Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"The Killing Moon" by N.K. Jemisin

I don't know how Jemisin writes so quickly, but it seems like every time I look into what she's working on, she's already written two new books. So, it came to some surprise to me that she'd written The Killing Moon (and its sequel) so soon after the end of her Hundred Thousand Kingdoms trilogy. But, hey, Jemisin's speed is good news to me, as it means never waiting for the next book!

In some ways I think the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms trilogy is a hard act to follow. I enjoyed the series' worldbuilding and particularly the conceit of gods being used as human slaves. Throughout the three books, Jemisin was able to explore very different characters while still keeping the focus on individual relationships. With The Killing Moon, Jemisin has to start over with her worldbuilding, which this time was a little less interesting to me. In this series, the city of Gujaareh lives in obedience to Hananja's law. The principle servants of Hananja are Gatherers, who control dreams as a way of bringing peace--and death. Ehiru, an esteemed and experienced Gatherer, and Nijiri, his devoted apprentice, are the two main characters, with the foreign Kisua ambassador Sunandi making a third.

Though the worldbuilding and religion got a bit murky for me, the character relationships, particularly between Ehiru and Nijiri, are just as strong. On the other hand, Sunandi felt a bit like the odd one out, and I'm not sure her role in the novel is as important. Regardless, the book came to an appropriate, exciting, and heartbreaking denouement.

I was trying to decide why I've been such a fan of Jemisin's fantasy, and in the "extra" self-interview included at the end of the novel, I think I discovered why. Jemisin is one of few fantasy writers who includes no inspiration from medieval Europe. No castles, knights, or jousting. She said this book was loosely inspired by Egyptian history, and it's clear that drawing from a different originating point makes her books feel different and new. Her fantasy feels fresh in a way that A Game of Thrones, for example, doesn't, regardless of its characters or plot..

I'm sure I'll read The Shadowed Sun (the sequel to The Killing Moon) soon enough--just in time to discover the newest four books Jemisin's written.


  1. This week is the first time I've heard of Jemisin and it seems like everyone loves her work.

  2. She's great! Especially if you're tired of the "same old" with fantasy worldbuilding.