Tag Archives: Empowerment

Jemisin, N.K.: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance I) (2010)

 

Lately, I have had reason to think about the many ways in which people surprise us. Usually, I find that the greatest surprises come at times of stress. Some people end up inviting strangers into their homes and others end up reneging on deals made. People we think we know, turn out to be just as unknowable as the rest of the world.

When Yeine arrives at Sky, people meeting her have already made assumptions about who and what she is. In the case of the full-blood Arameri, Yeine is ONLY a half-blood (dear, oh dear) and probably headed for servility. Except she isn’t. Yeine’s dead mother still seems to have plans for her daughter’s stay in Sky even though that same mother has not lived in Sky for the past 20 years. Finally, the gods and goddesses stuck in Sky have their share of expectations tied to their own idea of who Yeine is.

What I have discovered is that people aren’t as we think. Even close family members who we like to think we know well. All of the people with ideas about Yeine end up being wrong. Their own dreams and projections of self onto her, muddy their ability to predict her completely. Even the gods and goddesses. Or maybe especially the gods and goddesses. They are stuck in their aspects and change does not come readily to them. Nor does the idea of having been mistaken in their conclusions about a person.

But life is like that. Isn’t it. We all draw conclusions about others based on projections of self onto them. Changing whatever opinion we might have made is painful to the extreme. Sometimes enmity ensues and sometimes relationships become deeper after the rift heals. Finally, we become able to see each other as something more. In her search for answers about her mother, Yeine struggles with letting go of her pre-conceived ideas about her mom. In Yeine’s eyes her mother is a person who could do no wrong. Even at 19 Yeine still feels the same way. If that vision is challenged, Yeine is quick to anger. But slowly, ever so slowly, Yeine begins to know her mother, the person. Knowing that person is essential if Yeine is to discover who murdered her (and possibly getting revenge).

Perhaps The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Skygod’s Lover) is more about letting go than anything else. In addition to letting go of her ideas and dreams, Yeine slowly learns to let go of her fear. Fear is such a strong component of our personhood. It binds us into roles we may not want but ultimately fear to break out of. Change is frightening. Our own personal change is probably the most feared change of all – at least it seems that way to me. But Yeine discovers what most of us do when we embark on that letting-go process. For one, we generally do not die. More importantly, our fear lessens. Perhaps slowly, but nevertheless. So, too, it is for Yeine.

There is some sex and violence. Definitely recommended.


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The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus available at Barnes & Noble

Jemisin, N.K.: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (location 2317)

“It was very bad if the council had resorted to recruiting men. By tradition men were our last line of defense, their physical strength bent toward the single and most important task of protecting our homes and children.”

Hurtado, Aída: The Color of Privilege: Three Blasphemies on Race and Feminism: Page 135

Trick Number 6: The Pendejo Game

When you, the outsider, come close to subverting my power through the sheer strength of your moral arguments or through organized mass protest, I will give you an audience. I will listen to you, sometimes for the first time, and will seem engaged. At critical points in your analysis I will claim I do not know what you are talking about and will ask you to elaborate ad nauseam. I will consistently subvert your efforts at dialogue by “claiming we do not speak the same language.” I will assert that many of our differences, if not all, are due to our different ways of communicating. I will ask you to educate me and spend your energies in finding ways of saying things so that I can understand. I will not do the same for you. Instead of using your resources to advance your causes, I will see you like a rat in a cage running around trying to find ways to explain the cage to me, while I hold the key to open the door. At the same time, I will convince you that I have no ill intentions toward you or those like you. I am simply not informed. The claim of ignorance is one of my most powerful weapons because, while you spend your time trying to enlighten me, everything remains the same. The “Pendejo Game” will also allow me to gain intimate knowledge of your psyche, which will perfect my understanding of how to dominate you.

Zamin, Mira: The Puppet Queen: A Tale of the Sleeping Beauty (2012)

The Puppet Queen
Cover image: “Sweet Nothings”:
John William Godward (1861-1922)
Cover design by Mira Zamin
800px-Sweet_Nothings_by_Godward
Dolce far Niente (1904)
Gorgeous painting

Various versions of the Sleeping Beauty tale have been around since the late 1600’s. The Puppet Queen adds itself to that list and keeps itself somewhat bleak in the tradition of folk-tales.

Twins, fraternal ones, can be as different from each other as any other pair of siblings. Selene and Auralia are like night and day. Auralia is the serene and proper one while Selene is the dark-haired girl in fine, torn tunics, tumbling into trouble any day of the week. Auralia is ready to embrace adulthood while Selene thinks the whole thing sounds like a bore. For a girl growing up in a society such as the one described in The Puppet Queen adulthood could be very constricting, and for a girl like Selene adulthood would probably have been excruciating to adjust to.

Life in the world of folk-tales tends to be fraught with danger. Curses, wickedness, murder, rape, and abuse of various sorts seem to trail through them all. There is always a way out, but that way tends to carry a high price and the “hero” must find it in them to pay it. If not – well …

The curse of Sleeping Beauty and of The Puppet Queen is one of sleep. Sleep for a castle in Sleeping Beauty and sleep for a whole country in The Puppet Queen. The only one to escape the curse in The Puppet Queen is Selene, and Selene it is who must save the day.

I think what I liked most about The Puppet Queen is that it stayed true to the spirit of folk-tales. People in the middle-ages knew how to tell stories. That these stories are used as a base for modern tales only shows the quality of the stories and their value as teaching tools.

I like the way Mira Zamin showed how difficult it was for Selene to withstand Gwydion. Their relationship was clearly an abusive one. But for Selene to break out of that relationship just wasn’t done in the days portrayed in the story. Perhaps she manages to do so and perhaps she doesn’t, but her experiences are the experiences of many women in relationships today. He who was once Prince Charming might well turn into King Terror. I appreciated Princess Selene’s resilience and the way she kept on going no matter what. Her main goal was to break the curse and she would endure what she must to reach her goal.

So, yeah – I enjoyed The Puppet Queen.


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