There were three gods once... the god of day, the god of night, and the goddess of twilight and dawn. Or light and darkness and the shades between. Or order, chaos, and balance. None of that is important because one of them died, the other might as well have, and the last is the only one who matters anymore.
—Yeine, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Inheritance Trilogy is a series of books by N. K. Jemisin (website here) about a world where gods walk the earth alongside mortals (though, in general, not voluntarily). The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms; both came out in 2010, and the third and final book, The Kingdom of Gods, came out in 2011.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms details the life of Yeine, a noblewoman from the northern continent of Darr. She is called to the aptly-named capital city of Sky where she is unexpectedly made a candidate for the title of Arameri family head, or emperor of the world. Not all is as it seems, however, as petty squabbles break out, Living Weapons act friendly, and the time of the coronation draws ever closer...
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms chronicles the war of the Three, the tribunal of creator gods; their children; and its aftermath. One of the Three, Enefa, is slain, one, Nahadoth, is imprisoned, and the third, Itempas, takes over the world. Various lesser gods are imprisoned along with Nahadoth and take up the name of Enefadeh, or "we who remember Enefa."
The story continues in The Broken Kingdoms, set ten years after the first book, and starts off with the blind artist Oree Shoth finding a dead god in her rubbish...who isn't so dead after all, and proceeds to cause a whole lot of trouble for her. Oree and her intensely irritating new lodger have to navigate their way through a maze of former lovers, past crimes and timeless sorrows, in order to get to the bottom of why someone is killing godlings and making an attempt on the existence of one of the Three.
And the story is concluded in Kingdom of the Gods when Sieh the Trickster, firstborn of all the Three's children, forms a tentative friendship with the twin heirs to the Arameri - and it all goes disastrously wrong. (Or right.)
A fascinating tale of what could happen if the gods created humans in their image, humans turned on them, and by extension, the gods had all the faults that humans do.
To be confused with the Inheritance Cycle, particularly because that was formerly also known as the Inheritance Trilogy.
- Abusive Parents:
- Itempas to the Enefadeh
- Nahadoth to the demons
- Shahar to Shinda
- Enefa to Kahl
- Action Girl: Yeine, Glee, Kitr, Nemmer.
- All There in the Manual: Want to know about Itempas and Shahar's son? Check the author's blog.
- And I Must Scream: Being trapped in a mortal body is this to the gods.
- Apocalypse How: Class X-5 ("Multiversal/Physical Annihilation") as the Maelstrom comes for Kahl, leading to:
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Yeine.
- In book three, Sieh, Deka and Shahar become a second version of the Three, and set out to create their own universe.
- Barbarian Tribe: Subverted. The Amn consider the races of the High North continent to be this, even though the High Northers were forcibly civilized centuries before. Turns out the Amn themselves used to be cannibals.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: Everything that happens in the trilogy is the result of ongoing clashes between the big, screwed up Arameri and divine families.
- Bi the Way
- Bittersweet Ending: Kingdom of Gods.
- Blood Magic: Demon blood kills gods. Big in the backstory and book two.
- Brick Joke: At the ending of Broken Kingdoms, Oree imagines that, when Itempas comes back to her and their daughter, he'll have learned enough manners to wipe his feet and hang up his coat. At the very, very, end of Kingdom of the Gods, a hundred years later, Itempas has, indeed, learned some manners.
- Brother-Sister Incest: The Three (two brothers and one sister) are basically a polyandrous relationship; their godly children get their share of hanky panky with each other.
- In a human, subtle, and squicky example, Relad enjoys sexual romps with women who look like his twin sister.
- Shahar and Deka's father, Remina, is their mother Remath's half-brother.
- Brought Down to Normal: Tempa and Sieh.
- Butch Lesbian: Subverted. Yeine has short hair and is flatchested, and is 'often mistaken for a boy'. However, she has sex both with T'vril and Nahadoth, and shows no interest in women, though lesbianism is apparently common in her homeland. Specifically subverts No Guy Wants an Amazon.
- Lesbian Remath hits the "short hair" part of this, but she's also described as more busty, hip-y, and generally feminine than her daughter Shahar.
- Capital City: Sky, where delegates of the eponymous "hundred thousand kingdoms" meet and, more importantly, the Arameri family head lives. Later it becomes a Holy City and pilgrimage destination.
- Character Development: The point of Nahadoth and Yeine sticking Bright Itempas in a human body.
- Chekhov's Gun: Glee's knife.
- The Church / Activist Fundamentalist Antics / Saintly Church: The Itempan Church, led by hateful priestess Shahar Arameri, used the Enefadeh to completely reshape the world after the gods' war. It collects taxes, provides extensive social services (universal primary education, food and housing for the disabled, public sanitation, etc.), and imposes a theological injunction against the chaos of war. The Church, with the guidance of the Arameri family, gave the world an unprecedented 2,000 years of stability and prosperity—on the backs of the enslaved Enefadeh, and after crushing local religious traditions.
- Cosmic Keystone: The Stone of Earth, which is vital to the ceremony that crowns the new Lord Arameri, is actually the last remnant of Enefa's body and power - her heart.
- Actually, Word of God says it's an ovary.
- Cosmopolitan Council: Established at the end of book three.
- Creation Myth
- Did the Earth Move For You, Too?: When Yeine and Nahadoth do it, their passion engulfs the entire universe.
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu? / Pals with Jesus / God Was My Co-Pilot:
- Yeine and the Enefadeh.
- Oree and Shiny.
- Sieh and the Arameri twins.
- Different As Night and Day / Sibling Yin-Yang: Tempa and Naha.
- Disability Superpower: Oree.
- Divine Date: Everywhere.
- Dark Is Not Evil
- Deadly Decadent Court: Sky the palace.
- Descend From a Higher Plane of Existence / God in Human Form / Emergent Human / Humanity Ensues: The Enefadeh, Itempas, Sieh.
- Did You Just Romance Cthulhu??
- Downer Ending: The Broken Kingdoms.
- Down in the Dumps: With a god named Dump.
- Earth Mother / Mother Nature, Father Science: Intentionally averted hard. Enefa, creator of life, is also the goddess of death, and is ruthless about offing substandard creations. Itempas and Nahadoth got most of the stereotypically emotional "motherly" aspects.
- The Empire: The Arameri Bright through its puppet Consortium.
- Brought down to Vestigial Empire
- Mr. Fanservice: More than enough, in the form of the male gods and godlings.
- Even the Guys Want Him
- Fantasy Pantheon
- Flying Dutchman: Itempas's plot through book two and into book three.
- Foregone Conclusion: Come on, everyone except Oree, even the readers, knew that 'Shiny' was really Itempas.
- God Is Flawed: And the Three made humans in their images, so Humans Are Flawed, too!
- God Was My Co-Pilot: It sure is a surprise to Oree and Sermyn when they find out who "Shiny" really is.
“You knew he had been overthrown, Serymn. You’ve seen many gods take mortal form. Why did it never occur to you that your own god might be among them?”
- Going Native: Kurue, who turns against her fellow Enefadeh in hopes of winning Itempas' favor.
- Good Is Not Nice: T'Vril makes a much better ruler than his predecessors, but at the same time he is still very much an Arameri in some respects; particularly when he rips out Serymn's tongue, not only to punish her but also to prevent her from revealing the truth about Oree to the gods, and then delivers her up to the mercy of Nahadoth. Who is not feeling very merciful. T'vril's trying to get rid of his 'too gentle image', and he's succeeding.
- Sieh and Nahadoth have their moments in books two and three.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Nahadoth and Yeine, Shiny and Oree, Madding and Oree.
- Green Eyes: A major plot point in book one—Yeine, Enefa, and Sieh's remarkable "jade" eyes.
- Also big in book three.
- In book one, Yeine is half Amn and half Darre, though she looks mostly Darre and thinks of herself as Darre. Also, T'vril, who is half Amn and half Ken.
- In book two, Oree and Dateh who are descendants of demons, the children of Gods (specifically the Three) and mortals.
- In book three, Shahar and Deka, who are one-eighth god from great-grandpa Ahad, and Glee, Itempas and Oree's slightly-more-than-half godly daughter.
- Harmony Versus Discipline
- Heroic Sacrifice
- Hot Amazon: Subverted in both Yeine and Zhakkarn, the Goddess of Battle and Blood. Zhakkarn is described as something like seven feet tall, and is built like a "great sea ship." Fetish Fuel, indeed.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Arameri and the New Lights, at least.
- I Have Many Names: After Nahadoth and unchained and Enefa is reborn as Yeine, the old Itempan church starts referring to them as the "Lord of Shadows" and "Gray Lady" to avoid sounding like they've completely backtracked on the "Enefa and Nahadoth are traitors you shouldn't pray to" bit.
- Naha/Hado/Ahad/Beloved (who also has one name that Glee gave him which he never shared with anyone).
- Immortality: Nahadoth and Itempas are Type I; it's implied that they can be Killed Off for Real, but doing so would end the universe. The Enefadeh are somewhere between Types II and III. Enefa herself is Type IV.
- Incest Is Relative: The Three are siblings who do it three ways; in fact, it's implied that Itempas killed Enefa primarily out of jealousy.
- Inner Monologue: The three books are first-person pieces. The first is narrated by Yeine, the second by Oree, the third by Sieh.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence
- Interspecies Romance
- Jerkass Gods: Potentially, all of them. But specifically in the first book, Itempas.
- Kids Are Cruel: Sieh.
- The first Shahar murders her dad. The second one isn't cruel, but sure is bratty.
- Kneel Before Frodo:
Serymn looked, radiating disdain. “Is there something I should be seeing?”
- Light Is Not Good
- Loads and Loads of Races
- The Mafia
- Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: An issue for Nahadoth and Yeine, as well as Madding and Oree.
- Mayfly-December Romance:
- Oree and Madding
- Oree and Tempa
- Glee and Ahad
- Meaningful Name: Maroneh girls, Oree included, have sorrowful names, while Maroneh boys have vengeance-oriented names. It's Nahadoth's fault.
- Medieval Stasis
- Morality Kitchen Sink
- Murder the Hypotenuse
- Offing the Offspring: The demon holocaust. Shahar. Itempas during the Gods' War. Sieh and Kahl.
- Oh My Gods: An interesting example in that characters frequently utter the phrase while in the presence of actual gods. Including the gods themselves.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Maskers.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Yeine, who is a strong character, is nevertheless forced to compete against gods for readers' attention. Guess who wins.
- Parental Incest
- Poisoned Weapons: Covered or made of demon blood.
- Power Trio: The Three.
- Sieh, Deka, and Shahar.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Yeine and Usein.
- Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Yeine ends up having accurate visions of things that happened in the past. Originally justified in that Enefa's soul, and by extension her mind, is part of her but, as Nahadoth points out, Enefa was already dead by the time half of Yeine's visions took place. Then again, Enefa's soul has been 'drifting' all this time, ostensibly soaking up the sights in the meantime, which would make this more of a Zig-Zagging Trope.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old
- Redemption Equals Sex
- La Résistance: Usein Darr's High Norther movement.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Yeine tries.
- Sanity Slippage: At the start of the book, the audience is told that Yeine is telling her story so that she can remember it herself. As time passes, this seems to be more and more necessary, as Yeine is apparently going mad (at one point, she says "Once upon a time there was a" several times in a row before catching herself). At the end of the book, it turns out that all of this was due to her soul merging with the soul of the goddess inside her, allowing her to ascend to godhood.
- Save Your Deity: Yeine to Naha in book one; Oree to Tempa in book two.
- Semi-Divine: Demons are the descendants of both god and mortal, and include Oree. Since demons are themselves mortal, but also partake of godhood, their blood is the only thing that can kill the genuinely-immortal gods.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage: In Darre.
- Sex Slave: Hado and Sieh in book one.
- Sexual Karma: Yeine and the rest of the Three get heavy doses of this, it seems. Though, to be fair, when the people in charge of karma are the ones in the relationship, it kind of makes sense.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Itempas and Nahadoth.
- Someone to Remember Him By: At the end of The Broken Kingdoms it turns out that Oree's been telling her story to Itempas's unborn daughter, concieved after their one night of passion.
- Storming the Castle: Maskers in Sky.
- The Time of Myths: Potentially, the whole trilogy.
- Time Skip: Ten years between book one and two, and a century between two and three.
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Both Viraine and Itemapas. Of course they're the same person.
- World Tree
- Yandere: Itempas. He murdered Enefa and then started a huge war and imprisoned Nahadoth in human flesh...because Nahadoth paid more attention to Enefa then to him for a little bit. And then there's Deka in the third book, who basically invented/discovered a new kind of magic, inked it on his own body, and is quite willing to rearrange the universe just so he can have Sieh. And Deka is Arameri, and even though they're not as powerful as they were by the third book they are still very strong and scarily brutal.
- You Know What They Say About X...: Racism is alive and well in this world, shown mostly by the Arameri's reaction to any mixed-race member of the family.