Review: “The Kingdom of Gods,” N.K. Jemisin

Pros: Stunning conclusion to the trilogy
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

N.K. Jemisin’s The Kingdom of Gods (The Inheritance Trilogy, Book 3) is a worthy successor to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms–which were stunning novels in their own right! The final book in the trilogy takes place a few generations after we left off. This time, our point-of-view character is Sieh, the trickster god of childhood, the eldest of the children of the Three. Two Arameri children, twins Shahar and Dekarta, stumble across Sieh in the bowels of Sky. Although he’s still quite dangerous, the three of them strike up an odd sort of friendship. When they take a blood oath to cement this friendship, everything goes wrong. Sieh wakes up years later to find himself aging–and becoming mortal. Shahar is the heir to the current Arameri ruler, and Deka has been sent off to become a Scrivener. Remath, the current ruler and the twins’ mother, decides it might be useful to be allies with a godling, and assigns her own daughter to keep him happy. Meanwhile, Sieh finds the population of Arameri severely dwindled, and comes to believe some godling must be defying Yeine in order to kill the Arameri. When Shahar betrays Sieh, he flees to the city of Shadow below Sky and the World Tree. Soon Sieh’s past comes back to haunt him, and it could put the entire world at risk.

Sieh makes a fascinating point-of-view character. We’ve seen him in the previous two books, but this really gives us a look inside of his head. He’s existed for millennia, so his childlike demeanor is the nature of the godling in him, not a mark of age. This becomes extremely difficult for him to come to terms with as he begins to age. And when he comes into contact with things that are antithetical to his nature, he sometimes ages fast. He’s a complex character with sometimes-subtle motivations. Shahar and Dekarta are also excellent characters. They’re both Arameri, so they’ve been raised to be ruthless and murderous. But Shahar determines from the start that she wants to be a “good” person, and Deka seems to be a gentle soul when Sieh meets him. They grow into complex and fascinating characters, and the relationships in this triangle are equally complex and fascinating as they all age and change.

Plenty of other characters from the previous books put in an appearance. Each of the Three wants to find a way to “fix” whatever is happening to Sieh. Nahadoth’s human “prison” (he was calling himself Hado in book two) returns, as do some of the godlings like Lil and Nemmer. We’ve moved on far enough temporally that you won’t recognize the mortals, however.

There are some fantastic battle scenes in here. Some are swift and hard; others stretch out a bit. All are tense and engrossing. I couldn’t help worrying over the fates of my favorite characters. As usual for this series–if anything can be termed “usual”–earth-shaking events and changes occur.

There’s some mild sexual content, and it’s lovely that it’s of both opposite-sex and same-sex varieties. (Gender doesn’t mean the same thing to gods and godlings that it does to mortals–after all, the seemingly-male gods Itempas and Nahadoth have had children together.)

Altogether this series is heartbreakingly lovely, sometimes even devastating, and I can’t wait to read more by N.K. Jemisin!

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