There are books that come along that I don’t just thoroughly enjoy, but that I feel intensely, overwhelmingly privileged to work on. THE SHADOWED SUN is one of those novels.
I don’t need to tell everyone what a stunning high fantasy writer N. K. Jemisin is. Her talents are already widely acknowledged, given that her debut novel THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS (UK | US | ANZ) was nominated for pretty much every fantasy award out there.
But even so, I underestimated just how utterly captivated I would be by THE KILLING MOON (UK | US | ANZ) and THE SHADOWED SUN (UK | US | ANZ ), books 1 and 2 in the Dreamblood duology. I didn’t think anything could top the Inheritance novels, but if it’s possible I was even more intoxicated. I09 seemed to agree when they said:
The Dreamblood duology is sure to cement Jemisin’s place as one of the most exciting and innovative new fantasy authors of recent years.
There’s something beautifully poetic about a little girl’s dreams becoming a plague upon a city.
Both novels in the Dreamblood duology are based around a religion of dreaming. It’s a dual world, where the realm of dreams is as real a place as the realm of waking. Where a soul that wonders in the dreamworld can find peace or be lost to ever-lasting torment.
In the city of Gujaareh, the priests of the dream goddess are able to harness the magic of the sleeping mind. These priests are both revered and feared, as they can use this gathered magic to either to heal . . . or kill those judged corrupt. And they move silently across the rooftops of the city at night to administer the chosen judgements.
With this as a backdrop to the novel, THE SHADOWED SUN starts with an illness that is passed from dream to dream – a plague that haunts the infected to die screaming in their sleep. And unless the source of the killing dreams can be found, the whole city will be lost to this madness.
What N. K. Jemisin has written here is a thrilling, dramatic, and exotic tale of a nation in a peril, a woman with the strength to save it, allegiances between nations formed and broken, and a deadly magic that threatens to consume everything.
But the true beauty of the writing is that its richness and complexity lends it a power to say so much more – about the world we live in, and what we are and could become.
What a powerfully symbolic idea it is for a plague to be spread between unconscious minds. Might it be saying more about the spreading of a deep, destructive unease in our own society? And when a mere child has the power to make a city fall to its knees, what might it say about the corruption of youth in our own towns?
THE SHADOWED SUN is out now. It’s book 2 in the Dreamblood duology, but also stands very much alone as a separate novel too. If you don’t thoroughly enjoy it, if it doesn’t stay with you for years to come, I will eat my hat. Just read it to see why I’m pretty confident I won’t actually have to . . .