WarningMight contain spoilers.

Not as good as The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but a good story nonetheless. Much more disturbing and gory. I don’t much care for Itempas (or Shiny). Nor do I care about all the painting, either in the chapter titles or in Oree being a painter herself. While a happy ending would have been nice, the one that exists is justified and acceptable.

It feels much reduced in scope: although saving the gods from extinction is the thrust of the plot, the story is really about Oree, Shiny, and a couple of other people. Unfortunately, I don’t feel much for Oree at any point, no matter how painful or tragic the events; I only really feel for the people around her. She and Itempas don’t make a particularly empathetic pair (and the manifestation of their different kinds of magic is always so convenient). Even Lil—horrifying, nightmarish Lil—engages my emotions more than Oree does. Madding’s death is very affecting.

I almost feel N.K. Jemisin’s skills as a writer mask a fundamentally weak story, one curiously set only ten years after the last, allowing for no true change. That said, it’s a clever device to encounter Yeine, Nahadoth, Sieh, et al through new eyes so soon afterwards. It’s simultaneously remarkable and unremarkable that few people know the truth of what happened, remembering the Arameris’ hold on the world: if I recall correctly, it was said they might be able to hang on to power for a generation or two.

Semryn being an Arameri is disappointing. I would have preferred Dateh and her to be more interesting. Meanwhile, Hado’s story feels discordant.

Next in series: (#3 in Thoughts & Spoilers: Books: Inheritance (2010))