The more astute among you may have already realised that this is not the first time I’ve mentioned The Shadowed Sun. In fact it was a Want to Read Wednesday post where I talked about how I had finally found the series I had forgotten the name of. Well here’s a bit of an update to that whole situation- I found it, I read it and now you’re reading the review!
Gujaareh, the city of dreams, suffers under the imperial rule of the Kisuati Protectorate. A city where the only law was peace now knows violence and oppression. A mysterious and deadly plague now haunts the citizens of Gujaareh, dooming the infected to die screaming in their sleep. Someone must show them the way.
But that doesn’t tell you a whole lot. Let me attempt to elucidate as I talk about the amazing world building that Jemisin managed to achieve in this duology. So essentially the magic system in this world is built around the four things you can get from dreams (there’s a helpful glossary at the back of the book which explains all the different terms so you don’t get lost) which can they be used to heal people and the like. It’s a little complicated to explain here, but it’s set out well enough in the books that you can get your head around it. I’ve read a lot of books that were centred around the magic of dreams but this duology definitely felt unique in this approach. I appreciate a novel concept (no pun intended) because so many things feel like a trope now that I needed a break.
Characters? There’s a whole host of them. This book is multiple POV but not in the usual fantasy method of listing which person at the start of each chapter, instead you’re expected to keep pace with the book and work out which story you’re in at any given moment. I really like this approach as it allows the whole story to feel more integrated and it gives more a sense of a complete world operating as one. You may prefer the chapter heading method-that’s ok too!
Hanani (a dream healer) was by far my favourite character for a plethora of reasons. She’s the only woman doing a traditionally male occupation but that isn’t what defines her. Or rather, I should say, she doesn’t let it define her. The entire narrative of Hanani is not ‘oh look at me smashing the patriarchy’ but that is a part of who she is. Real women, who also happen to be fighting that fight? I’m all here for it.
Romance? There’s a little bit of romance in there, it isn’t the crux of the book so I’d say there’s just the right level. It also isn’t insta-love which made me very happy. If you’re not a fan of romance in your fiction I wouldn’t worry, it doesn’t take over the plot.
Plot you say? Why yes there is plot. I think the plot was very clever in that you’re never quite sure where it’s going to turn, who is going to be the centre of the action and so forth. This makes for exciting reading and ensures that you actually connect with the characters you don’t just skip over the ones that don’t seem as integral. There’s elements of violence and more typical ‘action’ sequences, there’s political elements, there’s mystery, it’s got a little bit of pretty much everything.
Before I sum all the up I will say the one thing that stopped this book from getting five stars. It’s something I’ve talked about before and I am so sad to have to bring it up again but there you go. Authors. Please stop subjecting your characters (in particular female characters) to sexual assault when it does not add in any way to the plot. You could argue in this instance that it was a little bit relevant but that could have been tackled in so many other ways. So yes, if you’re looking for Content notes for this book I would watch out for mild violence, sexual assault and incest.
But apart from that one incredibly annoying thing, this book was just as good as I remember the first one being all those years ago. There’s also a prequel I need to get my hands on, on top of needing to read book one all over again. That TBR never stops growing does it!?
My rating: 4/5 stars
What do you think? Is this the kind of thing you might be interested in? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @judithcmoore. Don’t forget to hit that follow button so you never miss a post!
Can’t wait to hear from you!