I didn’t start reading fantasy until quite late on, I think I started with The Lord of the Rings, but, while each fantasy store differs from the next and some have surprising aspects, they largely follow a similar pattern of being based in some sort of pseudo-medieval landscape, or some similar period from history. Not so with this The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
In this world gods and mortals interact on a daily, physical basis. In Sky, the capital, the ruling Arameri rule with an iron fist under the power of Itempas, one of three supreme gods who created the universe and all life. In the great war the three gods battled and Itempas fought his older brother Nahadoth and his younger sister Enefa, whom he killed. He imprisoned Nahadoth in a mortal body for eternity as punishment for taking side against him, along with all of the semi-gods they created.
The Arameri were rewarded for their faith in Itempas during the war and any Arameri with blood close enough to the ruling line can command the enslaved gods, using them to do their bidding, usually as weapons. The only other people who can wield magic are the Scriveners. The power of the gods keeps the other kingdoms in order.
Succession is coming though, the current ruler is dying and his daughter, who abdicated to be with the man she loved, a ‘babarian’ from the north, is killed and so his granddaughter, Yeine Darr, is called back to Sky and marked as a possible heir, along with two of her cousins. In Sky, being marked in this way generally makes your life shorter.
I’ve never read a story where mortals interact with gods, especially not when they appear, largely, mortal. That’s on aspect of the story though, which also centres on Yeine’s desire for revenge, the gods’ plan to rest control back from Itempas and the political manoeuvring of the Arameri heirs.
While the story is completely different to anything else I have read it did seem a bit of a struggle to get through. It was complex and twisted, a story complicated enough to have been real history, but I didn’t find it very engaging, it didn’t drive me to read it, to not put it down. This was the author’s debut novel though, and the book will form part of a trilogy, so possibly worth giving the next ones a go.