Tag Archives: The Inheritance trilogy

Favourite Fantasy Worlds – Part 2

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I posted my first five Favourite Fantasy Worlds a few weeks ago, so here are the next group. All of these worlds are well developed, nicely complex and provide satisfying backdrops for the stories. It’s no accident they are all series. One of the reasons I really enjoy multi-book story arcs is the extra layers of detail that can be built into the worldbuilding.

The Glass Thorns series by Melanie Rawn
This original, remarkable series is set in the equivalent age of the Tudors, with horse-drawn conveyances Touchstoneand charts the fortunes of a magical travelling theatre company. In the first book, Touchstone, they form their group and the next three books in the series records their highs and lows as they steadily get more prosperous and successful. Though that brings its own pressures. The glass thorns of the series title, are the drugs the actors dose themselves with, in order to heighten their emotions – or help them relax after the excitement of performance. I eagerly await each book and so far, have not been disappointed at the unfolding drama of these enormously talented, difficult people battling to produce their best work in less than ideal circumstances.

The Worlds of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones
This series of books covers the adventures of the state-appointed enchanter Chrestomanci, who is taskedCharmedLife with keeping law and order amongst the magical community. I have read most of these books to my granddaughter, after having devoured them myself several decades ago – my favourite is Charmed Life. And rereading them aloud has not only proved they can stand the test of time, but increased my respect at the quality of the writing, the crafting of the story arcs and the sheer quirky genius of Jones’ imagination. Yes – I know they are supposed to be for children, but give them a go if you appreciate magical mayhem. They are a joy for any age group.

The Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong
nohumansinvolvedThis world is extensively portrayed in the thirteen-book series, with a number of accompanying novellas and short stories. It all kicks off with Bitten, where werewolf Clay accidentally bites his girlfriend – and her life is never the same again. But don’t go away with the idea that the series is all about werewolves – it also encompasses witches, necromancers and vampires. In short, anyone who dabbles with the paranormal or magic. Read my review of No Humans Involved. The world is enjoyable – I love the way Armstrong manages to slide from everyday normality into something else.

Einarinn by Juliet E. McKenna
Again, this extensive, detailed world has been produced over a long period of time through several series dangerous watersof books – there are five books within The Tales of Einarinn; four books in The Aldabreshin Compass; three books and a novella in The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution and her latest trilogy, still set within the same world – The Hadrumal Crisis. Juliet provides an excellent explanation of her world on her blog. They are all great reads – but my personal favourites are The Aldabreshin Compass series and The Hadrumal Crisis – see my review of Dangerous Waters.

The Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
thehundredthousandkingdomsThis is an extraordinary series – particularly the first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms which is set in the city Sky where gods and mortal co-exist. See my review here. The book is pervaded by the sense of threat and a feeling that a set of rules apply here that our protagonist needs to know, but doesn’t fully understand. The second book, The Broken Kingdoms had me in tears at the end – and that doesn’t happen all that often, these days. If you like remarkable fantasy on an epic scale focusing on gods, then give it a go.

And there you have it… a few of my favourite fantasy worlds to date. What are your favourite fantastic worlds?

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Review of The Broken Kingdoms – Book 2 of The Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

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The first book in this trilogy, A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, created quite a stir. It’s a sign that a genre is very much alive and kicking when authors tweak the conventions to offer something original and appealing – and that’s what A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms did for epic Fantasy. So in The Broken Kingdoms, does Jemisin manage to sustain that special ‘X’ factor?

In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree thebrokenkingdomsShoth, a blind artist, takes in a strange homeless man on impulse – a decision she begins to doubt when she realises there are hidden depths and powers at work in him. There’s more blurb, but as it moves into Spoiler territory I’m going to pass on it…

Initially, there seemed to be a lot of similarities between the two books – both narrators were young women isolated from any family ties; both of them rapidly find themselves out of their depth, surrounded by a number of beings a whole lot more powerful and deadly than they are; both possess more skills and resources than is immediately apparent. Both have an enjoyable narrative voice. Hm… are these books starting to sound waaay too similar?  Actually – no. While all above may be true, there are some important differences.

The backdrop in The Broken Kingdoms is more vivid and varied and while I really enjoyed Yeine Darr as a protagonist, Oree Shoth is even more engaging. Ten years have passed since the events described in A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – which is a smart move, as it means no one has to have read the first book in the trilogy in order to completely understand what is happening in the second instalment. That said, if you have somehow managed to pick up The Broken Kingdoms without reading A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, I would recommend that you track down the first book as I think it will enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of what is going on.

Like all really good writers – and Jemisin is certainly that – she assumes that her readers are bright enough to join up the dots without spelling out every last nuance and allusion. So it becomes interesting to see characters we’ve already got to know well from an entirely different viewpoint.

However, what has this book humming is the vibrant story of Oree and her injured refugee. I’d intended to read a couple of chapters – but Jemisin’s magical prose drew me in and before I knew it, I was nearly at the end of the book. In addition to a cracking plot with various twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, there is Oree’s spiky character. She is an endearing protagonist – a great mix of gritted stubbornness and vulnerability. The supporting cast are a wonderful mix of godlings, gods and driven individuals, whose power and capacity to hold a grudge produce a deadly cocktail of vengeful anger. We are given a ringside seat at an immortal family tragedy from a mortal’s viewpoint, with Oree stuck right in middle of the immortal scrap – a very neat trick to pull off. As an additional treat, following the genre convention, Jemisin isn’t afraid to give us flights of descriptive prose that verges on the poetic.

I was completely drawn into the action – and found the ending moving and appropriate. So, not only does The Broken Kingdoms manage to live up to the promise shown in A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, it surpassed my expectations. If this excellent series has somehow slipped past your radar, I highly recommend it.
10/10