The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal


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Book Review: The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin
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WHY hasn't this woman won the Hugo, the Nebula, the Compton Crook, the World Fantasy and any other award we can give her? It is a crime against the SFF community that she has not. There, I got that off my chest. For once, I agree with Locus, who gave her an award last year.

Nora Jemisin is THE most original voice in Fantasy to emerge in the past five years. I include a lot of other people in that statement, and feel free to tell me I'm fulla stuff if you want.

Why is she so good?

Well, aside from the fact that her Inheritance Trilogy is deep, highly original (in other words it doesn't take place in a phony medieval europe without slops and bathrooms) and has a fascinating plot. She thinks even more deeply than Neil Gaiman has about the nature of godhead, and what it might look like to be inside the head of a god(dess).

And damn! The books are for readers, not the intelligentsia. They carry you along all the way through to the end, breathlessly.

So.

Now we get to The Killing Moon, book one in the Dreamblood duology. Lookie, an author that can get it all said in two books, instead of three or more. Cool, neh?

The Killing Moon is even more interesting as a world building exercise than the Inheritance Trilogy. Set on the moon of a Gas Giant planet, the priest of Hananja the goddess of dreams, Inunru, discovers that some people are sensitive and can interact with each other in the land of dreams, Ina-Karekh. Highly influenced by the religion and civilization of ancient Egypt, Jemisin builds a world in which Gatherers collect the essence of dreams, the dreamblood, and give it to healers to aid healing the sick. When the Gatherers gather, they allow a person to slip away to Ina-Karekh, to die really, and the Gatherers give them a dream full of bliss to send them on their way.

Wanna live there? Probably not. The Gatherers often go mad, and become Reapers who kill indiscriminately and instead of guiding the soul (like the Egyptian Ba) to the afterworld, they destroy the soul as well as the body.

Inunru was hounded out of his homeland, and he founded a city-state called Gujaareh, full of his followers, goddess-worshippers and sensitives.

Centuries later, Jemisin's story opens with Ehiru, a Gatherer, facing a great mystery and a moral quandary that can only be dealt with if he goes against the entire priesthood of Hananja. There is a Reaper in the city, and somebody is protecting it, and using it to kill people's souls. Is the culprit the priesthood? Is it the Prince of the city? Is it a rogue Reaper?

Like her other novels, The Killing Moon
moves very swiftly. She deftly mixes spare but atmospheric description with clean, clear dialog that carries the reader to the end of the story.

The second book in the duology The Shadowed Sun will be out in June.

Go buy this book. If you haven't read any of her other novels, you must. This woman is a fantastic writer. Buy this book!

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