Review: “The Awakened Kingdom,” N.K. Jemisin

Pros: Delightful!
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

N.K. Jemisin’s fantasy novella The Awakened Kingdom (Inheritance Book 4) is a three-hundred-years-later follow-on to the three books of the Inheritance Trilogy. The Three have finally created a new godling to take Sieh’s place. Little Shill tries so hard to live up to this, trying her hand at tricks and pranks, but they never work out quite right and she always feels badly afterwards. She just can’t live up to Sieh’s legacy. Her parents make it clear that they want her to grow into her own life, and then they turn her loose. But her first foray into the mortal realm nearly ends in disaster. Her scary older sibling Ia wants her to leave the mortal realm until she gains more wisdom, but how can she learn to behave properly in the mortal realm if she can’t study it from the inside? He grudgingly takes her to find an enulai, a demon charged with minding godlings while they walk the mortal realm. But she becomes fixated on Eino, a young man of the Darr. He’s a demon and she wants him to be her enulai, but he’s male, and Darr males are supposed to marry and raise children and protect their families. Shill ends up getting involved in Eino’s argument with his grandmother, who’s trying to marry him off to another enulai–but other people have taken notice of Eino’s attitude “problems”, and they aren’t likely to be as forgiving as his grandmother is.

Shill’s narrative voice is so utterly amazing! I can’t think of a better way to get across the energy, drive, and innocence of this particular child-godling. I delighted in reading it.

Also, don’t go in black holes, no matter how much they look like cute little Nahas. They are not cute! They are actually very bitey and kind of mean.

As in each of the previous books, this one ends up exploring some of the metaphysics of the world and the mortals and gods within it. Shill has to find herself, her purpose, and her affinity, and figure out what to do with it. All without toasting either herself or the mortals around her. And since she’s an awfully powerful godling, that’s a tall order!

Even though this is a novella, and thus much shorter than the three novels that precede it, I loved it just as much as the other books. The length is appropriate to the story being told. We get to see the Three again, as well as a godling we haven’t seen since early on, and Ia, who’s new. He has plenty of personality to him, and is dangerous in his own right.

Now that this series has come to an end, I’ll have to dig up more of Ms. Jemisin’s books. They’re just so deliriously amazing!

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