The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
When northerner Yeine is summoned to the city of Sky after her mother’s death, she had no idea she would be named one of the heirs to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. But the city of Sky is deadly, and the other two heirs aren’t willing to give up their seats of power.
N.K. Jemisin is one of the best SFF writers, and this was one of her earlier works. I knew going in that this was going to turn fantasy tropes on their heads and make me uncomfortable with surgical precision, and it definitely did.
The worldbuilding is absolutely incredible.
Yeine is fascinating, as are all of the gods and goddesses and the nobility—the good, the bad, the downright nasty.
This book examines how absolute power corrupts absolutely, among other things. And how past trauma continues on to present generations, because history never truly exists in the past, and it’s never singular.
I won’t go into more detail, because honestly the less you know going in, the better.
Also, be prepared to be thinking “wtf is going on??” for a solid couple chapters. Some of it feels like stereotypical fantasy, and then the twists start happening. Just be prepared to question everything, and settle in for the weird and wonderful and uncomfortable.
And the audiobook is amazing.