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Literature / Inheritance Trilogy

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You may be looking for the Inheritance Cycle, by Christopher Paolini.

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 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...

A major subplot of the book deals with the war of the Three, the tribunal of creator gods; their children; and its aftermath. One of the Three, Enefa, was slain, one, Nahadoth, was imprisoned, and the third, Itempas, took 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.

The Inheritance Trilogy contains examples of:

  • Above the Gods: The Maelstrom, the Primordial Chaos that created the three top gods and even them combined can't get close to it. Though it's ambiguous whether the Maelstrom is sentient or not.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Itempas to all the Godlings, but the Enefadeh in particular.
    • Nahadoth to the demons.
    • Shahar to Shinda.
    • Enefa to Kahl and Sieh.
  • Action Girl: Yeine, Glee, Kitr, Nemmer.
  • Alternate Personality Punishment: The Punishment for the god Nahadoth was to be bound in mortal form and Made a Slave. At night, he's a Humanoid Abomination, but by day, he's a human with no memory of his divine self. When Nahadoth is released, he grants the human a body and sets him free.
    Hado: All the people who feared the god did not fear the man. They quickly learned they could do things to the man that the god would not tolerate. So the man lived his life in increments, born with every dawn, dying with every sunset. Hating every moment of it. For two. Thousand. Years.
  • 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.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: "Shiny"'s voice is a beautiful, rich, resonant, perfectly enunciated tenor that Oree could listen to "...all day. Or all night."
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • Yeine, when she takes the place of the Goddess Enefa at the end of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
    • In book three, Sieh, Deka and Shahar become a second version of the Three, and set out to create their own universe.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: One rare sign that Relad — who spends most of his time in a hedonistic stupor, expecting to die as soon as his sister claims the throne — has Hidden Depths is his private quarters, which are austere and functional, with a strategic world map inlaid in the floor.
  • Baby as Payment: Yeine learns that, before she was born, her mother traded her to the Enefadeh gods in exchange for curing Yeine's father's fatal illness. Rather than claim Yeine outright, they used her to incubate the dead Top Goddess Enefa's soul.
  • 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.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: The Darre tribe is a matriarchal society where a woman must beat a male fighter in a wrestling match to come of age. Usually the family picks out kind of a wimpy guy, but heirs like Yeine have to beat a genuine warrior. If the woman wins, she rapes him. If the man wins, he rapes her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: T'Vril is one of the most well adjusted and generally human members of the Arameri family. He also rips out the tongue of a rebellious family member with a pair of tongs.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: When Sieh and Deka finally kiss after over ten years of dancing around their feelings, it's enough to make the latter's magic go haywire and wreck the room without him noticing.
    Deka: That went better than expected.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kingdom of the Gods. Sieh is dead, but he is reborn fifty-two years after his death as a god in his own universe with Deka and Shahar. It is implied that maybe the original universe and its messed-up gods (whom we've gotten to know throughout the trilogy) are beyond saving. But at least the three new gods have a much better chance to get it right.
  • 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 (a brother and a sister and a genderless "Naha") are basically a polyamorous relationship; their godly children get their share of hanky-panky with each other and their parents. The mortals who witness it have to frequently remind themselves that it's different for gods. Lampshades Greek, Egyptian, and other real-world mythologies in which incest happens frequently.
    • 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. (Although it is unknown if the pair in question actually had sex, or if things progressed more...clinically, as the female half has a noted preference for ladies.)
  • Brought Down to Normal: Tempa, when he is trapped in mortal form, and Sieh, when he becomes mortal himself.
  • 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. She is in a serious relationship with one of her female servants.
  • Character Development:
    • The point of Nahadoth and Yeine sticking Bright Itempas in a human body. It works very well in this regard—majorly thanks to Oree and later her daughter Glee Shoth, Itempas learns to love truly and stops thinking of mortals as beneath him. He also learns some manners, as Oree finds out in the short story Not The End.]]
    • Sieh in the third book has this in bucketloads. After he befriends Shahar and Deka, Sieh finds himself truly caring for them, despite having always hated and thought bitterly of the Arameri. Then he is changed into a mortal, which terrifies and almost breaks him, but he becomes more used to the idea as time passes. And thanks to Glee Shoth, Sieh is forced to look at the causes of the Gods' War in a whole new light (in which all the gods shared some blame, and not just Itempas, as Sieh likes to believe), and it is because of this that Sieh finally begins to forgive Itempas for what he did and let him into his heart again.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Glee's knife.
    • The mask "decorations" that Sieh sees in a pub in book three.
  • The 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 multiple genocides and crushing local religious traditions. Also supporting the Arameri's tyrannical rule, ruthlessly executing heretics, and carefully controlling the populace with propaganda. In Yeine's opinion, and that of other Darrens, the "peace" is nothing but everyone being too crushed to do anything, and benefits no one but the Arameri.
  • Companion Cube: Sieh has a collection of stars and planets that he's miniaturized; his favourite sun, En, doubles as a ball when he wants to play, and he speaks to it like a person. It's at least empathic enough to flare up into a red giant when they have an argument.
  • Complete Immortality: Nahadoth and Itempas; it's implied that they can be Killed Off for Real, but doing so would end the universe. Enefa on the other hand shows more of a Body Backup Drive sort of immortality. She died, she's gone, and now Yeine has her place, but her power and place are never completely gone because it would also end the world.
  • 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, which prevents all life in the universe from ending — which had started to happen between Enefa's death and its creation. Word of God says it's an ovary.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: Established at the end of book three.
  • Creation Myth: Nahadoth, god of night and chaos, was the first to emerge from the chaotic Maelstrom. Then came Itempas, god of light and order, and finally Enefa, goddess of twilights and life. The three of them fashioned the world and mortals.
  • Did the Earth Move for You, Too?: When Yeine and Nahadoth do it, their passion engulfs the entire universe.
  • Disability Superpower: Oree is blind, but she can see magic.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: The four Physical Gods trapped in enslavement to the Arameri are euphemistically called the Enefadeh — since the Arameri outlawed slavery, clearly they can't be slaves. This sort of thing infuriates Yeine, since it shows that the Arameri deny their victims even the minimal respect of acknowledging that they victimize them.
  • Divine Incest: The three creator gods—Itempas, Enefa, and Nahadoth—are siblings and also in a polyamorous relationship. Their various children also have sexual relationships with each other as well as with their parents. Human societies shown in the novels have an incest taboo but concede that it doesn't apply to the gods who walk among them.
  • Divine–Infernal Family: The three creator Gods Nahadoth, Itempas, and Enefa are siblings born of the Primordial Chaos. They're all of decidedly grey morality, but after Itempas' coup against the others, the state religion of the Arameri Empire portrayed him as the ultimate good and Nahadoth as evil.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Nahadoth is wild and destructive, but also deeply loving and empathetic. He balances out Itempas' rigidity.
  • Decadent Court: Sky the palace, where the Arameri have spent the last two thousand years indulging every depraved appetite that four captive gods can fuel and scheming to increase their own power within the dynasty.
  • Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?: Yeine is seriously attracted to Nahadoth, even though he's so powerful that he routinely kills his mortal lovers by mistake. (Or on purpose, if they're Arameri and they're foolish enough to tell him to do whatever he likes.)
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When Yeine tries to stop Menchey and their allies from declaring war on Darr, one of the councillors tries to hit her. Nahadoth shields her, and the guy starts turning into black diamond when his hand hits the shield—and then when his friends try to cut his arm off to stop the diamond spreading, it jumps to them, too. Yeine, horrified, tries to tell herself that he had it coming for trying to hit her, but can't really convince herself, and wonders if it might have been better if she hadn't asked Nahadoth not to kill anybody.
    • Yeine realizes ahead of time that her grandmother has essentially set her up to be raped during her rite of passage by choosing the strongest warrior she can find, so she smuggles a knife in and murders him while he's raping her. The Darre consider this deed to be a horrific example of this trope, and have a hard time deciding whether to make Yeine their leader or execute her.
  • Down in the Dumps: With a god named Dump, lord of discards.
  • The Empire: The Arameri Bright through its puppet Consortium and the power of four enslaved gods at its disposal. With the loss of its divine support, it is reduced to a Vestigial Empire by the third book, and is eventually dissolved entirely.
  • Fantastic Drug: The blood of Physical Gods is a powerful narcotic that grants a period of heightened awareness and magical power, which some godlings with a more utilitarian attitude towards their own divinity are happy to sell at top dollar.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: There are the Three full gods who made and manage the world. They have children called "godlings" who each have a strong nature (e.g.: Lil's nature is hunger, Madding's is obligation, etc) that attracts worshippers seeking blessings in that area, but the godlings tend to mix and mingle more freely with mortals.
  • 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.
  • From a Single Cell: The Enefadeh are somewhere between these. They're bound to serve the Arameri for all time (at least until Itempas is overthrown at the end of book 1), and not even killing themselves will stop their bodies from regenerating.
  • Gambit Pileup: The end of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a mess of plots, human and divine family power struggles with world-wide consequences.
  • Gloomy Gray: Discussed when Yeine creates an offshore castle. She makes it uniform grey at first, but adds colours and plants when someone drily asks if she wants the inhabitants Driven to Suicide.
  • God in Human Form: The Enefadeh, Itempas, Sieh.
  • God Is Flawed: And the Three made humans in their images, so Humans Are Flawed, too!
    • For a double-whammy, the gods and godlings can sense and change to the expectations and desires of others, both physically and mentally. As a result, some of the gods' flaws have been magnified by how they are reflected back upon them by their own flawed human creations - particularly Nahadoth's reputation as a capricious and monstrous seducer among his mortal captors.
  • God Is Neutral: The Three Gods who sustain the universe behave according to their divine affinities rather than any human morality, showing both said affinity's positive and negative traits.
  • God Was My Copilot: 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.
    • Yeine fears she will go native among the people of Sky, and her Darren countrywomen fear the same about her.
  • 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. This is particularly obvious 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.
    • If you can consider a Trickster and an Anthropomorphic Personification of chaos to be "good", then Sieh and Nahadoth have their moments throughout the series.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Also in book one, the Arameri have rankings of how close to the family you are; the most distant relatives (from the main family) are servants. Many of those lower rankings are gotten through being born of an unapproved union, like infidelity or relations with someone not Amn. So all of the mixed race people in Sky the Palace are servants except for Yeine.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: This is the major problem caused by Enefa's death. With her there, the world had harmony. With her gone, Itempas simply enforces brutal order in which it doesn't matter what kind of atrocities the Arameri commit so long as it keeps the world neat.
  • Henotheistic Society: The Arameri Empire is sponsored by and exclusively worships Itempas, the God of Order and Light, after a Divine Conflict where he murdered his sister, enslaved his brother Nahadoth, and recalled the lesser godlings from the planet. After the first book ends his monopoly, cults of Nahadoth return to open worship and godlings start attracting adherents.
  • High-Class Cannibal: The Arameri Dynasty rule the world with the power of four enslaved gods and enjoy whatever hedonistic pleasures they want in the palace of Sky. Some of them revived the old tribal practice of cannibalism, more or less For the Evulz.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the first book, Itempas knew where Enefa's soul was, and could have ended her at any time. But he just had to kill her in the presence of her remaining divine power - thus triggering her rebirth.
  • Horrifying Hero: Lil, goddess of hunger, manifests as a sickly-looking humanoid whose jaw hangs down to her knees and is filled with rows of fangs that rotate like chainsaw teeth. Still, she's quite pleasant in her own way, helps out the heroes out of kindness, once acts as The Cavalry and forces the book's Big Bad to flee, and ends up serving as guardian to a group of Street Urchins. She also makes amazing omelettes.
  • Human Resources: The primary antagonist in the second book gains power by eating the hearts of godlings.
  • Hybrid All Along: Oree finds out partway through The Broken Kingdoms that she's a demon, explaining her Wrong Context Magic. This poses her a bit of difficulty, given that the gods exterminated most demons for their Immortal Breaker blood and another Divine Conflict is looming.
  • I Have Many Names: After Nahadoth is 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).
  • Immortal Breaker: The blood of demons is a deadly poison to gods, who are otherwise unkillable by anything less than a more powerful god. Since the gods sired demons with humans, demons are mortal but Semi-Divine, so their blood can literally infect a god with the concept of mortality.
  • Immortal Immaturity: Sieh, the fourth oldest being in existence, and God of Childhood.
  • 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: Nahadoth and Itempas, at least in their backstory. Their relationship is something of a Masochism Tango.
  • Interspecies Romance: Mortals, gods and godlings and various pairings thereof.
  • Ironic Name: Sky the city, after the World Tree grows and leaves most of the city in its shadow.
  • Jerkass Gods: Potentially, all of them. But specifically in the first book, Itempas.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch:
    • It's hard to really feel sorry for Scimina when she gets handed over to Nahadoth to torture and eventually kill.
    • It's also hard to feel for Serymn when she gets her tongue ripped out by T'Vril, and then also gets handed over to Nahadoth to torture and eventually kill.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • Sieh. Multiple references are made throughout the series that Sieh, the god of childhood, is one of the most thoughtlessly cruel of the godlings.
    • The first Shahar murders her dad. The second one isn't cruel, but sure is bratty.
  • Kill the God: The villains from The Broken Kingdoms attempt to kill Nahadoth and do succeed in murdering several godlings.
  • Kneel Before Frodo:
    Serymn looked, radiating disdain. “Is there something I should be seeing?”
    The Lord Arameri rose and descended the steps. At the foot of the steps, he abruptly turned toward us in a swirl of cloak and hair and dropped to one knee, with a grace I would never have expected of a man so powerful. From this, he said in a ringing tone, “Behold Our Lord, Serymn. Hail Itempas, Master of Day, Lord of Light and Order.”
  • Language of Magic: The language of the Gods is one — for the Gods themselves, it's just an extension of their Reality Warping power, but mortals can learn the language to draw on a trickle of divine magic. However, it's so complex that any human who tried to speak a spell would probably die by Magic Misfire, so they mostly access it in Geometric Magic form by "scrivening" spells.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Sieh starts out the third book by promising the reader that he'd pull no narrative "tricks" by revealing that he was, say, talking to his second soul or his unborn child—the Framing Devices for the first and second books, respectively.
  • Light Is Not Good: Itempas.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Nahadoth to Itempas. Because Itempas was so totally focused on order and unyielding sameness, when Naha started to spend more time with Enefa than him, he couldn't deal with feeling alone for the first time since time began and just went totally nuts.
  • Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: An issue for Nahadoth and Yeine, as well as Madding and Oree.
    • Scimina suggests this is Nahadoth's "favorite" way of killing Arameri - he seduces them until they give him too much freedom in exchange for a night of passion with a god. His human form Naha mentions in quiet horror the number of dead bodies he's woken up next to over the centuries.
  • May Fly December Romance:
    • Yeine and Nahadoth. Yeine is only nineteen in mortal years in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, while Nahadoth has already lived since before the beginning of the universe.
    • Oree and Madding, though Madding is one of the youngest godlings. He's still thousands of years older than her.
    • Oree and Tempa. Again, same as above.
    • Glee and Ahad
  • Meaningful Name: Maroneh girls, Oree included, have sorrowful names, while Maroneh boys have vengeance-oriented names. It's Nahadoth's fault.
  • Monochrome Casting: Averted, sometimes subverted. This world is a multiracial, multicultural world, with even the gods taking widely different appearances. Because of the way he is depicted in Amn art, there is an expectation for Itempas to be pale like them, but in actuality he takes the appearance of a Maroneh (black) man.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Each book reveals more and more about characters who seemed to have been established as bad, good, or grey. In the second book, Itempas becomes much more sympathetic; in the third, we learn that the Big Bad was created by a cruel decision of Enefa's (who had previously been presented as, though imperfect, the best of the Three) and that, for all his hatred of what Itempas did during the Gods' War, Sieh was actually a major cause of said war due to his thoughtlessness and dismissive stance on mortals. Also, it's accepted that as evil as the Arameri were, they are kind of necessary to keep the world from descending into all-out war.
  • Mother Nature, Father Science: Intentionally averted. 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.
  • Multiple Government Polity: The "Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" are all client states to the ruling Arameri family, and send representatives to the city of Sky to participate in a parliament-type body. Old enmities and Allowed Internal War are still maintained, but nobody is allowed to technically shed blood without Arameri permission. This sometimes results in an army waltzing in and conquering a neighbor simply by showing up.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: One of the reasons Itempas killed Enefa.
  • Mystical White Hair: White-haired Viraine is a Scrivener, who can wield magic power by using the gods' language; he's also the earthly vessel of Bright Itempas.
  • Nay-Theist: The primortalist movement from The Kingdom of Gods.
  • Not Hyperbole: Sieh extracts a promise from someone with a playful "Cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye?", per the children's rhyme. When they break their word, he shows up with some very large needles. He gets talked down before following through on the threat, but only just.
  • Nighttime Transformation: Nahadoth reverts to his true form at night, while during the day he is bound to mortal form.
  • The Old Gods: The universe and all lesser godlings were created by the Three old gods who manifested from the Primordial Chaos of the Maelstrom. Nahadoth, firstborn god of change and chaos, created the universe's substance; Itempas, secondborn god of order and stability, imposed rules and structure; and Enefa, goddess of life and death, gave the universe meaning and ultimately created mortals.
  • 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.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: This trope applies whenever a god acts against their "affinity", since it pains and weakens them to do so. Sieh, god of childhood, only appears as an adolescent or adult when he's very unhappy; and when Madding, god of obligation and Equivalent Exchange, stops keeping records of outstanding favours with Oree, it's a sign that he cares deeply for her.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Maskers.
  • Parental Incest: The Three had sex with many of the Godlings on top of eachother. Enefah sexually abusing Sieh is a plot point later in the series.
  • Physical Religion: The Arameri rule with the power of four captive gods, delivered into their custody by the Top God Bright Itempas, who also oversees their succession ritual. By the second book, those gods are freed and loads of minor and major deities are active on the planet; some demand formal worship, while others have more businesslike or amicable arrangements with their followers.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Covered or made of demon blood.
  • Power Trio: The Three.
    • Sieh, Deka, and Shahar.
  • Primordial Chaos: The Maelstrom, from which the gods were born.
  • 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.
  • Puppet King: In theory, the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms are jointly ruled by the Nobles Consortium and the Church of Itempas, with the Arameri family as "advisors". In practice, the Arameri dynasty are ruthless and absolute rulers, their will enforced by the Enefadeh, and everyone knows it.
  • Rape and Revenge: How Yeine's rite of passage works out. The Darre are horrified by what they consider Disproportionate Retribution and the death of a valuable man.
  • Really 700 Years Old: All the gods and godlings who aren't Time Abysses, since they were rendered sterile after Enefa's death two thousand years before the trilogy begins. When Yeine assumes Enefa's power, new godlings start to come into the picture.
  • La Résistance: Usein Darr's High Norther movement.
  • Regional Redecoration: A historical Caligula made the mistake of ordering Nahadoth to destroy an enemy army without telling it what not to destroy. It promptly transformed into a miniature black hole that shattered the entire Maroland continent.
  • Restraining Bolt: Remina's forehead mark in the third book. As the twin brother of the current head of the Arameri family, he has an equal claim to the title—which he doesn't want, but nevertheless, existing makes him a threat. Since his sister doesn't want to kill him any more than he wants to kill her, she had her scriveners work a sigil in to prevent him from acting against her.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Yeine tries. And there are apparently a number of Arameri who actually do try to something useful in the world, but overall they are not actual contenders for the throne.
  • 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. Or rather, raping someone or being being raped - publicly - depending on the outcome of a ritual wrestling match.
  • 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.
  • Shining City: Depending on whose point of view you're talking about, 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.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Itempas and Nahadoth. The former is the god of day, light, and order. The latter is the god of night, darkness, and chaos. Their love for each other is matched only by their frustration with each other.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Sieh acts like one on a regular basis, murdering dozens in his temper tantrums and regularly threatening to do horrific things to others with little evidence of regret. Which makes complete sense, since he's the God of Childhood and both sociopaths and children are severely lacking of empathy and forethought.
  • 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, conceived after their one night of passion.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: When the Maelstrom manifests within the universe, it blots out everything in its wake — and everyone can see it in real time despite the thousands of lightyears of distance, since it also absorbs the laws of physics that would have prevented that.
  • Storming the Castle: Maskers in Sky.
  • Straight Gay: Deka is this, though he's never shown to have any interest in anyone except Sieh.
  • Stern Sun Worshippers: The Itempan Church. Justified since Itempas is the god of order and light.
  • Suffrage and Political Liberation: Eino is a teenage boy advocating for political rights and financial independence for men in the Darre Matriarchy while trying to avoid an Arranged Marriage.
  • Time Skip: Ten years between book one and two, and a century between two and three.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: When Nahadoth is really angry over an unsolved deicide in Sky, he shrouds the city in an unending solar eclipse and gives the natives 30 days to resolve the situation. Weirdly, the eclipse is only visible within the city — or to people from the city, no matter how far they go to try to escape it.
  • Uncanny Valley: Sieh, per Word of God
    I focused on depicting the quintessential creepiness of him — the ancient soul that is always visible through his child’s eyes, the calculating adult mind which uses the wiles of a child to conceal its true complexity. But it’s hard to keep "creepy" from edging into "repulsive". Sieh exists in a perpetual Uncanny Valley state; he looks and acts like something that he isn’t. Something we’re supposed to feel affection toward, not fear.
  • Wizard Workshop:
  • World Tree: After the Enefadah are freed, Yeine creates a big ass tree to hold up Sky, which had previously been held up by the Enefadeh's powers and a very tall very thin pillar. It stretches well beyond the atmosphere and covers Sky-the-city in its shade.
  • 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. In The Broken Kingdoms, it's explained a little more in-depth: Itempas didn't mind Enefa and Nahadoth being together. The problem was that for a moment, they forgot him and thought only of one another, making him alone for the first time in his entire existence- and being alone was his personal antithesis, literally wounding his soul. That, combined with his mortal lover murdering their son while he was still weakened, drove him to do what he did prior to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms- murdering Enefa because when it was just him and Nahadoth, he was never alone. 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.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: Godlings born of both Nahadoth (Chaos) and Itempas (Order) are divine versions of this — vanishingly rare but very powerful, thanks to the conflict inherent in their nature. One of them is Lil, goddess of Hunger, who's pretty much insane by mortal standards but can drive off a deicidal demon that absorbed the powers of several of her lesser half-siblings.
  • 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.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: A miniature one almost killed Yeine's father (the "almost" is because the Enefadeh intervened in exchange for putting Enefa's soul into the as-yet-unborn Yeine). They're never actually called zombies in the book, but the Arameri basically had the actual zombie apocalypse weaponized. As in, they could direct it, and turn it on and off at will. And yes, they did use it. Never on-page, but frequently before the start of the book.

Alternative Title(s): The Inheritance Trilogy