Triggers: Mild Swearing
Look, if you’ve been around on the internet, you’ll have heard a lot about this first book in the inheritance series. I’m not going to go over what’s been said before: what this book is, who wrote it, what it’s mostly about, why any of this is significant. If you’d like a look at some informative reviews that do that without falling into the spoiler trap, check these out: http://www.rantingdragon.com/the-hundred-thousand-kingdoms-inheritance-1-by-n-k-jemisin/ https://www.sfsite.com/03a/ht315.htm as well as the more horse’s mouth version from the author’s own website:http://nkjemisin.com/books/the-inheritance-trilogy/the-hundred-thousand-kingdoms/ and finally GoodReads, which, as always has more reviews of the work than you can shake a stick at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6437061-the-hundred-thousand-kingdoms (It occurs to me that if you were to print out all the writing thats happened in 2014 ABOUT The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and make it into a book of its own, it would probably by longer, fatter and heavier than the original!)
So why am I telling you all this, in the Dead Days (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Dead_Days) between christmas and new year, when no-one really bothers with blogs anyway? Well, it’s only in times like this, dead times, slow times, that the big thoughts are allowed to percolate out. You need a quiet space, were there are few distractions to get around to having thunk deeply.
When I fell in love with and then finished this book, I knew that I wanted to say something about it on the net. Not a review, because a) I’m tired of reviews just for the moment and b) because lots of other people have already done it way better than I could have.
What I do want to say is this: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is fantasy for a new generation.
My mom has been reading fantasy since she was a little girl, and is far better read than I am. I generally gauge the quality of new authors and series that I find by how willing I am to bring it home to her, on how much I think she’ll like it. That’s because I cut my teeth on the masters of traditional fantasy forms, Tolkein, Le Guin, Mckinley, Mcillip, Cooper that my mom had given to me. She set pretty high standards.
So, when I come across a new work that masterfully weaves the familiar story paces, forms and figures into a captivating world, I rush it straight home to my folks, because I know my mom will love it as much as I did.
I’m too nervous to take The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms home. Not because its not good, no-one can argue that its not the other side of competant when it comes to prose, voice, story-construction or any of the other technical aspects of craft. Nor, because it has sex in it (my mom grew up on late ’60s sci-fi. Have you READ late ’60s sci-fi? More fucking than you can shake a stick at). Nor, because I didn’t love it. I loved it, but you knew that.
I was nervous to show it to her, becuase its way of telling a magical story with a human progatonist was new. No longer is the reader offered vistas of childlike awe at the vastness and majesty of the ‘verse, like Cooper, Tolkein and Le Guin are so good at. We’re no longer kids looking up at the stars in this book. Here we are adults, for whom the wonderous, while we can appreciate it, must very quickly become ordinary, SO THAT WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
For a generation of young adults, growing up in an age of the everyday awesome: http://www.ted.com/talks/scott_summit_beautiful_artificial_limbs and the mundane marvel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9EuJ9QlikY and with more of both than we can digest: https://cyanseagulls.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/slowing-down-seriously-now-people/
but which is the substrate that we live and move and have our being, so we must interact with it, this is a fantasy story for us.