The Inheritance Trilogy | Book Series Review
An author that's crept up my wishlist this year has definitely been N. K. Jemisin. Ever since the beginning of the year (or maybe even last year) I've been seeing her books everywhere, with very high praises and from people whose opinion I really value, seen as their reading tastes usually align with mine. So I knew I needed to read her books, and I decided to start with her debut: The Inheritance Trilogy. This will be a spoiler-free series review because, as soon as I started this, I knew I'd want to talk about it with everyone.
This trilogy consists of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods and a sequel novella, The Awakened Kingdom. I confess that I went into it knowing only that this was a god-centred fantasy story and I loved seeing this world and story unravel. This is set in the world of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, a kingdom ruled by the Arameri race, people who got their power by wielding and unleashing the power of the gods they control. This world knocked me off my feet in a way I did not anticipate and it was beautifully crafted, leaving me speechless and giving me my favourite reaction while reading a book: how did this author's mind conjure this up?
The first book follows Yeine, the granddaughter of the king, summoned to the capital in the pretence that she'll become one of the possible heirs of the kingdom. There she's looking to uncover the secrets surrounding her mother's death and ends up deep into the court and godly politics. This was my favourite of the series simply because it blew me away. I love stories focused on politics and the way N. K. Jemisin explored all the power dynamics between gods and humans, the twists and turns, and the sheer brilliance of this world was incredible to me. I fell in love with the characters and was deeply invested in their lives. My heart was wrenching and worried about where the story was going to go and all I wanted to do was read this to find out what was going to happen. This was a brilliant introduction to this world and the characters and a marvellous introduction to Jemisin's writing as well.
Then we have the sequel, The Broken Kingdoms. This is set ten years after the events of the first book and it follows Oree, a blind girl that can see magic who's recently moved to the capital. I also really loved the cast of characters for this one but, for me personally, nothing will ever compare to the characters we follow in book one. I adored how this expanded the world and further explored the relationship between the gods and the mortals, as well as the much bigger cast of characters who brought a lot of dynamic and depth to the story. The story was also marvellous but it was much more political focused than the first one, with less action. The way we could see the impacts of the ending of the first book and how this changed the world was beautiful and handled really well. I loved the new nuances this brought to this fantasy setting and how it paved the way for the last book to come, in a more subtle way than the first book.
The third and final book of this series is set about a hundred years after the second one and it follows the most exciting narrator, one of the gods we've accompanied since the book one. He's probably my favourite character in this series so as soon as I saw that we were following his perspective, I was thrilled. However, even with all the incredible twists, this was the one that blew me away the least. It expanded the world leaving a possibility to create new stories after that and I adored that we were inside a god's head, seen as their thought processes and ways of handling things are so different from mortals. I just didn't connect as much with the story but I loved how this concluded things and wrapped it all up in an incredibly satisfying way. I also loved how, as the series progresses, we see a deeper bond forming between gods and mortals, and this was the one that made this the most apparent, bringing deeper shades to the story.
Lastly, we have the sequel novella, The Awakened Kingdom. This is set a couple of centuries after the last book and follows a new god, one that's merely a month old, as she's discovering her nature and how the mortal realm works. I think I would've liked this much more if I'd read this series as it was coming out because this would've brought me the joy of being back in this world. As it was, I didn't really see a point in this story besides making further social commentary and exploring the birth of a god which Jemisin hadn't really been able to explore in the other books before. I think she did an incredible job with the voice of the narrator, but I didn't fully get the point of this one. It was enjoyable but nothing as exciting as I'd come to expect from this world.
I think what N. K. Jemisin does best is weave real-world social issues with a fantastical setting, twist them in their head, and give you lightbulb-social commentary moments. This series is incredibly diverse, with people of colour making up the majority of the characters, exploring gender identity and gender fluidity in the most flawless way, and having female characters taking the lead throughout every one of the books. I absolutely loved the world she created, it was so magical and beautifully detailed, and her characters felt like real-life people (even the gods). All books explored what people and gods will do and how far they'll go to get power. It was also a great analysis of the difference in nature between gods and mortals, and how each has intricate nuances and adapt in their own ways. She also deeply explores how not everything is black and white but it's in fact multiple shades of grey, bringing to light the idea of good and evil in both the god and the mortal realms.
Besides the captivating characters, what really shines is the worldbuilding and the writing. More than the plot itself, I was just in awe of how real this world felt. One thing that I desperately wanted though (and maybe other editions have this, I don't know) was a map of this world. I just like fantasy maps and think this would've added a lot to the story. Overall I gave this series 4/5 ⭐️. My favourite book was definitely the first but I cannot wait to read everything Jemisin's ever written. Highly recommend this book and this world. If you've read this series/are interested in reading this series, let me know! And if you've read N. K. Jemisin, what's your favourite book of hers?