The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin
In the city of Shadow, blind artist Oree makes a living selling trinkets in the local market. Her secret—that she can see magic—is hidden, but her secrets are about to be revealed when a godling is found murdered in the alley behind her stall. Everything points to Oree and her new, mysterious houseguest, but is it him the murderers want…or her?
I enjoyed The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but this one was even better!
This picks up about ten or so years after Yeine unlocks her power, and deals with the aftermath of freeing the godlings and reincarnating the third god.
At first glance, Oree is nothing special: she’s an artist, she’s blind, and she ekes out a living that’s comfortable but not wealthy.
Then as her layers are pulled away, more is revealed. She can see magic, particularly the magic of the gods, and can wield magic herself in the form of beautiful paintings that mix colors no one has ever seen before. She has a godling bedmate, and her mysterious houseguest glows gold every sunrise.
I really like how this book delved into the implications of a third goddess rising back into the pantheon, the godlings themselves being released from their slavery, and the Arameri elite losing their near-god status and power over their godling-slaves.
And I liked that the world opened up even further to reveal the people of Shadow, the city beneath the World Tree, and all of its politicking and livelihood. And that the magical world of the Inheritance trilogy (damn that trilogy name is really…telling) was expanded upon, as other magical beings were revealed and explored, and past hurts and evils were opened up.
Where Hundred Thousand Kingdoms explores the crimes of the past and how they affect and influence the present and future, this one takes that exploration and electrocutes it. So much is revealed, and so many things that happened Before affect the now of this book, and how everyone and everything relate.
Yes, this review is 100% based upon vagueness and circumlocution (10 points to me for my ~fancy~ vocab), but you’re just going to have to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and then this one. Although technically you could probably get away with just reading this one, as it’s kinda a stand-alone and kinda not. Oree explains most everything that happened in the first book, so it’s really more of a companion novel than a sequel. But it does take lots of fantasy tropes and messes with them, and also there are cults!
Who can resist a book with scary death cults in it?