You’ve already heard me wax rhapsodic about Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy, a gorgeously written trio of books that managed to be epic yet intimate. The Killing Moon, set in a new universe, has that same epic-yet-intimate feel. Huge events are in play in the city of Gujaareh (a place whose culture is modeled on ancient Egypt), but at its heart, the book is the story of three very sympathetic and compelling characters.
The book opens with Ehiru, a servant of the goddess Hananja, performing his most sacred task. Ehiru is not merely a priest — he is a Gatherer, someone who ends the suffering of dying citizens by sending them off to their happiest dreams. He is also tasked with Gathering those who threaten or corrupt Gujaareh. Nijiri, a young acolyte of Hananja’s order, hopes to become Ehiru’s apprentice and follow the challenging path of the Gatherer. Meanwhile Sunandi, a diplomat and spy from the Kisua Protectorate, attempts to solve the mystery of her predecessor’s death.
The Killing Moon has a bit of a learning curve, so don’t worry if you spend the first pages confused about what’s going on. I was right there with you. I promise you will catch on without even realizing it — Jemisin has a gift for making the workings of a complex world clear without spending a lot of time reciting back story.
It helps that we have something of a guide to Gujaareh in Sunandi, who is a foreigner in the city and has a very different perspective on what the Gatherers do than Gujaareen citizens. It also helps that Sunandi, Ehiru, and Nijiri become so sympathetic so quickly. I love characters who survive by their brains and Sunandi definitely qualifies. I also loved the complex, emotional relationship between Ehiru and Nijiri. The young acolyte’s character arc is one of the most moving coming-of-age stories I’ve read in a long time.
The Killing Moon is a complex book and can be dark at times; it’s not a popcorn read. But if you’re in the mood for something layered and absorbing, The Killing Moon is for you. I was genuinely heartbroken when the book ended — not because the ending was unsatisfying, but because I missed those characters and that world the moment I finished the final page. I can’t wait to read The Shadowed Sun, the second book in this duology.
Rating: Buy It