N. K. Jemisin
N. K. Jemisin (born September 19, 1972) is an American speculative fiction writer and blogger.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010)
- All page numbers from the trade paperback edition published by Orbit Books
- There is no greater warrior than a mother protecting her child.
- Chapter 4 (p. 36)
- But perhaps that was just the way of power: no such thing as too much.
- Chapter 6 (p. 61)
- It is blasphemy to separate oneself from the earth and look down on it like a god. It is more than blasphemy, it is dangerous. We can never be gods, after all—but we can become something less than human with frightening ease.
- Chapter 7 (p. 74)
- It is important to appreciate beauty, even when it is evil.
- Chapter 7 (p. 75)
- Immortality gets very, very boring. You'd be surprised at how interesting the small mundanities of life can seem after a few millennia.
- Chapter 9 (p. 103)
- But love like that doesn’t just disappear, does it? No matter how powerful the hate, there’s always a little love left, underneath.
Yes. Horrible, isn’t it?
- Chapter 12 (p. 144)
- There is no logic to grief.
- Chapter 21 (p. 282)
- “I'm tired of being what everyone else has made me,” I said. “I want to be myself.”
“Don’t be a child.”
I looked up, startled and angry, though of course there was nothing to see. “What?”
“You are what your creators and experiences have made you, like every other being in this universe. Accept that and be done; I’m tired of your whining.”
- Chapter 22 (p. 299)
- “I will not beg your forgiveness,” she said. Only her voice betrayed her fear; it was not its usual strong, clear tone. “I did what I felt was right.”
“Of course you did,” I said. “It was the wise thing to do.”
- Chapter 29 (p. 394)
The Broken Kingdoms (2011)
- All page numbers from the trade paperback first edition published by Orbit Books ISBN 978-0-316-04396-0
- It’s all right to need help. All of us have things we can’t do alone.
- (p. 1; repeated twice more in the book)
- Love betrayed has an entirely different sound from hatred outright.
- Chapter 3 “Gods and Corpses” (oil on canvas) (p. 58)
- When people questioned this, the priests simply said, The world has changed. We must change with it.
You can imagine how well that went over.
- Chapter 4 “Frustration” (watercolor) (p. 60)
- I was beginning to understand, a little. “Is that why you’re a usurer?”
Madding chuckled. “I prefer the term investor. And my rates are perfectly fair, thank you.”
“Drug dealer, then.”
“I prefer the term independent apothecary—”
- Chapter 4 “Frustration” (watercolor) (p. 68)
- Very quickly I fell in with others like me—newcomers, dreamers, young people drawn to the city in spite of its dangers because sometimes, for some of us, tedium and familiarity feel worse than risking your life.
- Chapter 4 “Frustration” (watercolor) (p. 71)
- There’s not such thing as magic that does no harm.
- Chapter 4 “Frustration” (watercolor) (p. 93)
- “They follow the creed of the Bright: that which disturbs the order of society must be eliminated, regardless of whether it caused the disturbance.” She rolled her eyes. “You’d think they’d get tired of parroting Itempas and start thinking for themselves after two thousand years.”
- Chapter 5 “Family” (charcoal study) (p. 105)
- I knew as well as anyone that the priests taught what they wanted us to know, not necessarily what was true. And sometimes even when they told the truth, they got it wrong.
- Chapter 5 “Family” (charcoal study) (p. 120)
- What happened when people who’d once possessed absolute power suddenly lost it?
- Chapter 8 “Light Reveals” (encaustic on canvas) (p. 170)
- But though I repeated my plea, and waited on my knees for nearly an hour, there was no answer.
- Chapter 9 “Seduction” (charcoal) (p. 181)
- I understand that mutual dissatisfaction is a factor in their collaboration. I imagine it isn’t a far step from mutual goals to mutual respect, and from there to love.
- Chapter 9 “Seduction” (charcoal) (p. 185)
- “You can’t lose faith you never had to begin with.”
“Ah. So you never believed in the Bright at all?”
“Of course I believed. Even now I believe, in principle. But when I was sixteen, I saw the hypocrisy in all the things the priests had taught me. It’s all very well to say the world values reason and compassion and justice, but if nothing in reality reflects those words, they’re meaningless.”
- Chapter 9 “Seduction” (charcoal) (p. 189)
- So, there was a girl.
What I’ve guessed, and what the history books imply, is that she was unlucky enough to have been sired by a cruel man. He beat both wife and daughter and abused them in other ways. Bright Itempas is called, among other things, the god of justice. Perhaps that was why He responded when she came into His temple, her heart full of unchildlike rage.
“I want him to die,” she said (or so I imagine). “Please Great Lord, make him die.”
You know the truth now about Itempas. He is a god of warmth and light, which we think of as pleasant, gentle things. I once thought of Him that way, too. But warmth uncooled burns; light undimmed can hurt even my blind eyes. I should have realized. We should all have realized. He was never what we wanted Him to be.
So when the girl begged the Bright Lord to murder her father, He said, “Kill him yourself.” And He gifted her with a knife perfectly suited to her small, weak child’s hands.
She took the knife home and used it that very night. The next day, she came back to the Bright Lord, her hands and soul stained red, happy for the first time in her short life. “I will love you forever,” she declared. And He, for a rare once, found Himself impressed by mortal will.
Or so I imagine.
The child was mad, of course. Later events proved this. But it makes sense to me that this madness, not mere religious devotion, would appeal most to the Bright Lord. Her love was unconditional, her purpose undiluted by such paltry considerations as conscience or doubt. It seems like Him, I think, to value that kind of purity of purpose—even though, like warmth and light, too much love is never a good thing.
- Chapter 11 “Possession” (watercolor) (pp. 202-203)
- Good intentions are pointless without the will to implement them.
- Chapter 16 “From the Depths to the Heights” (watercolor) (p. 281)
- I...regret...what I did. It was wrong. Very wrong. But regret is meaningless.
- Chapter 16 “From the Depths to the Heights” (watercolor) (p. 283)
- They live forever, but many of them are even more lonely and miserable than we are. Why do you think they bother with us? We teach them life’s value.
- Chapter 17 “A Golden Chain” (engraving on metal plate) (p. 309)
- “I keep hoping you’ll tell me. You’re the god, after all. If I prayed to you for guidance, and you decided to answer, what would you tell me?”
“I wouldn’t answer.”
“Because you don’t care? Or because you wouldn’t know what to say?”
- Chapter 17 “A Golden Chain” (engraving on metal plate) (p. 311)
- I knew what it was at last—the visible manifestation of my will. My power, inherited from my god ancestors and distilled through generations of humanity, given shape and energy and potential. That was all magic was, really, in the end. Possibility. With it I could create anything, provided I believed.
- Chapter 19 “The Demons’ War” (charcoal and chalk on black paper) (p. 349)
- Otherwise it was quiet—that eerie, not-quite-comforting quiet one finds in small towns before dawn.
- Chapter 20 “Life” (oil study) (p. 364)
- I had never been able to truly hate anyone who’d suffered, no matter what evils they’d done in the aftermath.
- Chapter 21 “Still Life” (oil on canvas) (p. 378)