Shades in Shadow: An Inheritance Triptych


By N. K. Jemisin

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around July 28, 2015. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Three brand new short stories by Hugo, Nebula & World Fantasy Award nominated author N.K. Jemisin, set in the world of the Inheritance trilogy.

From the shadows of the greater stories, away from the bright light of Sky and wending ’round the sagas of the Arameri, come three quieter tales. A newborn god with an old, old soul struggles to find a reason to live. A powerful demon searches for her father, and answers. And in a prequel to the Inheritance Trilogy, a newly-enslaved Nahadoth forges a dark alliance with a mortal, for survival. . . and revenge.

Return to the world of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in these three interconnected short tales.



“When I am free,” he said, “I will choose who shapes me.”

“But…” I frowned. “That isn’t freedom.”

“At the dawn of reality I was myself. There was nothing and no one else to influence me—only the Maelstrom that had given birth to me, and it did not care. I tore open my flesh and spilled out the substance of what became your realm: matter and energy and cold black blood. I devoured my own mind and reveled in the novelty of pain.”

Tears sprang to my eyes. I swallowed hard and tried to will them away, but abruptly the hands returned, lifting my chin. Fingers stroked my eyes shut, brushing the tears away.

“When I am free, I will choose,” he said again, whispering, very close.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, chapter 22: “Such Rage”

*  *  *



Want is a thing. Nahadoth has never lost the habit of attempting to classify things, because things were once so difficult to understand. At the beginning. Time is a thing, too; Nahadoth knows this now, has accepted the conceptualization of beginningness and endingness and whereness and whoness because these are all things that make life more interesting, though it is also interesting to discard them. Whatness, however, is always hard. Nahadoth is everything, after all.

No. Nahadoth—he? He, per Itempas’s decree, how predictable—he is not everything. There was a beforetime in which Nahadoth encompassed all that could be perceived, except that which was Maelstrom. But that time is long past, and he does not miss it, because now there is another he and for a time there was a her and after that, many. Among and apart from them all, he has become the whatness that is called Nahadoth.

He savors his name again for the several quintillionth time, marveling again at its whole round syllables, its perfect appropriateness. He has loved this name, this thing, since Itempas first bestowed it upon him. His name is a good thing, and he likes it.

Itempas was a good thing, too, once.

Nahadoth wants and does not know what or why.

*  *  *

The boy is not lost the first time he comes. Many mortals stumble upon Nahadoth’s chamber and just as quickly flee. This one sought him out. That is a new thing, though not interesting in and of itself. Simply different.

Nahadoth’s chamber is a room in a place. The body into which Itempas has chained Nahadoth resides here, anchoring him in the mortal realm, so it is fitting that the room is at the bottom of a building. And within the room is a chamber—a pit, really, into which the mortals have thrown him. How poetic. Perhaps it is better called a well. It has a wall. And he wells at the bottom of it, a living spring gushing forth everything that they hate—even though if he did not do so, they would cease to exist. By keeping him here, they hope to contain the curling, liquid eddies of substance that appear on those occasions when the world spins into shadow, and the body leaks some fraction of his darkness. (The body sleeps at the bottom of the dark well by day. He has no power over it, other than that, but he is too jealous of what he has to give even that up.) He stays where they have put him because he does not care. One place in the mortal realm is as bad as another. But he is also out, about, roaming, because that is what he is, and all wheres are everywhere to him. He is Nahadoth, and that is everywhere and everything, except wherever and whatever the Maelstrom is and wherever and whatever his siblings are.

Sibling. Just one now. That is a thing, a familiar one, but not a good one.

He is contemplating this loss when the boy comes, and perhaps because of this Nahadoth does not notice at first. Another mortal, another day. This one says something, or maybe whispers, or maybe laughs. Nahadoth pays no attention until suddenly the boy thrusts his face into him.

A trivial distinction. The room is dim. The boy was already within him. But the boy breaches the surface of the well’s blackness, and that is different. Different is interesting, so Nahadoth does not remove the boy’s face. Yet.

“So it isn’t true.” The boy, who has bent to plunge his head into what resembles a pool of relentless black, laughs a little. (This tickles.) “They said…Well, they say a lot of things about you.” He straightens, wiping his face without thinking, then looks surprised to find his hand dry. Then he chuckles again.

There is something in the boy’s laugh that Nahadoth understands. That unsteadiness, with a core of emptiness. That little waver, as if the laugh teeters between humor and hysteria and utter falseness. There is a black hole in this one’s soul.

“Haangratsajim,” the boy says, bowing with a flourish. “That’s my name, if you’re wondering. No one here can pronounce it—it’s Ostei—so I’m just Haan now. It’s on the papers they gave me. Haan Arameri, bought and paid for, all proper.”

Ostei no longer exists. The gods’ warring destroyed it and its inhabitants, save for a handful of survivors. Nahadoth remembers seducing a princess there once, before Itempas’s madness. That princess had been a wild creature, irresponsible and full of joy, who had drawn Nahadoth’s attention by standing on a cliff and shouting at the moon. For no particular reason, she’d said, when Nahadoth manifested and drew her close and kissed more shouts out of her. Because life. Ostei had been full of wild ones like her.

This one is different, Nahadoth senses—a cold wildness, rather than hot.

“Bought and paid for,” the boy whispers, and then his face changes. He turns as this happens, so that his back is to the well and his face is out of sight. Or he would be, if the room’s shadows were not also Nahadoth, and if Nahadoth actually needed eyes to see. So Nahadoth sees the sudden bloom of teeth in the shadows and understands that the boy is smiling a hunter’s smile.

“I am a thing,” the boy says softly. “That’s what they’ve decided I am, and so that is what I will be. A thing need not bother with human niceties, yes? So now they will see.”

This is more interesting than Nahadoth had assumed. He settles in to watch, glad of a respite from the boredom.

*  *  *

The boy goes away eventually. Nahadoth chooses not to think for a time.

But he roams, because he cannot help himself. Everywhere there is darkness, Nahadoth exists. (In the language that Itempas has created, Nahadoth is the word for things that cannot be perceived, cannot be comprehended, can only be unleashed.) He does not pay attention to most of what he detects via the dark that is his ears and skin and teeth and guts. Most of it is routine, and supremely boring. Stars—sparkle flare sparkle. Planets—spin shatter spin. Life—chatter chitter chatter. The unutterable tedium of a breathing, beating universe.

(But it is more interesting than the universe before Itempas, so he does not complain.)

Nahadoth supposes he should pay attention to the locality that encompasses his flesh more often, since most of him will be confined here for the foreseeable future. He is aware of this whereness, peripherally, because the body occasionally demands his attention. It hungers; it itches; someone has poked it. It sleeps and tries to dream, though his presence within it sucks the dreams away into a dark place. Remarkably irritating, these interruptions, as much by their constancy as their banality. Perhaps Itempas means to annoy him into submission.

Anger. That is a thing, too.

He reverberates with anger, then snarls and makes himself stop when he inadvertently harmonizes with the vibration of the universe. The universe is an angry place these days, but he does not want harmony of any kind. Itempas can force him into a kind of union, into the shape of this flesh, but Nahadoth will not join with Itempas again willingly, which is what Itempas wants. (Nahadoth also means “that which cannot be controlled.”)

Yet as the resonance of anger fades, he becomes aware of an echo nearby, so close that he almost failed to notice it. For a moment, it felt like part of himself. Pounding anger, hand-shaking anger, anger that fires the blood and embitters the mouth and screams and screams and screams…

*  *  *

Someone commands him to stop screaming, and the chains drag him into silence.

*  *  *

The boy again.


  • "[It] shines for its remarkable characters and graceful prose" -—Library Journal (Starred Review) on The Killing Moon
  • "Jemisin proves yet again that she is one of the important new writers in the sff scene." -—Kate Elliott, author of Cold Fire, on The Killing Moon
  • "[A] gripping series well as a rousing political and supernatural adventure."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on The Killing Moon
  • This is a book that readers won't be able to put down...A magnificent novel and one of the best books this reviewer has read this year."—RT Book Reviews on The Inheritance trilogy
  • "N.K. Jemisin has written a fascinating epic fantasy where the stakes are not just the fate of kingdoms but of the world and the universe."— on The Inheritance trilogy
  • "The very best kind of sequel: as lush and evocative and true as the first, with all the same sense of mystery, giving us the world and characters we already love, and yet with a new story and a wonderfully new perspective on the whole dazzling world and pantheon the author has built."—Naomi Novik on The Inheritance trilogy
  • "Jemisin's engaging debut grabs readers right from the start...a complex, edge-of-your-seat story with plenty of funny, scary, and bittersweet twists."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on The Inheritance trilogy
  • "A compelling page-turner."—The Onion A.V. Club on The Inheritance trilogy

On Sale
Jul 28, 2015
Page Count
60 pages

N. K. Jemisin

About the Author

N. K. Jemisin is the first author in the genre’s history to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugo Awards, all for her Broken Earth trilogy. Her work has also won the Nebula, Locus, and Goodreads Choice Awards. She was a reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, and she has been an instructor for the Clarion and Clarion West writing workshops. In her spare time she is a gamer and gardener, and she is also single-handedly responsible for saving the world from KING Ozzymandias, her dangerously intelligent ginger cat, and his phenomenally destructive sidekick Magpie.

Learn more about this author