A hundred thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin

Half a thousand words why this is an interesting book

When I read the synopsis for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin  on Amazon, I wasn’t really impressed. It didn’t sound interesting, just the same old story of the outcast, the outsider. However, I was recently book hungry, and I happened to browse this book . I opened the first page, and this was basically what I found:

“She will do, then,” said Dekarta.

“Do for what, Grandfather?” I asked. The weight in the room grew heavier, expectant, though he had already named me granddaughter. There was a certain risk involved in my daring to address him the same familiar way, of course—powerful men are touchy over odd things. But my mother had indeed trained me well, and I knew it was worth the risk to establish myself in the court’s eyes.

Dekarta Arameri’s face did not change; I could not read it. “For my heir, Granddaughter. I intend to name you to that position today.”

The silence turned to stone as hard as my grandfather’s chair.

I thought he might be joking, but no one laughed. That was what made me believe him at last: the utter shock and horror on the faces of the courtiers as they stared at their lord. Except the one called Viraine. He watched me.

It came to me that some response was expected.

“You already have heirs,” I said.

“Not as diplomatic as she could be,” Viraine said in a dry tone.

Dekarta ignored this. “It is true, there are two other candidates,” he said to me. “My niece and nephew, Scimina and Relad. Your cousins, once removed.”

I had heard of them, of course; everyone had. Rumor constantly made one or the other heir, though no one knew for certain which. Both was something that had not occurred to me.

“If I may suggest, Grandfather,” I said carefully, though it was impossible to be careful in this conversation, “I would make two heirs too many.”

It was the eyes that made Dekarta seem so old, I would realize much later. I had no idea what color they had originally been; age had bleached and filmed them to near-white. There were lifetimes in those eyes, none of them happy.

“Indeed,” he said. “But just enough for an interesting competition, I think.”

“I don’t understand, Grandfather.”

He lifted his hand in a gesture that would have been graceful, once. Now his hand shook badly. “It is very simple. I have named three heirs. One of you will actually manage to succeed me. The other two will doubtless kill each other or be killed by the victor. As for which lives, and which die—” He shrugged. “That is for you to decide.”

 

I was hooked after reading that. This opening passage should have been the synopsis on Amazon instead. It would have grabbed my attention immediately. I started reading excitedly after this, and what I found surprised me. This book doesn’t go the direction you think it will go, but it definitely keeps you hooked. All I will say is that this book is different and interesting. Definitely Interesting.

 

 

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Sex, intimacy and Romance

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Boy and girl…….. sitting in a tree…….. K-I-S-S-E-X?

Around last year, I started reading books by the author Maria V. Snyder. I’ve read her Study series :Poison study, Magic study, and Fire study, and  her Healer series: Touch of Power and Scent of Magic. While I quite like  these books, the characters, and the romance (especially the romance), I have a particular issue with the romance.

The problem I have with Snyder’s romance is that right after the love interests declare their love for one another, they have sex. Where is the getting to know one another? The communication? The spending real quality time together? The bonding? I don’t feel like the characters are intimate (or married) enough to start having sex. I feel like the characters could just kiss. There really is no need for sex at that point. It feels so …….rushed. And I don’t feel like anything meaningful can be built on that.

On the other hand, what I like about Snyder’s romance are the small moments of intimacy. For example, in the Study series, there is a particular character who cannot do any magic. However, when his love interest is in danger, all of a sudden he can make a magical connection with her. In the Healer series, there are characters who can share power through touching. There is a delicious foreshadowing of who will fall in love with each other by how  frequently they need to share power, in order words:  hold hands and hug.

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Hill Harper, the actor who played Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CSI: New York,  articulately explains what I’m trying to say in his book The conversation. In an interview with Essence Magazine, he talks about the difference between intimacy and sex, saying,

You can have intimacy without sex. Intimacy can be about holding someone’s hand. It could be about stroking their hair. There are ways to be intimate with someone intimately that don’t involve sex. Often times people confuse the two and often times what people want deep down is intimacy, but in their minds, they use sex as a way to try to get that and then in some cases feel unfulfilled because the sex isn’t really intimate. It’s important to be clear about the difference. Then you’re able to ask, “Well what am I getting? Am I being intimate with this person or is it just sex?” Obviously you’d like to have a relationship with all of those elements, meaning you have intimacy, you have sex, and you also have sex with intimacy. “

 
I think Mr. Harper explains the problem I have with Snyder’s type of romance perfectly. Her love interests have sex, but how can that sex be fulfilling if they don’t know the different expressions on each other’s face, and what those expressions mean? They don’t know each other’s desires, goals, dislikes, or love language.

So while I like her romance, I’m not a big fan of the sex.

J.K. Rowling and the issues she has with Ronald Weasley

Sick and tired of Ronald Weasley bashing

If you’re a Harry Potter  fan, then you may have heard what J.K. Rowling said last week about regretting putting Ron and Hermione as a couple, and how Harry and Hermione should have been together.

J.K. Rowling is a good writer. I always felt that her logic in the Harry Potter books was good. However, after reading her latest words, I’ve had to come to terms with little illogical aspects that bothered me in the series.

The one aspect that I’ve always wondered about is why J.K. Rowling kept bashing Ron as a character. She frequently put him down, making him jealous of Harry in the 4th book, supposedly unkind in the 6th book, scorned at in the fifth and sixth, and jealous again in the 7th book. In the 5th book, it was revealed that Harry would have been made a prefect instead of Ron.  In the 6th book, when Ron made a brilliant save in Quidditch practice, we find out later that it happened by accident. His brothers and sister also put him down frequently, all the while praising Harry. There’s a saying that everyone is good at one thing. The ONE area where Ron was better than Harry and Hermione was in Chess, but that area was only dealt with in the first book, and was never spoken of again. To be a great chess player means that you have to be a great strategist. Harry made some big mistakes that could have been avoided if they had had a good strategist; so why wasn’t the one thing that set Ron apart from the rest brought into the story? It always seemed to me like Ron just kept taking hits as a character. J.K. Rowling’s recent statements saying that Ron and Hermione would have needed couple’s counseling in the future seems like another bashing of Ron.

Another issue that I had, was the fact that Hermione, who was very smart academically and emotionally and was kind, kept viewing Ron as someone who couldn’t accomplish much. Yet she didn’t have the smarts to see that this type of perception of your ‘best friend’ was very hurtful and could rightfully break a relationship. How many of you would keep calling someone your best friend knowing full well that they have such low expectations of you? Whenever Ron did accomplish something, she would be soooooo shocked. When he became prefect instead of Harry, she  angrily said that it couldn’t be possible.

This is what I think: J.K. Rowling has admitted that she dated a lot of Ron -like characters in the past. These men may have been unkind to her. So  she keeps bashing Ron because in retrospect she sees a lot of fault in these men that she dated. However, if indeed the character faults of Ronald Weasley were the character faults of the men she dated, then J.K. Rowling really needs to take another good look at Ron’s so called faults.

In the 5th book, Luna Lovegood calls Ron “mean at times” and Harry agrees. This is a classic case of telling not showing. How exactly was Ron mean from Luna’s perspective? She barely knew him. Oh, Ron wasn’t perfect, but how different was his behavior from Harry’s or Hermione’s? Harry didn’t treat Cho Chang well, blew up at everyone, disrespected people’s privacy, etc.  Hermione never removed the hex she put on Cho Chang’s friend; the girl had that hex for life (on her face). That is CRUEL; being a snitch doesn’t merit that, and Hermione knew better.

Furthermore, why was Hermione never called to answer for her behavior? (the same thing can be said about Harry).  Whenever Hermione was insulted, Ron was ALWAYS quick to her defense, always. We cannot say the same for Hermione. Even Ginny was quick to the defense of Harry, but Hermione was not like that for Ron. In the 6th book, Hermione laughs cruelly at Ron when he makes a mistake, and when he retaliates by making fun of her, she starts crying (typical). Harry comes to her defense saying that he also laughed at Ron’s mistake, but the difference in the laughter is never pointed out. Harry laughed as a joke, Hermione laughed vindictively. I’ve seen this behavior in myself and others in the past, getting upset at people’s mistreatment, but not paying attention  to the seemingly little hurtful things I did that provoked the so called ‘mistreatment’.

In the 6th book Ron starts dating another girl, Lavender. This makes Hermione sad, but why did Ron do this? He had had enough (and rightly so) of Hermione always believing that he was incapable of success. (He also was being mean, and looking for attention, any attention). Hermione, who was smart and kind to others, never seemed to see how her negative perception of Ron was affecting their relationship, and never apologizes for this behavior in any one of the books.  Imagine what the 6th book would have been like if Hermione had just admitted to viewing Ron in such a negative light, had apologized, and had promised to change. I think this could have helped Ron care about the wrong choices he was making in  the 6th and 7th book, like dating Lavender.

Ron, on the other hand, opened up his family for Harry and Hermione and never once complained. An insult on anyone of his friends was taken as an insult to him. He never mocked or made fun of his family members. When Harry became the Quidditch team captain, Ron was genuinely happy that Harry would now get privileges that he and Hermione already enjoyed as prefects. This is why I had a problem with J.K. Rowling making him jealous of Harry. Sure, he may have had jealous thoughts, but to break up a close friendship out of jealousy just feels so out of place to me. It made me wonder why J.K. Rowling kept portraying Ron like this.

I’ve noticed that at times writers may have an image of a character in their mind, but the person that comes out of their pen does not entirely resemble that person. The men that J.K. Rowling based Ron on may have been unkind, but the Ron that came out of her pen wasn’t very unkind.

I’d like to conclude by saying:

J.K. Rowling, please  stop bashing Ron. Whatever some Ron-like character did to you, please stop making an innocent character pay for their crimes.