Saturday, June 12, 2021

Review: THE SHADOWED SUN by N. K. Jemisin

Rating: 4/5 stars

I’ll be honest, I remembered next to nothing about the first book when I started this book. I read The Killing Moon last July, when I was in the deepest depths of my depression, and I have forgotten most of what was going on in my life during that time, including all the books I read. I remembered there was dream magic, and people who go into other people’s dreams to gather Dreamblood, and lots of fantasy politics, and that’s about it. Can’t remember the main characters, can’t remember the plot, can’t remember how the book ended. But I do remember thinking it was really cool and I should read it again when I’m in a better headspace because that book deserves my full attention.

I finally, almost a year later, started book two. I was nervous jumping in without remembering anything, but it turned out to be okay, and I actually enjoyed The Shadowed Sun more than The Killing Moon. The first book ends as if it’s a standalone, and this book takes place like ten years later and follows a different cast of characters, so it wasn’t as confusing as I was worried it would be. There’s also a very helpful glossary at the back that I read through during the first few chapters to help me get back on board.

Jemisin’s books always have such unique worlds and this was no exception. It’s based on Egyptian culture but the world is still very much its own and rooted in a fantastical setting. It’s also very intense and immersive, and at times I was worried I was getting left behind because I wasn’t catching all the details. Each POV character is part of a different tribe or caste of people in this land, and I did get a bit confused about who was who and where each character was and what was special about their clan. Even though my brain wasn’t smart enough to pick up all the details and connect all the dots, I still really enjoyed this story and understood the gist of it. 

I love the magic in this series. The idea of dream magic alone is amazing, but Jemisin takes it so much further, adding in four different kinds of dream magic that are gathered from different kinds of dreams and each having distinct properties. Then add on top of that the overarching plot in this book: a plague of nightmares. That’s really cool!!

I did struggle during the first new chapters to keep all the characters straight and who was part of what tribe or what political group and who was working with who, etc. For how intricate the world-building and magic are in this book, it’s surprising it’s only a two-book series. Usually with this level of detail and thought put into a story, a series will get more than two books, but I will say that I appreciate it as it is nonetheless.

I really enjoyed the Dreamblood duology, although my favorite series by Jemisin so far is still the Broken Earth trilogy. I definitely want to reread this series in the future and hopefully have a better time understanding who all the characters are and where they come from. I’m sad this series doesn’t have a map because it really would benefit from one, but the story was still good regardless. N. K. Jemisin is a master storyteller, and if you haven’t checked out any of her books yet, you’re missing out. 

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