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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different and enjoyable epic fantasy
In the city-state of Gujaareh, power is split between the ruling Prince and the priests of the dream goddess Hananja. The priests have magic based on the power of dreams, with which they can heal the sick. One sect, the Gatherers, is dedicated to helping people peacefully pass over when their time has come. However, when the Gatherer Ehiru discovers he has been...
Published on 15 May 2012 by A. Whitehead

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first in the `Dreamblood Series
Ms Jemisin was commissioned by Orbit publishers for two books. The first book is titled The Killing Moon and the second is The Shadowed, over all they were known as the `Dreamblood series'. The back drop and landscape that story sits in, is one steeped in ancient Egyptian culture, without the pyramids. The narrative blends religion and politics, the land of the city state...
Published on 17 Aug 2012 by Amazon Customer


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different and enjoyable epic fantasy, 15 May 2012
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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In the city-state of Gujaareh, power is split between the ruling Prince and the priests of the dream goddess Hananja. The priests have magic based on the power of dreams, with which they can heal the sick. One sect, the Gatherers, is dedicated to helping people peacefully pass over when their time has come. However, when the Gatherer Ehiru discovers he has been manipulated into trying to kill an innocent, he realises that Gujaareh is threatened by a conspiracy lurking at the very heart of the nation.

The Killing Moon is the first novel in the Dreamblood duology, the latest work from N.K. Jemisin (the author of the Inheritance Trilogy, which I have not yet read). It's an epic fantasy, but one that proudly discards the limitations of a Medieval European setting. Gujaareh is inspired by the legends and mythology of ancient Egypt, although it is not a carbon copy (there are no pyramids, sphinxes or mummies), and the novel draws upon Carl Jung's ideas about the collective unconscious to provide its unique magic system.

The setting is vividly described. The planet Gujaareh is located upon is a moon circling a gas giant (the 'Killing Moon' of the title is actually the gas giant, although confusingly the cover art depicts a red-coloured version of our moon) which makes for an interesting day/night cycle. This feeds into the power of night, sleep and dreams which provides the book with its spine. Gujaareh itself is a compelling location, built to withstand annual floods and with a complex mixture of native and foreign influences: like ancient Egypt, Gujaareh is not a monolithic state, but one where people from across the world can be found, trading or negotiating.

Ehiru, our central character, is an expert at using the power of dream magic and is trying to pass his knowledge onto his apprentice, Nijiri. This process is interrupted by the discovery of a possible threat to the country, which Ehiru is compelled to investigate. Sunandi, an ambassador from the southern nation of Kisua, completes our central triptych of characters. Though there are occasional chapters from other POVs, these three viewpoints dominate the novel. Each is a fascinating character, with Sunandi being a capable and intelligence diplomat who is sometimes undone by arrogance. Ehiru is determined and resolute, but is also prone to become unhealthily obsessed, to the point of endangering himself. Nijiri is highly capable but lacks confidence. He's our 'young, tallow youth' viewpoint but amusingly that's more his own assessment of his abilities than the reality. All are painted with colour and depth.

The novel is a fast read, with a cracking pace that still allows time for some interesting characterisation. Something that Gujaareh shares with ancient Egypt is a certain rigid inflexibility in its traditions (something Pratchett notably satirised in his novel Pyramids, the only other Egyptian-flavoured fantasy that immediately comes to mind) but also the ability to adapt once those limitations are exposed. This extends to the micro-level of the characters, who each find their view of the world widened by the events of the book. This self-realisation is hardly new in concept (Nijiri becomes more confident, Sunandi becomes a bit more open to other cultures) but is executed with skill.

Where the novel falters is in its denouncement, which feels both rushed and a little too neat. This does mean that The Killing Moon works excellently as a stand-alone novel (there are little to no elements left dangling for the sequel, The Shadowed Sun).

The Killing Moon (****½) is available now in the UK and USA. The sequel will be published in June.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Palace of Dreams, 23 May 2012
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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I was put on to 'The Killing Moon' by a glowing review on a fantasy review blog. The reviewer made the book seem so great and so innovative, it was impossible not to read and see why he'd waxed so lyrical.

For the first hundred pages I thought I'd made a terrible mistake. Much is made in fantasy circles about Jemisin's desire to break from traditional fantasy conventions, most notably moving away from a setting based on medieval Europe. For 'The Killing Moon' the basis for the setting is, apparently, ancient Egypt. I didn't particularly pick up on the Egyptian references, but definitely felt a middle eastern flavour through the novel's descriptions of art, culture and religion. Whether it was because the setting took me out of my comfort zone (there's a reason most fantasy is set where it is; because the readers like it), or because Jemisin tried to accomplish too much too quickly, I'm not sure, but I found the opening chapters stilted and hard to follow.

The magic and religion of 'The Killing Moon' are innovative, being based on dreams. The novel follows (in part) a pair of 'Gatherers' who can enter people's dreams and draw out their life-force, sending them happily into the next world. To be gathered is considered a religious honour in the nation of Gujaareh, but an abomination by neighbouring Kisua. The Gatherers are one of the four religious disciplines that form the backbone of Gujaareh society, and have a strict code of honour regarding worship of the 'Goddess'. Alongside the church, Gujaareh is ruled by a Prince; who in the tradition of a many middle-eastern rulers, has hundreds of wives and murdered all his relatives on the way to the throne.

'The Killing Moon' has many concepts and locations that are similar to one another, either in character or name. During the opening hundred pages I must have consulted the glossary twenty or thirty times. This made for a frustrating and broken read, preventing me from following what was going on. It was almost too much, but I persevered and I am glad that I did. I often find with novels, that effort put in up front pays dividends in the later stages. My hard-earned understanding of the world Jemisin had created, meant her story's conclusion delivered a greater emotional pay off.

Again eschewing many of the tropes of the genre, the loyalties of Jemisin's characters are multifaceted and display varying shades of grey. Good and evil are malleable concepts, in a way that extends far beyond most fantasy novels. The story is complex, a tale of religious and political conflict, and its subtleties manifold. Overall it's a rich and enjoyable tale.

'The Killing Moon' is a complete story, but open-ended; the first of two 'Dreamblood' novels. Though I struggled at first, by the time I'd reached the novel's enthralling conclusion I was hooked by Jemisin's style and the depth of her world-building. I look forward to reading the second novel, and catching up on her backlist.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking new series from this wonderful author, 8 May 2012
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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Having fallen for NK's writing style in her previous series, I was more than interested to see what she'd come up with in a new saga altogether. After all following on from a successful story is not only a daunting prospect for the author but for the reader who will unscrupulously compare the two to check that the qualities that they fell in love with are within this latest release.

What NK does is bring together the elements that won her the fans in the first together with wonderful world building. The characters are fully rounded, the pace is solid and when added to her overall arc alongside wonderful use of prose, makes this a new title that readers will find hard to put down. If you're in doubt about diving in, borrow from your local library and you too will soon see the magic that brought many readers in has quickly bent you to its will.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and fascinating, 26 Nov 2012
By 
Beanie Luck (Cotswolds) - See all my reviews
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If you love fantasy like i do, then you can get increasingly frustrated by the drivel that gets released that people have the audacity to call fantasy.

This however fills all of my expectations and more.

Based on Egyptian mythology, i connected with the story right away.

In some aspects it reminded me of stars wars and especially tatooine, i am not sure why, i think it was the desert planet and the fact that it revolved around a gas giant, again not sure why but this thought stuck in my mind, and if im honest kinda made the whole thing make more sense in my head.

I am happily purchasing the next in the series : The Shadowed Sun: Dreamblood: Book 2 and will also be purchasing book 3 when it becomes available.

I recommended this book to both my brothers who are huge fantasy fans and they both loved it as well.

Worth the purchase !!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of the ordinary, 20 Sep 2012
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I must admit that I had very few expectations for this title, and for the following reasons; despite being an avid fantasy reader, this author was not known to me and despite the handful of glowing reviews, which can always be chalked up to over-enthusiastic fans of an author, I didn't set my hopes too high. I'm also very cynical now of the celebrity author endorsements, which are misleading even at the best of times (coupled in this case with the endorsement being supplied by Trudi Canavan, whose novels are not amongst those I personally rate very highly in the genre) and I wasn't expecting a great deal.

However, despite a very slow start and a style that I didn't find immediately enjoyable, there's a lot to recommend about `The Killing Moon'. It's the most unique novel I've read since `Under Heaven' by Guy Gavriel Kay. The story wasn't predictable and although I think it could have been plotted better to entice readers unfamiliar with the author, I would say that if you stick with it you'll eventually find it rewarding.

I wouldn't describe this as epic fantasy, but the story is memorable and offers something different from the usual fantasy fare. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first in the `Dreamblood Series, 17 Aug 2012
By 
Amazon Customer "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
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Ms Jemisin was commissioned by Orbit publishers for two books. The first book is titled The Killing Moon and the second is The Shadowed, over all they were known as the `Dreamblood series'. The back drop and landscape that story sits in, is one steeped in ancient Egyptian culture, without the pyramids. The narrative blends religion and politics, the land of the city state Gujarreh.

The Gatherers are the keepers of this peace. They are the Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal and kill those judged to be corrupt.

Ehiru, the most famous of the city's Gatherers, smells a conspiracy he 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.

I found this book very hard to get in too. While the back drop is skilfully done, the style in places puzzled me and the emotions seemed vague at best. The scene setting was good, but the rest it just did not work for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 25 July 2012
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An excellent book that I have not yet finished - but I am enjoying the read. I cannot further review because I have not had time to finish the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'strange' - but beautful read!, 13 July 2012
By 
FAMOUS NAME (UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
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A very strange book indeed for me this; I loved the beginning and the descriptive scene of the man crawling across rooftops in the night - it left so much speculation as to what he may have been up to and great potential for the story. However; several chapters in, and I must confess to being more than a little lost with regards to the plot... I also found the ending somewhat confusing...

It appears that certain individuals (commonly called priests?) would `extract' dreams from people, having crept into their bedrooms during the night as they slept, and that some form of power was gained by this in order to do good works - i.e. healing sick people and the like, but there was also another individual known as `The Reaper' doing the exact opposite? I think (!)

I found the book difficult to follow in general - and none of the characters had enough substance I felt to get to know any of them well enough to really care about, but the weird thing about this novel is; at the same time, I could not put it down!!? It is beautifully written and inspires a great deal of imagination with the use of clever prose alone where there is a tremendous lack of detail, and rather vague in places... I also found the names and words a bit `clumsy' to get the tongue round. Having said that; this genre is notorious for such elements, but they became easier and more `comfortable' the more you read them.

I'm giving this read five stars, because it is a sheer delight to read by the beautiful way in which it has been written - regardless of the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It grows on you, 11 July 2012
By 
Peter Miller (Sudbury, Suffolk United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I found this an interesting book. Fantasy can take place in all sorts of worlds and with all sorts of people and races. These can affect how much one likes a particular book. Another variant is the form of magic in that world.

This book takes place in a world that is based very loosely on a desert world rather like Egypt. I found this pleasantly different. The magic is based on dreams and death. I felt that its uses were not really clearly explained.

The first 124 pages are rather confusing and one is kept wondering what it is all about. From there on it settles down to a good old fashioned fantasy story of corruption, entrapment, betrayal and then pursuit building up to a war that never quite takes place.

I found the climax quite good but not as spectacular as most fantasies.

Once the reader gets into the story it is well worth reading.

I really like a map in a book as it helps to follow the story and understand the politics. THis book does not have one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing, intelligent and then quite exciting, 6 July 2012
By 
Chris Baker "Chris B" (Witney, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killing Moon: Dreamblood: Book 1 (Kindle Edition)
A fantasy story steps which away from the same old same old simplified-European medieval-setting cliches. In so far as the imagined world has a basis in reality it would be in ancient Egypt and Nubia. The idea of being able to syphon power from dreams and then use it for healing (and some other purposes)is refreshingly new too. The story concerns a religious order tasked with "Gathering" - ensuring that souls depart safely at the natural end of life, or as euthanasia, or as a penalty for corruption. The Gathers' sense of the rightness of their mission, and the alternative view that they are killers is well handled, with understanding of both sides. Then there is a conspiracy, and plenty of excitement and suspense.
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