The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (Inheritance, #2)

The Broken Kingdoms is damn good. It's driven by relationships and conversation in a way that could slow down a lesser book, but here every interaction is filled with the weight of the past, whether spoken or unspoken. It knows when to rest and to move

Everyone has a past in a way that makes them feel real, like we have a snapshot of their lives and they were here before and will continue on afterwards. This, to me, is a hallmark of a well-written story with complex characters. Oree and Madding had a relationship in the past which has echoes now, but their current dynamic is clearly different than what it must have been before the story started. Shiny knows various people and gods in ways that speak to past relationships, whether casual or intimate, and we have enough information to inform our understanding of what is unsaid, but without constantly explaining backstory.

In trilogies, especially in series that are intended as trilogies by the time book two is written, there is usually a problem where book two isn't complete enough to stand on its own. Even in series I love, I've noticed this problem, and usually book three makes up for it in terms of the strength of the trilogy as a whole. But not here, book three won't have anything to atone for; The Broken Kingdoms is rich, complex, full enough to stand on its own while also building on the history from The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

Oree feels like a distinct voice from Yeine, in book 1. Her focus is different, her concerns are different, and her approach to obstacles is grittier, more direct. She is functionally blind, and I appreciated how her comparison between the magical sight she does have and what she guesses ordinary sight must be like made sense in context. It would have been easy for her (as a character written by a sighted person) to continually opine on what seeing must be like, but instead she only discusses it when she has magical sight and uses parts of the language around ordinary sight to try and get a better description of the unique manner of her sight.

It felt so good to read this book. I loved every minute of it and I'm very excited for The Kingdom of Gods.

CW for ableism, suicide, sexual assault, slavery, death.

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