Monday, August 1, 2011

New fave author: N. K. Jemisin

It started a few months ago. I saw a tweet by Felicia Day (a pop culture geek goddess, though I've only ever seen her Whedonverse work) recommending it, especially for the strong female characters. The first book of Jemisin's Inheritance Series trilogy, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, happened to be on sale as an e-book for about $3 so I bought it. See a tweet, download an e-book from home. I felt like I was living in the future!

Jemisin's created a very interesting world where there are gods, godlings, humans, power struggles, love, hate, action, wisdom. I guess it would count as fantasy, as there is magic, coming from the gods. In terms of plot, there was a war among the three gods that resulted in one god becoming dominant, another killed, and the third enslaved to the human ruling family.

Yeine, the heroine of book one, has been summoned to the capitol because she's in the running to inherit the ruling crown (not that there's a literal crown). She's been raised in another part of the country/ another kingdom where the women are the warriors. Her claim to the crown comes from her mother who left the capitol and married a man from a different culture. So Yeine has lots of challenges due to a different cultural upbringing, being the upstart, being the reluctant participant in the intrigues among the humans and gods.

Up to the end, it's not clear who's going to get the crown and what's going to happen to Yeine.

Jemison does a great job describing the different cultures and ethnicities of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (we only really see one), by describing hair texture and color, describing freckles, skin color. And I love that Yeine is a strong female character (as is Oree, heroine of the second book The Broken Kingdoms), and they don't resort to physical violence. Yeine, the trained warrior, uses her head first to figure things out, and to think about the consequences of using violence. I know! When's the last time you saw that?

Also, it's clear that Yeine is of a brown ethnicity and Oree definitely of African descent. Except that the Kingdoms aren't on earth, so there's no Africa.

NK Jemisin's website is really interesting also, with posts about gender and race in speculative fiction (new term for sci-fi/fantasy? I like it) and creating cultures for the books, and other stuff. It's right up my alley.

Stayed up late reading book 2, so happy book 3 is out later this year.

Now off to look up the manga and anime she references as her influences.

ETA: This morning I sent a tweet to @feliciaday, thanking her for the recommendation and tagged @nkjemisin in it as well. Then at lunch, I get a tweet back from FDay saying she's glad I liked the books, do I know when the next one is out? *squeeeeee!* So I looked it up on NKJ's site and wrote back to FDay. I may also have squeed a little. Fortunately in the tweet back saying thanks for the info, FDay overlooked the squeeage.


No comments: