NK Jemisin is a very good writer. I loved the Broken Earth books, so I approached this one with high expectations. It’s a tale set in a civilization not unlike ancient Egypt and Nubia, as she explains in her author’s note. Most of the action takes place in the city of Gujaareh.
The central concept is the worship of Hananja, goddess of dreams. All magic seems to revolve around those dreams and the four elements that can be gathered therefrom. Principal characters include Ehiru and Nijiri, gatherers who take dreamblood from the dying, the Prince of Gujaareh, and Sunandi, the Kisuati ambassador to Gujaareh.
I’m not going to spoil the plot, but the story revolves around the ambition of the prince and the gatherers’ opposition to it.
It was a good read, but I found the book oddly less engaging than the Broken Earth stories. Maybe it was the background, but I think it was the characters. I found it hard to empathise with the gatherers. They seemed altogether too uncompromising, too certain of their own path. Sunandi, on the other hand, was a joy to read.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a very good book, but for me not quite up there with previous ‘Jemisins’.
Recommended, because you may well disagree with me about that, and it’s certainly one of the best books I’ve read this year.