The timeline of this second book in the Inheritance Trilogy, called The Broken Kingdoms, doesn’t follow immediately after its predecessor. It begins some ten years later, when the city called Sky has become Shadow.
N.K. Jemisin makes another mortal the main character. Oree Shoth is conflicted and facing challenges just like Yeine Darr was in the first book. And she has relationships with both gods and godlings, again like Yeine. But thankfully, Oree is a strong enough character to stand on her own, and I didn’t spend the entire book comparing her to Yeine.
Like Yeine, Oree is an outsider in Shadow. She’s an immigrant from Maro, now called Maroneh. And she’s also mostly blind. Interestingly, Oree can see the light that is magic but not the everyday human people and things. Oree has made a life for herself in Art Row. She makes trinkets and memorabilia for the pilgrims who come to worship Imtempas at the World Tree. Her friends watch out for her, and she has a special connection to a godling called Madding.
Writing much beyond this will become plot spoilers, and I’m committed to being spoiler-free. I will say that The Broken Kingdoms is a more personal story than The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It’s very much about Oree’s journey, without significant political strategy and wrangling. In fact, for many chapters I wondered how the two stories fit together. But in the end Jemisin makes it all clear, and it’s definitely compelling.
Because the setting and time period are different, Jemisin must again work at world building. And her vision is just as detailed and imaginative this time around. Many things have changed, yet her main characters both struggle for a sense of home and purpose. Truthfully, I like Oree better than I liked Yeine. She was more human and less regal, making her more relatable.
Jemisin has plenty of surprises in store with The Broken Kingdoms. The plot is complex and full of diverse characters. The pace is slow but not boring, since there are so many details to divulge. This is a strong entry in the trilogy, and I’m hoping the third book is just as compelling since I’m already diving into it.