The Kingdom of Gods (N.K. Jemisin 2011)

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The Kingdom of Gods is the final book in the Inheritance Trilogy, a trilogy of romantic fantasy books which I’ve been slowly slugging my way through. The book follows on from the plot of the previous two books, following the politics surrounding the gods and the powerful Arameri family. In a break from the established pattern, the book follows a recurring character Sieh rather than a fresh female protagonist, as was typical of the previous books. Yet in typical fashion the book revolves heavily around his romantic interludes. However the world appears to be on the brink of war and the Amareri family is on the verge of collapse. We also has to deal with the growing problem of the Maelstrom, from which all gods are created, as well as his newfound mortality.

The most notable aspect of the book is the protagonist. I was initially lead to believe from the blurb that the woman Shahar Arameri was going to be the protagonist of the book so I was surprised to find that we were in fact following Sieh, a recurring godling character, a major character in the previous two books. As a character he seemed a bit bratty, similar to previous books, but there is a complexity to his character that makes him stand out as a protagonist. If anything he is an improvement on previous protagonists, whom I thought to be too passive so in some respects I feel that the author has become aware of the problems with said protagonist. He is still a bit of a brat but compared to the previous protagonists he is novel and unique.

The book does however fall a bit flat to me despite this. The main thing for me was the plot. The book has notably tried to break away from its romance element in favour of a plot revolving around Sieh and his mortality, with Shahar being an afterthought for a lot of the novel. In most ordinary circumstances I would consider the addition of a proper plot to a series like this to be an improvement. The problem is that the plot is so damn convoluted. There are frequent time skips throughout the novel, sometimes for years or decades at a time. After a while everything just got so convoluted that my brain just kind of switched off. All I remember is something about Sieh having a son, who happens to be the novel’s antagonist, whose origins I still can’t understand.

Basically this book is the definition of complex. It seems like N.K. Jemisin has gone into overdrive to make up for the boring generic plots of their previous books. I was confused by quite a lot of aspects, including the relationships. One aspect that bugged me was Sieh’s relationships with Shahar and her brother Dekarta. The books are no stranger to complexities to relationships, with Itempas’ feelings for his brother Nahadoth serving as a crucial plot element to the second book. I should probably say that it is the incestuous overtones which seem to bug me rather than Sieh’s affair with the male Dekarta, since Sieh seems to harbour feelings for both siblings in some capacity, though the complex nature of the plot means I could easily have misunderstood something. My problem is that it seems a bit messed up to have a love triangle where two siblings are a central part. The addition of the second romance also made me confused as to who Sieh’s main love interest for the book was supposed to be, which was annoying. If the story had stuck with just Shahar or Dekarta as the main love interest throughout the story I would have no issues with the story’s romantic subplot, but like many aspects of this story I can’t help but feel like it gets needlessly convoluted.

Overall I actually liked this novel less than the others. The plot was just too complex for me to follow and I actually found it more annoying than the previous books in that regard. I’ll admit that the affair with Dekarta was an interesting twist but the circumstances and plot surrounding it made me harder to get behind it and it is a part of the novel that I wish received greater attention. I always said that the novels in the Inheritance had slivers of potential but grew flat, and this is no exception. If anything it disappoints more than the previous novels. If anything I’m just glad I got through the series. Now to go to donate the trilogy to the local charity shop in hopes that somebody enjoys this more than I did.

SCORE: 3/5

IN A WORD: LACKLUSTER

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