The first book in the Inheritance fantasy trilogy. The cover is gorgeous!

Publication year: 2010
Format: Print
Page count: 412
Publisher: Orbit

Yeine Darr is a young woman from the small and poor kingdom of Darr. Her mother was the daughter of the man who rules the whole world and was destined to rule it after her father, but she abdicated and left when she fell in love with Yeine’s father. Now, Yeine’s mother was assassinated about a year ago and Yeine’s grandfather Dekarta Arameri sends for Yeine. She travels for several months in order to get to the floating palace of Sky where the Arameri family rule the world. She doesn’t really know what to expect and is shocked when Dekarta declares Yeine his third heir. The other two heirs are Dekarta’s brother’s children who have been preparing their whole lives for this chance. The heirs are supposed to scheme against each other for the honor of becoming the next ruler of the world.

A couple of thousand years ago, the gods warred and the winner was Itempas, the Bright Skylord. He killed Enefas, the goddess of life, and made the other gods slaves and gave them to the Arameri so that the enslaved gods could work for humans and make penance for turning against him. Itempas also made it illegal to worship any other god and the Amnites enforce this law by killing any heretics they find.

Yeine knows that the Arameri are cruel and evil, and she can’t win against them. Despite her young age, she’s not yet twenty, she was the ruler of her small kingdom which is a rare matriarchy. Everyone else in Sky, even the servants, consider her a barbarian who can’t survive long in Sky’s cutthroat political landscape.

The book promises to be about politics with a side order of discussion about slavery or perhaps divinity. But it doesn’t really do that. The real plot (twist) is introduced about half-way through and I won’t spoil it here. Unfortunately, I managed to spoil myself which clearly affected by expectations.

The story is told in a first person POV and it quickly becomes clear that Yeine is telling the story to someone. There are short passages at the start of chapters and sometimes in the middle of them when she says something aside or tells old myths. I rather liked that writing style.

There’s no delicate politicking in the book. It was made clear early on that the true power rests with Dekarta and the two heirs, and not the Consortium where decisions and laws are supposedly made. Neither of the heirs are interested in any sort of alliance; Scimina is the strong, ambitious one and she never even considers Yeine to be anything else than a pawn. Her brother Relad has apparently accepted his fate as the loser. Unfortunately, this made it pretty impossible for Yeine do any scheming or politicking. She does it a little in order to save the impoverished Darr but very quickly Scimina warns her that she can’t do anything about that, either. So, politicking is very blunt.

Unfortunately, to me this made Yeine a bit bland character. She has no chance of affecting her fate and very soon she doesn’t even try. On the other hand, she’s a great concept: a bi-racial woman who is never too white to be an Amnite and never too dark to be a true Darre. We get to hear about her childhood and I suspect that her mother was never really accepted and neither was she. She didn’t really have a home. When she comes to Sky, she wants revenge on her mother’s murderer whom she suspect is Dekarte. She also wants to know more about her mother’s life on Sky.

Yeine’s from a matriarchal warrior society and yet, not once does she have a problem with interacting with many males who clearly have power, especially over her. (Lets face it, sexist male POV characters do make sexist and misogynistic comments, if not out loud then at least to the reader.) Yeine took is as a matter of course. We also get only little snippets about Darre culture which I would have loved to see more.

The scheming Scimina is perhaps the strongest character in the book; she wants power and will do anything to get it. Then there’s T’vril, who is also Dekarta’s brother’s son but demoted to a servant, and Viraine the head scribe who is also responsible for magic use. The gods are very interesting. Nahadoth is the Nightlord, the god of sex chaos, and he was the first god in existence. Now, he’s reduced to a slave; used and abused by mere mortals. Sieh is the god of mischief; he’s innocent like a child and still abused horribly. Sieh and Yeine develop a great friendship.

All of the gods (except Itempas, of course) are bound to a mortal vessel but retain some of their godly abilities so that they can better serve the Arameri. In the Nightlord’s case that’s literal: during the night he’s mentally himself, but during the day his personality is suppressed by a mortal man who is just as cruel as the Arameri, and still a slave.

I really liked the myths and the way that the ruling priesthood has changed them and suppressed them. I also love the world-building; the whole gods being slaves idea, Amn conquering rest of the world, and the twisted Arameri family itself. The Arameri are, in fact, a numerous family. However, most of them are servants because they are only half- or quarter blooded. Still, when the sun goes down and the Nightlord gets most of his power back, only people with Arameri blood in them are able to survive in Sky. I really love the concept of floating city but the city itself wasn’t described enough.

Oh, yes. There was also a romance. In fact, the romance was the biggest part of the latter half. Alas, I don’t really care for heroines who fall for men who try to kill her. (Where does that trope come from? An apologia for domestic abuse??) Here, Yeine explains it somewhat as the lust for danger and she’s likely to die quickly anyway. Still, it’s one of my squicks. And I rolled my eyes at the over the top sex scene.

At the end of the book, there are three appendices. One is a list of terms and characters. The other two I liked a lot: a short Clarification of Terms used about the enslaved gods, and a short history of how the Arameri got the used of the enslaved gods.

The next book, the Broken Kingdom, is apparently urban fantasy. I love the concept of having different sub-genres in the same series so I’ll probably get that one.