Welcome to the regular installment of books that for one reason or the other, I didn’t finish reading this month. This month, there were only two books I didn’t make it through.
Kingdom of Gods is the final novel in N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy, which I’ve now decided to leave unfinished. I gave The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms four stars, and The Broken Kingdoms three stars. What I read of Kingdom of Gods probably would have garnished two stars. My enjoyment of this series is in clear decline. For whatever reason, reading this last one felt painful. Maybe it’s because everything I liked from the first book felt less present, and everything I’ve disliked about the series has felt magnified. The first book teetered on my thresh hold for “too much romance,” particularly with the obnoxiously purple prose that appeared in tangent with the love interest. Kingdom of Gods is a continuation of this trend, complete with a ridiculously over the top sex scene between teenagers. Kingdom of Gods also continues the trend of heroines who are passive and/or significantly less powerful than their immortal male love interests. The narrator of Kingdom of Gods is Sieh, the childlike trickster god from previous books. I didn’t care for his narration, although I’d liked him fine in previous installments. The main female character is the heir to the Arameri, Shahar. Not long after Sieh becomes trapped in mortal form and begins losing his powers, Shahar is ordered by her mother to “provide him with anything he desires.” I didn’t actually quit until the subplot about SPOILER her being manipulated to have sex with him to create a demon baby. Oh, then he kills like thirty random people (after spending the whole book lecturing her on morality) and she has to use her love to tame his wrath. I promptly noped out of there. Oh, and while there were some glimmers of a nascent plot line, I had already read two hundred pages too many of this book to drag through one more page.
I made it 240 pages through the roughly 360 paged The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly. It’s not that this book was terrible, it’s just that I didn’t find anything about it exciting. I normally read a book within two or three days. I’ve been at least theoretically reading The Silent Tower for five days and only trudging through a bit at a time. The book involves a computer programmer who’s sucked into a fantasy world as part of a plot involving a wizard messing with the void between worlds. The book alternates between the POV of the programmer (Joanna) and a guard working for the wizard’s council (Caris). Caris’s POV is dreadfully boring, and Joanna’s is only slightly more interesting. The world building is industrial revolution era, and there’s some things going on with the power balance between the wizard’s council and other authorities. Other than that, everything about the world felt exceedingly familiar and uninventive. Why would a fantasy world be so similar to our own? Heck, why would they have a tarot deck with suits of wands, swords, cups, and pentacles? Wouldn’t they have their own methods of fortune telling? Oh, and 240 pages in, and Joanna hadn’t interacted with a single other female character. Part of me wanted to keep reading to see if this book would eventually pass the Bechdel test, but I was really ready to move on to something else at that point.