Like the first book, this was a richly realized world with characters who did nothing without a future goal in mind. Set ten years after the end of Book 1, we follow Oree Shoth, a blind artist with a unique magical gift that draws the attentions of the wrong people in the city known as 'Shadow'.
The ending is no less bittersweet then the first book, nor does it not come without a form of sacrifice. Familiar faces appear from time to time, mostly with unfortunate tidings or actions, but Oree is a different girl from Yeine. Oree is certain of herself, of what she will and will not do. She falters only when that belief is tested because she feels guilty for a wrong-doing not committed at her hands, but came about because of her.
She changes, she brings about change. There was times when I thought that she was being too passive, too willing to let things just happen and content to wait for a better moment to act. She made bad decisions, or she made decisions too late or too in the heat of the moment. She forgot important details and motivations. I liked her for her flaws however. Liked that her blunders didn't always translate into perfect action. Yeine sometimes irritated me because even her mistakes became useful.
Shiny, who anyone who read the first book will certainly guess his true form, was damaged and arrogant and stubborn. Whatever he was he could no longer be and whatever he could become he refused. Everything is a plot within a plot. Everyone is someone they're pretending at. Even Oree does this, to moderate success, from time to time. Sieh shows up, mischievous and cruel, all emotion and no control. I love him; he is my favorite kind of character. He acts without real thought, but is loyal when you earn his trust.
Yeine and Naha show up, though Naha has only a small part in the book and Yeine appears more than once. And its because of Yeine many of the events of this book are set into place--well what Yeine brought about 10 years previously. She is...much changed. Though perhaps its less that her personality is different and more that what she exhibited as a mortal has become more clarified. No longer diluted.
Hado shows up! It took me a lot longer than I care to think about to remember who he was and if he hadn't practically spelled it out I don't think I ever would have. T'vril, now a decade into his reign as the Lord of the Arameri, also appears and he is everything that is wrong with the Arameri, but also better then those before him. Fairer, if not less cut-throat.
The narrative isn't quite as disjointed as the first book. At least Oree doesn't get as distracted, or for as long, as Yeine did. There was very little downtime once events were set into motion and I will admit to quite a few tears on my part.
Book 3, The Kingdom of Gods, isn't to released until next September (2011), but that's okay. While reading The Broken Kingdoms I felt I understood some of the events and people from The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms a little more. Or maybe a better appreciation is the right phrase? Either way I greatly enjoyed this book and can't wait to see how this all turns out. Sieh is the one focused on in Book 3, something I am greatly looking forward to.