not supposed to be us. Cowardly, snivelling us who would rather crawl in a hole and sleep and be woken when the world is better. For some of us, tedium and familiarity feel worse than risking your life. In books, they're supposed to inspire us. Not mirror us. Not remind us of the ugliest parts of ourselves. Those who choose to do nothing in the spirit of self-preservation. Who choose not to love to avoid heartbreak. Who choose cruelty to avoid disappointment.

I was sorry, so awfully sorry for doubting Jemisin. Because this book is still a source of strength. Oree, despite her annoyances, is still an inspiration.
I regret some of what's happened to me. But not all of it.
Once more, this book held my hand.
"Regret is never meaningless," I said, "It's not enough, not on its own; you have to change, too. But it's a start.
Ugh seriously, Nora Keita Jemisin, were you in my mind circa 2022 when you wrote this?

Aside from all that, the prose is as delightful as ever. As Oree is blind, we see a lot of the new world through Oree's feelings. It's amazing how things are described. Oree is also uniquely charming,
I could smell the heavy, soporific incense of the Darkwalkers—worshippers of the Shadow Lord. There weren’t many of them, though; they tended not to be morning people.
This book extrapolates loneliness. Far better than any book I've encountered. Loneliness can drive people and gods to do mad mad things. This is a book about redemption, about payment, about reparations, about heresy, about adjusting to a new world order. It is a love story. It is a tragedy. It is a Shakespearean comedy. It is a story. One that set me whole. One that left me broken.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,964 followers
October 18, 2015
This novel was easily and truly better, imho, than the first in the trilogy.

From start to finish I loved the gentle rolling cadences of the story, the hope for a better life in the middle of so much poverty, even when it was the godlings and a certain shiny god that was experiencing the poverty. I originally thought this might actually turn out to be a mainline tale of redemption, and it was, for the most part, but I was even more surprised to enjoy the fact that it was a tale of demons, or the progeny of gods and mortals, if you prefer, and I don't mind either way. I thought it was a very beautiful story. I've got a really huge soft spot in my heart for tales like this.

Even if it's a redemption tale for the biggest asshole in the first book. Oh, but let me be clear, here: Shiny hardly gets anything that he desires, and the briefest of tastes of happiness is still going to have to last him for the next two thousand years, if twilight and darkness continue to have any say in it, but it's the glimmer of hope that I choose to focus on.

I'm certain that Oree would agree with me. I really love her. She's the consummate observer, strong in will and understanding, and never lets her blindness hold her back. The little gift she holds makes her very interesting and gives the reason and impetus of the story, as well, but more than that, it throws us into the middle of the lives of the godlings without ever being truly a "part" of it. Such a nice balancing act. The realism and the humorous beginnings, aside, the plot was nothing to sneeze at, either. The direct implications may not have been as grandiose as the first novel, but the long term definitely was.

The complete assassination of all the gods? Wow. And the ignorance was just as staggering, giving me a great time yelling at the bad guys, saying "No, don't! You idiot! Don't you know...?"

Too funny. I really enjoyed this novel. Jemisin is a master storyteller. I'm going to be running through her entire catalog before long. :)
Profile Image for Lightreads.
641 reviews524 followers
April 8, 2011
So when I heard that the sequel to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was about a blind woman who could see magic and who was a painter . . .?

. . . I made A Face.

A blind woman who sees magic and paints. I mean, seriously, this is the disability equivalent of the magical negro, you guys, and my face was not impressed.

After reading the book, I’m mostly puzzled. Because it was a pretty good book, full of win on several measures, and I just didn’t care all that much. It’s about a fallen god, but not about how our heroine saves him with her vagina. In fact, it’s mostly about her, imagine that, against a background not muddied by assorted racial and sexual fail.

And hell, it even did a pretty good job with a blind point-of-view. I spent a hundred pages grumbling to myself about how the narrative didn’t feel peculiar to me, about how nothing stuck out, where was the POV work – oh. Nothing was sticking out at me, because the inner landscape sounded a lot like mine, with visual referents used only as far as they’ve been culturally absorbed from everyone else, not because they actually mean anything to her. (Though the occasions when she could see via looking at magic were weirdly pedestrian to me, described almost completely in bog-standard visual terms. It felt like cheating, frankly, like functional sight could be flicked on and off at narrative convenience.) But it mostly wasn't about the Amazing Insight (TM) that that narrator has by being disabled or whatever, so there's that.

But mostly, eh. Didn’t care much. And when there's a book about a blind woman my age who broke from her family to move across a continent to live on her own near the center of power -- who lived my life, basically -- and I don't care?

Someone brilliant said these books feel like anime, and that is so fucking true. Long-haired emo gods, and people with thematically significant names, and, well, a blind woman who paints.

And sees magic. And paints. I cannot point that out enough. Because really.
Profile Image for Hannah.
591 reviews1,051 followers
May 21, 2019
It is kind of unfair that I measure N. K. Jemisin's book against her other books - because this one was exceptionally brilliant as well, just not quite as awe-inspiring as The Fifth Season. So, for any other author this probably would have been a five star read as well, but I can't get myself to award them. I am absolutely, 100% in love with her writing and I cannot wait to read more book of hers. The next book in the series is already smiling at me from my night stand so I will probably not have the willpower to not start it sooner than later.

After the events of the last book, Sky - or Shadow as it is now called - has fundamentally changed, for one thing there is now the massive tree growing in the middle of the city. But more importantly - the godlings have returned and are mingling with humans. When one of these godlings turns up dead, Oree Shoth, a blind artist able to see magic, is pulled into a dangerous and weird turn of events.

What I loved more than anything was how the focus of the story shifted and we get to see Yeine and Sieh and Nahadoth from a totally different perspective. This changes so much about them and recontextualizes so much about their behaviour and the way they appear while still maintaining a core of what they seemed like when the reader was closer to them. I so so loved this! Sieh was even more otherworldly and even more cruel without Yeine's love for him colouring the way the reader experiences him. I thought that this was such a brilliant writing choice and I cannot wait to see how his characterization develops in the last book. I love how the way the stories are framed make so much sense in-universe while also serving as a way of distinguishing Jemisin's world from others.

N. K. Jemisin has such a brilliant way with worldbuilding while at the same time never forgetting the emotional core of her storywriting and I cannot think of many authors, fantasy or otherwise, who are as adept at this. I have said it before, but THIS is why I read fantasy.

PS: I have changed my rating to 5 stars anyways because I do love it so.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,219 reviews2,051 followers
February 2, 2022
A rainy day, nothing really important I should be doing and a book by N.K. Jemisin. What more could I ask for?

I loved the first book in this series and this one was just as good. The Broken Kingdoms revolves around a new character, Oree Shoth, but many characters from the first book play a part, mostly the gods. Much of the action takes place in Shadow the town beneath the World Tree.

Oree is a blind artist who makes trinkets for sale in the market. Despite being blind she can see magic in anything or anyone who has it and this includes her own paintings. She also seems to attract gods, godlings and demons which leads her into a whole lot of trouble.

This was a very difficult book to put down as the action was continuous and there was no way of second guessing the author's plans. Some unexpected characters died and there were no happily ever afters. Or maybe there were. There was hope. I am very keen now to continue with the series asap.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,414 reviews391 followers
June 21, 2020
In the city of Shadow, blind artist Oree makes a living selling trinkets in the local market. Her secret—that she can see magic—is hidden, but her secrets are about to be revealed when a godling is found murdered in the alley behind her stall. Everything points to Oree and her new, mysterious houseguest, but is it him the murderers want...or her?

I enjoyed The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but this one was even better!

This picks up about ten or so years after Yeine unlocks her power, and deals with the aftermath of freeing the godlings and reincarnating the third god.

At first glance, Oree is nothing special: she's an artist, she's blind, and she ekes out a living that's comfortable but not wealthy.

Then as her layers are pulled away, more is revealed. She can see magic, particularly the magic of the gods, and can wield magic herself in the form of beautiful paintings that mix colors no one has ever seen before. She has a godling bedmate, and her mysterious houseguest glows gold every sunrise.

I really like how this book delved into the implications of a third goddess rising back into the pantheon, the godlings themselves being released from their slavery, and the Arameri elite losing their near-god status and power over their godling-slaves.

And I liked that the world opened up even further to reveal the people of Shadow, the city beneath the World Tree, and all of its politicking and livelihood. And that the magical world of the Inheritance trilogy (damn that trilogy name is really...telling) was expanded upon, as other magical beings were revealed and explored, and past hurts and evils were opened up.

Where Hundred Thousand Kingdoms explores the crimes of the past and how they affect and influence the present and future, this one takes that exploration and electrocutes it. So much is revealed, and so many things that happened Before affect the now of this book, and how everyone and everything relate.

Yes, this review is 100% based upon vagueness and circumlocution (10 points to me for my ~fancy~ vocab), but you're just going to have to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and then this one. Although technically you could probably get away with just reading this one, as it's kinda a stand-alone and kinda not. Oree explains most everything that happened in the first book, so it's really more of a companion novel than a sequel. But it does take lots of fantasy tropes and messes with them, and also there are cults!

Who can resist a book with scary death cults in it?
Profile Image for Lazaros.
271 reviews524 followers
August 25, 2015
What fascinated me with the first book in the series was how rich the world-building was for a series so short in pages. I love background on characters, history etc. Especially if this history is mainly on Gods created for a fictional universe.

This one was a really descent follow-up, and like the first book I loved how fast-paced it was. N.K. Jemisin has a knack for narrating amazing stories with incredibly interesting and complex characters. She knows how to uncomplicate them too, though and that's the most important thing of all.

So, this one follows a different plot and different characters from the first and that was the first thing stroke me as strange but I got used to it real fast.

While the first one is about ascension to divinity, this one was more about the Gods' offsprings, intriguing and very original. Oree, the main character, is the pigheaded kind of woman, and she's very interesting to read about, since you can't easily predict what her next move's gonna be.

Oree is blind, for some reason though she can see magic, and whatever creature is holding magic within it... Her paintings are vivid things, coming to life when she wills them. Real interesting, huh?

Death, love, passion, anger, and some pretty good twists made up for this really good follow-up. If you've read the first book and liked it then I heartily recommend this to you.
Profile Image for Henk.
849 reviews
April 25, 2023
This second book of the trilogy really threw me of, with strange pacing and a much too #notlikeothergirls character to be enjoyable, despite the interesting further development of the world
You’re free now. Be what you choose to be, not what they made you.

Oree, the main character of this book, feels like a merchant peddling goods at Sacre Coeur in Paris, but here its Yggdrasil that’s the tourist attraction.
I feel the trope of a special girl #notlikeothergirls, who falls for someone who is hard to get/understand but *gasp* is also someone very special makes this instalment hard to get through. In The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms this was kind of unexpected, now it felt rather tiresome.

It doesn't help that Oree just keeps pushing through action scenes, and I don’t really feel that she is a genuine character with true feelings for others around her at all. Also why the hell everyone, including gods, is in love with this blind superwoman without money is rather beyond credulous (and again overly solemn/cringe executed at times: Maybe he thought it was better to keep you prisoner and be hated than lose you entirely).

Events crash into her and the reader unannounced and hardly explained, only very loosely embedded in the world as drawn in the first book.
And she has such powers and allies that any problem seems rather trifling in comparison to.

To be positive: I feel the scenery, and change from book one are well done, we have a city around a giant ass tree and personal eclipses, drawings that come to life, gods roaming the city streets and acting as merchants.
But I can’t recall in any way what motivates the evil cult after the main characters, nor why one of the gods just issues a random ultimatum of total destruction instead of using divine powers to just get shit done.
It all feels rather contrived and I was left unconvinced.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 45 books128k followers
May 27, 2011
Well, having drooled all over the first in this series, I didn't QUITE love it as much as the other, but the bar was set so high it would have been extremely hard to outdo my love for the first protagonist. I found myself feeling disloyal when I sided with this one occasionally, haha.

This book was very good though, I was definitely engrossed (except for a section where I got impatient with the character's plight, I don't want to spoil but I think anyone who reads will know what I'm referring to). The world was further filled out from the first book in interesting ways, and the ultimate twists in character were unexpected.

I think the biggest thing I liked about it was that it took the plot of the first novel, and twisted it to see from a differing characters POV. It was interesting to see events differently, and emphasized that there is no black and white, just gray subjectivity.

Can't wait for #3 now!
Profile Image for Stuart.
718 reviews267 followers
September 10, 2016
The Broken Kingdoms: Liked this better than the first book
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Based on The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate (the first two books in her BROKEN EARTH trilogy), N.K. Jemisin immediately became my favorite SFF author of this decade. Her DREAMBLOOD series was also very good, an original fantasy based on Egyptian and Nubian themes. However, as I was working backwards, I got to her earliest series last, the INHERITANCE trilogy. And in comparison, I thought The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was not as amazing as her BROKEN EARTH books. In particular, the YA mortal-girl-falls-for-sexy-but-troubled-immortal-guy aspect really didn’t interest me.

So I was pleasantly surprised by The Broken Kingdoms, her follow-up to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It dialed back on the romance elements somewhat, and I really liked the heroine Oree Shoth, a young blind woman who sells art to religious pilgrims who come to Shadow, the city below the World Tree that grew following the climactic events of the previous book. The reign of Bright Itempas came to an end, the Gray Lady was born (or reborn, perhaps), and Nahadoth the Night Lord was freed, along with a host of ‘godlings’ who made their new homes in Shadow. It is a fascinating milieu, and one I much preferred to the palace intrigues of the first book. In addition, we see the lives of more commoners and street merchants.

What is really great about this book is that we see the events and characters of the first book from a completely different perspective, that of Oree. She is special for two reasons - she is blind, but she also has an ability to to see the magical auras projected by goslings and scriveners. So in her world of darkness, these beings glow with bright auras. And when one day she stumbles over the dead body of a murdered godling and then takes in a strange man who glows very brightly, (she names him “Shiny” since he doesn’t offer his name or any other information), her life will never be the same.

Oree is a great heroine, one who refuses to let her blindness become a disability or excuse to give up on life. She has a circle of friends who help her, and she makes a precarious living by selling her art. In fact, despite her blindness, she has an uncanny knack for creating incredible paintings that have real power. However, she knows that revealing this ability may attract the unwanted attention of the Order Keepers of Itempas.

Since the godlings have been released unto the world once again, the political and religious climate has been thrown into flux. Several religious orders still revere Itempas, and the Arameri still hold political power in Sky, but beneath the surface many factions seek to leverage the situation to their advantage. As it turns out, one group in particular wants to completely upset the hierarchy of the gods, and is murdering godlings as a means to this end. They decide that Oree’s abilities may be of use to them and come in pursuit.

Oree, Shiny, and their allies find themselves entangled in a series of intrigues that will reveal unexpected strengths and powers. However, their enemies are ruthless and powerful. Finally, the gods themselves will get involved, and we will see new sides to them as things come to a head in the finale. There is even a coda that adds a more bittersweet note to the lives of the two main characters.

In hindsight I thought the characters, plot, pacing, and world-building of The Broken Kingdoms was superior to the first book. Sure, there were still mortal-god romance elements that I could live without, but it didn’t overwhelm the story here. Jemisin also revealed a lot more backstory about the War of the Gods and the religious and political ramifications of events of the first book. More than anything, the descriptions of Oree’s world, in many ways a hyper-reality informed by her unique visualizations, was something fresh and intriguing. Casaundra Freeman remained the narrator for this book, and she does an exemplary job with the characters and story - she tells the story with relish and enthusiasm. So I would be willing to give the third book Kingdom of the Gods a try, but for some inexplicable reason Brilliance Audio has not produced an audio version.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,644 reviews5,094 followers
December 20, 2017
more compelling adventures in the second volume of N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy. this one features a mortal trying to deal with a bunch of gods, a fanatical cult, and the slow shift in culture taking place on a mystical world. the novel is pure high fantasy, but in its popping pace, realistic-cynical perspective, often snappy dialogue, and Big City setting (as well as the polished but not particularly distinctive prose), it felt much like an urban fantasy novel rather than one taking place entirely outside of our own reality. this is not to its detriment; in particular during the first quarter, which sketches the heroine's life as a young artist trying to make her way in the big city with a little help from her friends. the beginning made me recall my own 20s, finding my way in San Francisco.

quite possible to read as a standalone; it has been several years since I read the first novel in the series, and for the first half of the book I really wasn't connecting any dots between books, and that was fine. (although after a consult with Wikipedia and the author's own webpage, some of the characters had quite a bit more resonance after recalling their parts in the first book. but a WARNING: consulting Wikipedia about which gods are which meant I was seriously spoiled in regards to the second half of the book.)

the gods were fascinating. although a couple of them may as well have been humans, most were sufficiently strange and unearthly to truly seem a race apart. my favorite was the whimsical, sinister child-god Sieh, who it turns out was my favorite in the first book too. the conception and characterization of "Shiny" (great nickname!) was pretty impressive - and often really funny, for such an aloof and often threatening god. I also really dug the first level of that one god's mansion, which was basically a floor full of differently-sized whirlpools and hot tubs. I could live there.

the protagonist was the most compelling part of the book. ideally this should always be the case but unfortunately it is often not. but at least in The Broken Kingdoms we have a wonderfully complicated, pugnacious, relatable heroine who capably carries the whole of the story on her shoulders. a heroine with a disability that is detailed without a whiff of maudlin sympathy and that is only one part of her, and not even the defining part - just one part of a fascinating whole. Oree has agency and angst and anger and energy; she's a dynamic character, always moving forward. she's never a bystander and I loved that.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,984 followers
October 21, 2011
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

Warning: this review contains necessary spoilers for book 1 as well some minor spoilers for book 2. If you read book 1, you should be ok.

The day I started reading The Broken Kingdoms was the day I did not go to bed at all. I’ve been really busy lately with Work and Real Life and my reading time has unfortunately suffered as a consequence: I always used to read till about midnight every day but these days this is a rare occurrence as I tend to kaput way before that. Enter The Broken Kingdoms, the sequel to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (one of my top 10 reads of 2010), A.K.A the book that has kept me awake until I was done reading it. Because it is FABULOUS and I loved it as much as I loved its predecessor and that is no mean feat given how that book blew my mind away.

It’s been ten years since the events at the end of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. The world and its people are still in the process of understanding what exactly happened that day when a God fell, another was freed and a Goddess was reborn. How exactly those events affect the political system that kept the Thousand Kingdoms under the rule of the Arameri (the Human family that held the power of Gods) and the religious system that sustained everything is still left to be seen. Because the cohesiveness of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is effectively broken: the Arameri have lost most of their power and Kingdoms are regaining their freedom and starting to stand on their own feet; the one Order that worshiped Bright Itempas, the One God that ruled them all, started to lose its importance just as other Gods – major and minor – have come back and entered the worshipping roster.

In a smaller scale, people are minding their own business around the city. Oree, the narrator of this book, is a blind artist (she can’t see with her eyes, but she can see with her magic) trying to make her living but having a hard time staying away from Gods and Godlings’s business – she is, as per her own words, a woman plagued by Gods. The former lover of Madding, a minor Godling whom she still has strong (reciprocated) feelings for and friends with a strange figure that turned up at a rubbish bin near her house and who she ended up inviting to stay over. This bloke whom she calls Shiny for his ability to shine when the sun is rising, speaks very little and dies a lot only to resuscitate almost immediately. If you read the previous book, you will know who that is – and why he is the way he is. Oree doesn’t – at least not to start with – and part of the fun of this book is to see how long it will take her to figure out who he really is. Speaking of fun, please allow me an aside: oh, the cameos. I loved them.

The real plot kicks-in when Oree comes across a dead Godling, something that should have been an impossibility as only other Gods could ever have the power to do something like this. This whodunit is part of a larger plot that has to do with religious fanatics and political factions which in turn has to do with the even larger question of identity, of the relationship between Gods and Humans and ultimately the power balance between the three major Gods of this pantheon.

And it is in this combination of the small scale and the big picture that lays the excellence of this series. Oree is the main protagonist of this novel and the murder-mystery the moving force of the plot but they are not the centre of this universe – no, the central aspect of these novels are the three gods and their relationship with each other and with the universe at large. How they balance each other (or not), how their presence and/or absence influence the universe and how their relationship with puny humans have consequences.

This is fascinating because it is so well played out by the author. She somehow manages to make Oree important even as it is more than clear that her importance is a fleeting thing. She is after all, mortal, nothing but a blink in time in contrast to Gods and forces that are basically…eternal. She is important because she matters to the people who know her- like any other person in the world (ok, so perhaps she matters just a little bit more in the end given her heritage but still). Her narrative is awesome. Granted: it is not as spectacular as the one in the previous book but I have yet to find a narrative that engaged me so much as Yeine’s – all the backs and forths were exactly what I loved the most about that book. Yeine’s narrative was spectacular because it was grand, tense and urgent. Oree’s is less so, it is more friendly, focused and intimate – almost like a conversation. In fact, yes, it feels as though Oree is conversing with the reader (the truth is something else entirely but not that far from this. How is that for cryptic?). Because of this sense of intimacy, I felt her fear, her love, her chagrin, her grief, her isolation and loneliness as well as her fierceness and I loved her.

One of my favourite scenes is when Shiny tells his side of his story and although I felt for him a (small. Very, very small) degree of sympathy, I was more interested in hearing how Oree was relaying his story, how she felt about it and how she reacted to it. There is a great examination of how meaningful regret – even true, heartfelt regret – is in face of terrible acts. And how cool was it to see her, as a blind painter, understanding and examining the nature of Light?

Although there are themes such as identity, freedom, humans x Gods (not to mention, of course the overarching story of the three Gods) that connect The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms, the two books are very different. I would say that The Broken Kingdoms is less dramatic and is more thoughtful and quiet than its predecessor. It is SO sad and has an extremely bittersweet (emphasis on the bitter) yet fitting and therefore, perfect ending. It would have made my top 10 last year had I read it in time and I have been beating myself up for waiting this long to read it. I will not make the same mistake with the last book, The Kingdom of Gods. It is on my nightstand staring at me – I predict another sleepless night. And I welcome it.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews827 followers
November 19, 2017
Not too much to say about this one. It didn't resonate with me and so I trodded behind the plot like a bored spectator that couldn't be bothered either to boo or to clap.

The Broken Kingdoms takes place roughly ten years after the The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and is set in the same world. While it shares some of the characters, it is not so much a sequel as a companion novel. This time, however, instead of accompanying Nahadoth (and Sieh), we follow the footsteps of bright Itempas. The story itself is told by another mortal girl, Oree - a blind artist.

Well, not so blind to be honest as Oree can see magic and for the better part of the novel she narrates and behaves like a person without visual impairment only to lapse erratically into "lost in the darkness" scenes. Frankly, it was so inconsistent, that the blindness felt like a prop, like a plastic pear in a basket full of normal fruits:

"Paitya glanced back at the racing dog who was sniffing at the spot now." Couple of sentences later: "He looked down at me, scowling in irritation." And then on the next page: "I reached up to touch Madding's face, reading his expression with my fingers." And so on, and so forth.

I mean - really?

I didn't really like any of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' protagonists, and this book didn't manage to warm me up to them either. Essentially, this is a weird love story of two tangled triangles, with some cosmic existential drama of the divine species. As a romance, it plain sucks. As a fantasy, it hangs on the lower branches of the genre's tree plus there is nearly no action (but perhaps this is typical for the Inheritance trilogy).

Frankly, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as there are many better books around.

Also in the series:

1. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
3. The Kingdom of Gods
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,403 reviews1,850 followers
November 20, 2021
And here I was just saying how book one hadn't been as devastating as other Jemisin works. Welp, eating my words a little here. Nom.

I had a weird time with this book because while it was so different from book one, it was also great. Yet I had a hard time focusing on it despite that. Probably a me thing. Though there could've also been a bit of a middle lull. But I'm not shaving off any points because overall I'm so enjoying this story. And also because the last 15%? I devoured. And I was aforementioned devastated by.

I definitely shouldn't have doubted this author because how the hell did we end book one with a very clear horrible villain and here I am in book two.. feeling bad for them?

While I couldn't have predicted how this series tied together after THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS, it makes so much sense now. I may have been overthinking it because, haha, in hindsight it's obvious. Also not quite as mind-bendy as the narrative in her other series, which is fine, because again, I think this is a more palatable and easier fantasy to follow and process. But that doesn't make it any less interesting or special or challenging or thought provoking.

"It's all very well to say the world values reason and compassion and justice, but if nothing in reality reflects those words, they're meaningless."

It's been ten years since the end of the big shake-up, the end of book one, and in THE BROKEN KINGDOMS we follow Oree, who is blind but able to navigate to some degree due to her ability to see the echoes and presence of magic. She lives in the shadow of the World Tree, under the city where book one took place, which is city now populated by godlings. Some are her friends, another was a lover, and so when godlings start dying, Oree is caught in the middle of it. Made worse by the presence of a stranger she rescues who won't speak, isn't a godling, but is something.. else.

Watching the way things played out in the aftermath of book one was, in some ways, somewhat predictable, based on the geas, but in other ways? Not at all.

Even now, with a better understanding of the way this series is piecing itself together, I can't predict what might await us in book three. Mostly because I'm sure Jemisin has some surprises along the way. And hopefully some more devastations. Because what can I say, she does them well, and I like the pain.


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,649 reviews1,688 followers
February 9, 2017
I really, really liked the first book in this series, but I loved this second book. It just got to me, man. The plot, the characters, the setting . . . hit me right in, like, three of my sweet spots.

Spoilers for book one follow in this review. (You can actually read all three of these books separately, but you'll definitely get the most out of all of them if you read all three.)

The Broken Kingdoms takes place ten years after The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and features a different set of main characters. In the ten years since Yeine took over for Enefa and the city of the Arameri was surrounded by the giant world tree, the city surrounding has changed dramatically. It is now called Shadow, and has become a haven for godlings, and a site of pilgrimage for world travelers. Yeine and Nahadoth's presence (and Itempas's absence) has also gradually begun to change the world. The first book was all about Yeine and Nahadoth, but this one centers on the blind woman Oree Shoth, who lives in the shadow of the World Tree and sells art and maps to pilgrims. Despite being blind, she can see magic, and the book follows what happens to her after she takes in a homeless man she finds dead in a dumpster, who turns out to be a godling (which is why he doesn't stay dead). Her new housemate is gruff and silent and is obviously depressed, and so she names him 'Shiny,' which never, ever stops being hilarious, even by the end of the book.

The non-spoilery part of this I can tell you is that Oree becomes accidentally involved in a plot to kill godlings, and since she has personal relationships with godlings, and magical powers that awaken over the course of the book, she gets sucked in to the wake of the murders. It's fascinating to see the effect the events of the last book have had on this world, and to watch the characters react and change. Both Oree and Shiny have fantastic character arcs in this book, and the ending was perfect. It made me cry.

To get spoilery, Shiny is, He's a fantastic character, so proud and fearful and angry and resentful, yet vulnerable. Watching him change over the course of the book is so fantastic. It's like part identity quest, part redemption arc. It was seriously genius the way Jemisin handles him. In the first book, But here, we see not only as Shiny understands why what he did was wrong, but we also come to understand events from his point of view.

Literally the only criticism I have of this book is that the climax got a bit frantic and confusing. Guh, it's so good, otherwise.

(Probably good to note in the context of this review: Shiny is my favorite character, so I'm definitely biased in this book's favor.)

[4.5 stars]
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,260 reviews222 followers
November 23, 2015
This review is from my reread of the book in October 2015.

This was my favorite book of this trilogy when I initially read the series, and so far that continues to be the case. This is largely down to the main character, Oree Shoth, a blind artist who can see magic and perform some small acts of magic herself. In the Shadow of the World Tree of Sky magic and godlings are common, and Oree herself is friends with many of them. Her ex-lover is the God of Obligation. So she doesn't have any problems with taking in a strange mortal who keeps dying and resurrecting as well as glowing like the Sun with the dawn. Anyone who has read the first book should know exactly who that is.

When the book starts "Shiny" has been living with Oree for months without incident, but at the start of the book Oree literally stumbles over a dead godling and the story starts with trying to work out how this is possible and who would do such a thing. Other godlings get involved including Oree's ex-lover and also the Order of Bright Itempas as well as the sects that have popped up since the events of the first book.

Oree is a compelling character. Her strengths are clear, simply in the things she has overcome in her life and even her willingness to help people in worse situations than she is like Shiny. Even when she finds out who Shiny is and the crimes he has committed to leave him in his current state, her quiet acceptance of him is like a breathe of fresh air. And characteristically, she puts others before herself right to the end of the story.

There's also a great expansion of the mythos of this series in this one with all the godlings and even demons, what has become of many of the characters from the first book and exploring the life of the common people in this world. It's all great filling in of stuff that Yeine's obsessive week in Sky in the first book left no room for.

Fantastic book. All the stars. Looking forward to the next one.
Profile Image for Franzi.
110 reviews86 followers
December 23, 2021
3.75 Stars

So much better than the first book! I loved the characters and their development (even though I was sceptical in the beginning...) and the story was gripping with a more than satisfying ending. The start was a little slow but once the new characters were introduced the story developed beautifully.
I still think the lore surrounding the Gods and Godlings is one of the best things about this series.
Profile Image for Robyn.
827 reviews132 followers
October 17, 2015
I barely know where to begin a review of this one. It's a much smaller tale than The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, with an extremely tight focus on our main character, the blind artist Oree. She's drawn to the transformed city of former-Sky, Shadow, now dominated by the World Tree. And in it, she practices an art more like magic and dallies with godlings. One, day, she finds a dead godling in the market place. From there, her associations, her magic, and her very nature take her into the investigation to discover who is killing the godlings .... and who her new friend, Shiny, really is. There are some flaws to this book (as mentioned by many reviewers, Oree is very reactive and oddly passive at times) but it is always such a joy to read Jemison's prose that I don't really care. The depth of world-building (again, what I always say about her books) astonishes, and I enjoyed learning even more about this world. Can't wait for the next one!
Profile Image for Justine.
1,132 reviews309 followers
October 21, 2015
This second book in The Inheritance Trilogy again shows Jemisin's skill in world building and flair for creating interesting characters.

The main character in this book has a quiet and mature strength about her which is appealing, and continues to struggle with her own ideas of identity and independence in a very realistic way.
Profile Image for Beth.
912 reviews102 followers
August 10, 2017
Note: this review contains spoilers for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the first book in this series.

Oree Shoth is a blind artist living in the shadow of the World Tree that was created when Yeine ascended to godhood at the end of 100K Kingdoms. Although blind, she can see magic, and under the Tree there's plenty of magic to see, since the Tree itself is magical. She can also see godlings, direct descendants of the Three Gods, who now move about the human world.

Oree also has her own magic that comes forth when she paints, and in a moment of distress, she finds this magic can be dangerous. Her using it defensively immediately draws the attention of powerful factions acting in and around the Tree. She's carried along in a plot that could well change the world, and the cosmic realm of the gods, forever.

A little while before the story starts, Oree took in a strange nameless person who she found in the waste bin outside her home. She calls him "Shiny" because he glows magically at every sunrise. He also kills himself frequently and comes back to life. Astute readers will know Shiny's identity right away, although understandably it takes Oree some time to figure it out. Oree's and Shiny's destinies intertwine irrevocably throughout the book, down to its climactic conclusion.

I really like the world-building in this series! It's no "lords and ladies in a Western Europe analogue," or analogue of any Earth civilization that I know of: very much its own thing. The gods have recognizable emotions, but are also immortal, and their own interests and self-preservation, and those of their children the godlings, will always override human lives. The godlings expand the cosmology/pantheon of this world with immortals who are also physically alien--Lil and Dump immediately come to mind. The vendor's row where Oree lives, and the World Tree itself, are compelling settings, and the story keeps itself almost entirely to the Tree and its environs, showing no desire to span the world. Settings like the Village, and Artists' Row, highlight the inequality that persists even in a society that "provides for everyone."

Although I loved the setting, the plot lost me a lot of the time. "What's going on" is doled out to first-person narrator Oree in conversations she overhears or is an unwilling participant in as she's dragged from place to place, from a back alley to a heretic's enclave to the new seat of the Arameri. Oree's captors' plan is a mystery of sorts, but the clues weren't very helpful, and eventually it's just laid out in full to Oree anyhow.

Much like Yeine in the previous book, Oree is dragged into and through the plot, her presence in any given scene a result of what she is rather than who she is, and she isn't often an active participant in her own story. She's a scrapper, for sure, and is quite ingenious in escaping the prisons she's put into. There's an undercurrent of anger, even rage, in her, and she is constantly aware of, and fights against, the blithe and unthinkingingly malicious wielders of worldly power.

Her blindness, unfortunately, isn't convincing to me. Throughout the book, magic was conveniently at hand to enable her to view her surroundings. Once the suspension of disbelief regarding her disability was broken once by "can she really see this person's facial expression?" it never really came back. The power of her paintings, thankfully, wasn't overused, but it also felt plot-convenient and was all but forgotten in the second half of the novel.

This is Shiny's story, too, and, considering his nature, I think Jemisin did a good job making sure that his story didn't completely overwhelm Oree's. Oree's relationship with him is initially, and understandably, contentious. Eventually they come to an understanding, and even an odd, but firm, friendship. This time around, the felt earned by the story... and didn't have the overblown, almost goofy vibe that it had in 100K Kingdoms.

As for the larger plot featuring the splinter Itempan faction, I didn't see the need for a superhero vs. supervillain battle at the end, nor for a good/evil conflict at all; those aspects felt shoehorned in. Oree's role in that last battle was important, and what she ends up doing in it makes me wonder how actually works in this world. Maybe the novel is saying that it's powerful even in someone who isn't consistent about it.

I saw quite a few parallels between this book and The Fifth Season, which I read earlier. The powerful people who try to use magic (and its wielders/bearers) as a tool to get and keep even more power; the rage against oppression; the female lead who comes out swinging when it's important; the recognition that the world has all kinds of folks, not just straight or white ones. It was an intriguing look into Jemisin's earlier career, and what I now perceive as ongoing concerns in her work.

The Broken Kingdoms isn't quite as good as either Killing Moon or Fifth Season, but it was definitely worth reading on its own, and I'm looking forward to finishing the series with The Kingdom of Gods. Three and a half stars, rounded up.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
August 14, 2012
I can't remember exactly when I reread this -- July, I think. Not sure why I didn't review it again at the time. Anyway, I think for the sheer absorbingness of Jemisin's writing this would get five stars every time from me, even if reading it again I decided that I preferred the first book. The fact that she has a disabled main character, and takes a lot of care to make that realistic, really endeared this book to me the first time. I think there are a few cracks where it's not quite believable that she could really be blind and yet accept magical sight so easily, but for the most part, it worked for me.

The story itself... I agree with a review I read recently that mentioned that the writer was disappointed that Oree actually turned out to be super special in herself, like Yeine, when to begin with they appear like 'ordinary people' (what's an ordinary person?) caught up in events too big for them. It builds on what happened in the first book, while being a separate story, so in that way it fits perfectly, but -- I do wish there were more 'ordinary' fantasy protagonists who don't turn out to have the souls of dead goddesses in them, or to be princes, or the one who will bring balance to the Force.

Anyway, this book confirmed my massive love for Jemisin all over again. And the ending stomped on my heart a little. I love her narrators, too, and the little twists of why they're telling their stories -- it's a detail people don't always think to put in: why are we being told this story? Who is the audience? And I love that in the third book of the trilogy, narrated by Sieh, he says that he's not going to use those narrative tricks. There's a lovely self-awareness about that aspect of Jemisin's writing.
Profile Image for Ze.
199 reviews
February 2, 2021
I was hesitant to read this second instalment and put it off for months because the protagonist we follow is not the same as the first book and I was not really interested in this changing of perspectives. However, most of the characters from the previous book make an appearance in this one even if at first our protagonist does not recognise them and we as readers can only assume it is them based on what we know about them.

That being said I think I enjoyed following Oree much more than Yeine even though both stories were equally enthralling. Oree for me was more level–headed, rational and empathising which made me in turn empathise with her predicament that much more.

Without giving too much away, there is a certain “villainous” character from the first book that his actions get slightly rationalised. He is not redeemed in any shape or form but we do get to see his perspective on what happened. He does not get excused and the only reason I felt sad about the whole situation he gets in is because our main character suffers along with him.

The story felt to me much more contained than the first one and ultimately I cared more about how the characters’ life would pan out than about the actual storyline. Jemisin has created such a unique world and the way she approaches the realm of Gods is remarkable and unlike anything I’ve ever read.

The end brought me to tears but I can understand why everything had to conclude that way. It has a certain bittersweet quality.

It must be noted that our protagonist is blind but I cannot speak on the representation of the disability. From my limited perspective I thought it was handled with care.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,971 reviews1,180 followers
December 1, 2018
thoughts after re-reading@2018:

Like Robin Hobb, N. K. Jemisin is one of the few fantasy novelist with peerless world building skill, insight and story telling talent. Her fantasy world is so well construed that it takes a life of its own as the story develops and it grows and expands as you follow the characters through their journeys. And the gods/godlings in the story, they are such a bunch of fascinating characters!!! Jemisin has to be one of the few authors who can write gods/godlike beings so well, with so much imagination!

original review:

This is even better than the first book!!! I absolutely love how the author handles the desire and relationships among gods and mortals, and the family business within the 'family' of the Three and the godlings! Plus this lady's imagination honestly puts a great deal of 'fantasy novelists' into shame! 4.5 stars! *jumps to read the finale of the trilogy*
Profile Image for Alex Fayle.
Author 7 books18 followers
May 8, 2011
Although I’ve never thought about writing epic, god-infused, politcal/family intrigues, I love reading them when well done. Part drama, part soap opera, part mystery, and part commentary on society, all with a fantasy sheen. What’s not to love?

N.K. Jemisin’s debut novels The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms offer it all. And what’s more, they’re accessible because the main character is a (relatively) normal person thrust into something they neither understand nor particularly want to be involved in, but not in the prophesized “Chosen one” manner of cliché. Jemisin takes what could be considered trite ideas and twists them into something entirely new.

And, even better, unlike so many of the new YA heroines I’ve seen recently, neither of Jemisin’s protagonists is a reactive, passive woman. In this second novel, the blind artist Oree finds herself in the middle of a war on the gods. Many of the gods around her are streetlevel godlings and there’s no court for Oree to eventually rule. She’s an ordinary citizen and that works best for this story because she’s not privy to things that people at court, any court, would know. So, again, as readers we can put ourselves in her shoes and wonder, rage, hurt, and love along with her.

But let’s go back to the idea of active heroines. What makes these two books particularly captivating is that these women choose, act and plan. While they make mistakes, they’re dragged around by forces stronger than they are, and they react to other people’s actions, that’s not ALL they do. When thrust into worlds and plots that they do not want to be a part of, they do what’s required to get out. They don’t wait for anyone to save them. Yes, they are both saved at various points by men (or male gods), but at no point does either of them come across as a helpless female. They’re real women, not some image of passivity that so many cultures (including our own) hold up as a paragon of feminity.

As I read more YA fiction (although these books aren’t really YA even if Yeine is only 19 and Oree mid-20s), I see a distressing pattern. The big blockbuster sellers (aside from Rowling) mostly give us whiny girls who do nothing but complain about how unfair life is. It’s become normal for me to be surprised and wowed when I come across a strong, balanced female character.

When I do I grab onto her and dive into her story with fervor because there’s nothing better than seeing a strong, real woman finding her way in a vivid unreal world.

Of course, it also helps that Jemisin is a kick-ass storyteller.

P.S. I could also go on for a while about the diversity in these books – and not diversity for the sake of it or to promote a specific theme or message – there are different types of people in the book because there are different types of people in the world. The diversity advances the story without being the reason for the story. In other words, in her fantasy realm, Jemisin delivers us the real world.
Profile Image for Forrest.
122 reviews7 followers
May 27, 2011
What a difference a book makes. When I reviewed Jemisin’s freshman work, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, I noted that while she had an eye for interesting subject matter, but was exceedingly hampered by a lack of practical experience. Just one book later, Jemisin has successfully cast off her reliance on an irregular narrative, and crafted a compelling plot that doesn’t rely on an enormous plot twist to wrap its story up. Broken Kingdoms pulls together the best aspects of its prequel, and discards all the unneeded dross that was holding the series down.

The Broken Kingdoms picks up ten years after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. After a brief lead-in where we see the climactic conclusion of the prequel from another perspective, we follow Oree to the remade city of Shadow, formerly called Sky. The rebirth of the Grey Lady has not only remade the capitol of the Kingdoms, but also radically changed its culture. No longer is the lone God of the Bright worshiped above all, and the mysterious godlings have returned from their banishment. Oree, gifted with the ability to see magic, makes a home for herself in Shadow, but we don’t join her until ten years have passed.

The story of the book isn’t surprising if you’ve read the first one. The answers to the riddles that Oree faces are almost painfully obvious to the reader, but her narrative is still appealing and she is a strong sympathetic figure. The Broken Kingdoms makes a very smart choice and doesn’t rely on its gods as much as protagonists. Even in their enslaved states, their nearly omnipotent machinations damaged the flow of Yeine’s story. Oree only has to contend with some surprisingly passive godlings, who are on the defensive because of the murders.

About the only thing Jemisin does worse this time around is the climax. Events draw themselves to a pretty nice conclusion and things get wrapped up, but the book goes on for another chapter and, like all terrible movie trilogies, sets up the concluding volume. It’s a really awkward couple of pages with two significant timeskips and a very rushed relationship between Oree and Shiny. The promise of a really interesting conflict in a third book is intriguing, but it could have been handled just as well by a separate preview chapter.

While I still feel that Jemisin’s work isn’t terribly deserving of all the praise it has been receiving, there is a strong kernel of good writing here that has developed over two books and promises to improve with the third.
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
628 reviews382 followers
July 27, 2016
TEN-THOUSAND (okay, ten) QUICK THOUGHTS ON The Broken Kingdoms

1. Second instalments in trilogies have a bum rep. I didn't think it was as good as the first one, but it isn't a bad fantasy novel, and it is still fun.

2. This is a story set in the same world as The Ten Thousand Kingdoms. In an intelligent move, Jemisin decided to switch the focus of the story from the Arameri upper crust of the first novel to the common folk.

3. Where The Ten Thousand Kingdoms left off, this story picks up with the being a knob. It was a smart move to let the reader see this character from the viewpoint of the lead POV character Oree.

4. Oree is blind, so I couldn't help but think of the depiction of blindness in All the Light We Cannot See. Part of Oree's "gifts" make this portrayal of blindness fall a bit flat for me, but it could be that I was unfairly comparing the two novels.

5. Jemisin keeps fooling me into reading romance novels by cloaking them in her intelligently built world. Thing is, I keep coming back for more. Glad to see her continue to put her own stamp on the genre.

6. Speaking of the world, I couldn't help but compare to some of the world building of another fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson. Where Sanderson builds complex magic systems that adhere to strict and exhaustive rules, Jemisin lays down a few basic rules, but lets in a lot more off-the-wall wonder and peculiarity. Not saying one is better than the other, just different.

7. Once again, this series continues to be a lovely respite from heavy duty literature. I feel that I am guaranteed a fun ride when I pick up the omnibus volume to run through one of the novels. Oh, and a reminder that the omnibus is an exceptionally economical way to acquire this series.

8. Nitpicking: where's my map of the world? I expect at least a rudimentary map in all my fantasy novels, and there's none to be found here. It would have been helpful to help orient myself a bit better in the world.

9. Despite the whole blindness thing not quite working, I enjoyed Oree. She was a different character from Yeine, but continues on the trend of badass female leads established in the first part of the trilogy.

10. Final thoughts: the end makes me question the book's overall importance. Where the first book flipped the table on the established power structure, this ending was more personal. I like that for the novel, but it makes me question where the story will go next.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,578 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.