Synopsis from publisher -
The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon. In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers - the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt. But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh's great temple, Ehiru - the most famous of the city's Gatherers - must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess' name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh's alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill - or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.
My thoughts -
Boy, this novel just made me happy from start to finish. There is not much I love more than a fantasy novel with an interesting, complex world and strong characters, and this had both in spades.
Jemisin's world is like nothing I've ever read before. She says it has influences from ancient Egypt, but there is so much more than that going on. The psychology and theology of this world are brilliantly executed, and so much more complex than one novel can encompass. I'm happy that there is another novel set in the same world, but I have a feeling even after reading that one I still won't be able to completely understand everything Jemisin has conceived for Gujaareh.
"The shadows of Ina-Karekh are the place where nightmares dwell, but not their source. Never forget: the shadowlands are not elsewhere. We create them. They are within." (p. 256)
Jemisin's characters are flawed and honest, and the relationships between them one of the strengths of her novel. Allowing the reader to see things from multiple perspectives gives a much more rounded view of the events that take place, and make the typical "good guys" and "bad guys" difficult to delineate.
One of my favorite parts of this novel was the ending - as in, it has one. Fantasy novels that are part of a series are notorious for leaving the reading hanging at the end of a particularly awful cliffhanger. Jemisin gives her book a conclusion - it's one that leaves the reader wanting more, but it is also satisfying and allows the book to feel like an entity in itself.
If you are looking for a new fantasy author to get lost in, I'd encourage you to give Jemisin a try. She would be a great choice for Aarti's More Diverse Universe reading tour (which I certainly hope we will get to participate in again in 2013!). Also, she was born in Iowa City, so I have to give the local girl some love! I enjoyed this novel from start to finish, and I highly recommend it to fans of the genre.
Finished - 2/1/13
Source - South Side library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for violence and adult situations
My rating - 9/10