I read and very much enjoyed the first two books, and reviewed The Broken Kingdoms here. Jemisin has chosen to focus on different characters in each book, though there are narrative threads and characters connecting all three. In the final book, we see the social consequences of the changes from the first two, as the ruling Arameri family begins to lose their absolute power over the world, a world that has some complaints over how they’ve been treated.
This one is narrated by the godling Sieh, who was one of my favorites from the earlier books. He’s an unapologetic child, complete with playfulness, petulance, pranks, and more. In this book, he stumbles upon a pair of Arameri children, plays with them, debates killing them, and instead grants them friendship … and that’s where everything goes wrong.
Sieh begins to turn mortal. He ages. The further he gets from childhood, the more of his power he loses. He’s forced to survive as a mortal, eventually finding a role as a messenger/spy in the developing conflict with the Arameri, a conflict which reveals a new kind of magic and new players from Sieh’s own past … which I can’t really get into without spoiling things.
It’s hard wrapping up a series, and Jemisin aimed high with this one, pulling together mythological plotlines and changes that affect the entire world she’s built up. While I felt like there were rough patches in terms of plot and pacing, I prefer a book that aims high and occasionally stumbles to one that aims for mediocre and succeeds.
I think my biggest problem was lack of information. We don’t find out what’s really happening with Sieh until pretty much the last page. There were other aspects where it felt like the mystery stretched on too long as well, and it’s harder to stay invested when I don’t understand what’s going on.
That said, I still enjoyed the book. I really like the eventual ending with Sieh, and I love that Jemisin allowed her world and her characters to change so much. I like Sieh’s character, his so-human mischievous side as well as the divine side that’s both curse and blessing. I very much appreciate Jemisin’s matter-of-fact approach to Sieh’s sexuality as well, and the relationship he develops throughout the book. And I like that she doesn’t shy away from the darker side of war and politics, both on a global scale and a personal one.
Finally, the glossary in the back is AWESOME!!!, thanks to some creative annotations by Sieh.
I recommend everyone should at least read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon], the first book in the trilogy. If you enjoyed that, you should definitely read the rest. Even if the final book isn’t perfect (and what book is?), it’s an impressive work of writing, and an ambitious end to an ambitious trilogy.
For those of you who’ve read it, what did you think?