There will be no tricks in this tale. I tell you this so that you can relax. You’ll listen more closely if you aren’t flinching every other instant, waiting for the pratfall. You will not reach the end and suddenly learn I have been talking to my other soul or making a lullaby of my life for someone’s unborn brat. I find such things disingenuous.
I have this imagined thing when I’m trying to read more authors of color where I worry that I’ll reach a point at which there are no more books by authors of color that I want to read. I’ll just be gazing at my TBR list, and absolutely everything on it will be by white authors, and I’ll have to face the fact that my author-ethnicity pie chart is going to become a closed-er and closed-er mouth Pac-Man of whiteness.
This is a crazy fear for a number of reasons, not least of which being that I control what goes on my TBR list so I can definitely avoid this outcome long before it happens. But it’s sort of functioning at a lower level of consciousness where I don’t fully articulate it to myself but I do ration out the books I read by authors of color I already know I like, so that if this baleful circumstance should come to pass, I would still have at least three books loaded up in the chamber ready to save my stats.
As this is objectively deranged, I reminded myself to borrow one of the NK Jemisin books I hadn’t read yet from the library prior to setting out for India. I read it on a cross-country train trip. Whiskey Jenny was sick, and we were both exhausted and filthy because we had done a bike tour of Jaipur in the morning and embarked on a 36-hour train ride in the afternoon without any opportunity for a shower, and people kept stopping by our train car to peer at us, and we were paranoid about it because a tour guide had recently mentioned to us how slutty people in India think American girls are and followed that up a really scary story about a Japanese tourist getting raped as she endeavored to navigate public transportation in Jaipur. Under these circumstances, a lovely fantasy novel like The Kingdom of the Gods was a wonderful escape from reality.
If you’ve read the prior two novels–well, you should definitely read the prior two novels. Jemisin explains what happens in them, but still, you’ll get more out of this one if you’ve read the other two. It’s about Sieh, the god of childhood, the trickster god, who comes to love two mortal children and then, without warning, finds himself suddenly mortal, suddenly subject to aging. Lacking his powers and getting older at an unpredictable rate, Sieh must ally himself with godlings, gods, and mortals to stop another gods’ war more horrifying and fatal than the first.
I love to see writers growing as I progress chronologically through their work. N. K. Jemisin won me over with her worldbuilding and her command of a unique, startling narrative voice. Both those things are still on offer here, but The Kingdom of the Gods also has a more suspenseful and engaging plot than the previous two books in the series, such that I had a hard time putting it down even to go to the loo. (Though in fairness: We were on a train. Nobody wants to use the loo on a train if they do not have to.)