N. K. Jemisin hits her stride in The Broken Kingdoms, the second installment of The Inheritance Trilogy. Set in the city Shadow ten years after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010), the book reprises the history of the godlings and involves a mortal in a murder mystery with vast implications. The trilogy's conclusion, The Kingdom of the Gods, will be published later in 2011.
The Story: "I am, you see, a woman plagued by gods," explains Oree Shoth, the blind artist at the center of The Broken Kingdoms. Having previously been romantically involved with a "godling," one of the capricious immortals who inhabit Shadow (after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms), Oree knows a thing or two about them. But she can hardly be prepared for the sight of one rising from a garbage heap. Because Oree can transcend her blindness to see magic, she understands from the first the nature of this odd creature, whom she calls "Shiny." She takes the man home with her, but what begins as an act of kindness becomes a race for time as godlings start turning up dead across the city.
Orbit. 416 pages. $13.99. ISBN: 9780316043960
Fantasy Book Review
"The second book takes everything Jemisin did well in the first book--creating a believable, tangible world, setting up social and political dynamics to play off of, and using one woman's experiences to tell a broader story--expands it, and improves on it. ... A limited criticism I have with the book is that it introduces important characters in Oree's life and then, soon into the book, drops them to never return." Brian Herstig
"Oree is a very likable character, compassionate with a lot of inner strength, and I rather liked her unique magic. ... The Broken Kingdoms had everything I loved about the first book in the trilogy--an absorbing story, an intriguing setting and world mythology, and a likable narrator with a compelling voice."
"The second time around ... the story works even better than it did in the first book, and not just because Jemisin is a more experienced storyteller. ... It's the set up for a really great mystery, but Jemisin manages to turn it into a thought-provoking, haunting story about the difference between loving gods as a worshipper and loving them as an actual lover, and whether you can really understand the gods." Charlie Jane Anders
Speculative Book Review
"The world has expanded outwards from the palace environs into a wider urban setting yet the characters are not diminished by this. ... N. K. Jemisin is fast becoming a writer to watch." Cara Murphy
In The Broken Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin expands her worldview from the Arameri Palace of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms to include the richly drawn tapestry of Shadow, introducing new and interesting characters and layering plot to build anticipation for the trilogy's finale. Critical consensus deems The Broken Kingdoms even better than its predecessor--unusual for the middle book of a trilogy--and Jemisin, who had previously published short fiction, is poised to make a name for herself in fantasy circles (evidenced as well by Hugo and Nebula nominations). Although The Broken Kingdoms works as a stand-alone novel, readers familiar with the first book will recognize and appreciate Jemisin's deftly constructed world. Readers new to the series, however, may wish to start with the first book.