I’ll post pics and shout-outs from RT later this week; it was a lot of fun, but I’m still in the grind on book 3 and now working on copyedits for book 2, so necessarily limiting my blogging time ’til that’s done.
Anyway, Kinneth. I could have — and did, in an early short story that hasn’t been published — written whole additional tales about her, beyond the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Yeine is in many ways her shadow, and I don’t just mean in the symbolic sense (i.e., Kinneth was white and Yeine is brown; Kinneth is Arameri, a servant of the Bright, and Yeine is from a “darkling” race and later, the Mistress of Twilight). Yeine is keenly aware throughout the story that she’s a lesser Kinneth, and that much of what she has to do to survive in Sky is a reaction to things her mother did. The easy thing to do would’ve been to write the story from Kinneth’s perspective, given that — but this is a story about legacies, at its heart, and so Yeine’s tale drew me more. We are all, as Nahadoth told Yeine, the sum of what our past has made us.
And Kinneth is very much a product of her parents’ issues. I don’t know much about her mother Ygreth, other than that like most Arameri spouses, she came from some high-ranking Amn family. Since most high-ranking Amn families are also Arameri offshoots, this means that Ygreth — like Yeine — was dragged back into the viper pit of her “family” in Sky, probably without knowing quite what was expected of her. I imagine Ygreth’s relationship with the younger Dekarta was a bit fraught at first; Dekarta was cruel and jaded even back then. Most likely he never intended to love her, and he was probably aware of the dangers of doing so (that is, that he might have to kill her as part of the succession). But love isn’t always a planned, controllable thing — and when the time came for Dekarta’s Ritual of Succession, his mother forced him to make a choice: his wife, or his equally beloved daughter. The whole point of the ritual, after all, is to prove that the heir has the cojones/ovarios to kill even their most beloved fellow Arameri. (Though it doesn’t work quite that way in the case of multiple heirs.) I haven’t written this story yet so none of this is solid in my mind, but I believe Ygreth would have told Dekarta her choice: to become the sacrifice in place of their daughter, and to conceal the truth from Kinneth so that she could grow up without knowing her father murdered her mother. Dekarta did these things to honor Ygreth’s wishes.
But Kinneth was a smart, observant girl, and killing his wife probably had a greater emotional impact on Dekarta than he intended; he didn’t do a very good job of concealing the truth. Kinneth figured it out. And unfortunately for Dekarta, Kinneth had inherited his temper. Everything that followed — Kinneth’s bargain with the Enefadeh, her courtship with Yeine’s father — pretty much constituted her roaring rampage of revenge.
What I’m intrigued by, however, are the moments when Kinneth wavered from her course of vengeance. Dekarta raised her to be devout in her worship of Itempas, and her vow of vengeance actually reflects this; the Itempan faith puts a lot of weight on justice and balance. It’s very much an eye for an eye kind of religion. But she turned away from her faith because that was, ironically, the only way she could counter Dekarta’s power. Also, she genuinely loved Yeine’s father, though she’d initially meant to simply use him — in this, too, she turned out to be like Dekarta. She tried to kill Yeine at birth, knowing that Yeine was to be the instrument through which the Enefadeh might free themselves and touch off another Gods’ War. Yeine speculates that Kinneth decided to let her live only because Yeine had a soul of her own, and therefore should make the choice (to become the gods’ weapon, or not) herself; this is true. In addition to this, Kinneth originally meant to tell Yeine the truth about her other soul someday — but I think that over the years, Kinneth soured on revenge, or at least the idea of using her daughter as a weapon. I think that gradually Kinneth became more a reflection of her mother (protective, sacrificing) than her father (willing to kill even loved ones to achieve a goal), and she chose to keep the truth from Yeine because she just wanted Yeine to be happy.
I can’t say whether Kinneth would be pleased with the way things turned out. Sure, Yeine’s happy, but she isn’t quite Kinneth’s daughter anymore. Like most successful revenge scenarios, Yeine’s ascension represents a bittersweet victory for Kinneth. But I suspect that, once Yeine became the goddess of life and death, she probably traveled to the heavens and the hells to visit her mother’s soul and have a chat about all this. Unfortunately, that’s a story that may never be told.