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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

February 27, 2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms has two fascinating premises: Enslaved gods being used as the foundation for an empire, and a young woman, Yeine, thrust into a battle for the throne in a nest of hateful political intrigue.

Instead of the typical “Fantasy quest” format, 100K Kingdoms chooses to follow more along the lines of brutal detective fiction – it’s all about secrets, betrayals, forbidden affairs and revenge, revenge, revenge. And this is what makes it work – the story stays strong in the characters and the situation, not falling into fantasy element fanboyism. The characters are all multilayered, with interesting motivations, even the secondary characters.

As I read this book, I could only think more and more to the detective genre, especially as Yeine just finds each answer providing more questions, and the pressure being turned up, each step of the way. Yeine’s portrayal skillfully manages to stay in the space of an intelligent and determined protagonist, yet inexperienced and under extreme pressure – her mistakes are understandable and human.

Bonus: People of color! Gay characters! In fantasy! And it doesn’t have to be “special interest”!

Overall: I highly recommend it! It’s a fun read, has fantastic characters, scary magic, and shady, shady drama.

If I wanted to do this in an RPG

Sorcerer. 100K Kingdoms goes straight for the kind of brutal relationship-map drama out of the Sorcerer’s Soul, the Gods work just like unhappy demons who are tired of being bound, and Humanity is basic human empathy towards others – something in short supply in the book.

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