Andrew's Reviews > The Killing Moon

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
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Jul 12, 2012

really liked it
Read in July, 2012

The city-state of Gujaareh has a thriving economy of dream-magic. Specially-trained priests gather one sort of energy from nightmares, another sort from sex dreams, another sort from the dreams of the dying; these are then distributed through the city to keep the populace healthy, sane, prosperous.

Or, from the point of view of foreigners: Gujaareh is a city where these seriously damn scary ninjas sneak in through your window while you're asleep and *kill you* by *sucking your soul out*. You will note a certain amount of tension between the views.

The story is split between a pair of death-ninjas and a foreign ambassador (read "spy", of course). There is political tension in the city, which means that all sorts of buried evil and nastiness is about to come to light. *Serious* nastiness. Remember when vampires were a terrifying devouring force of darkness, before they turned into commonplaces? This portrayal of dream-magic is fresh enough to get back to that. Also, absolutely every side of the conflict is wrong.

The theme is that power corrupts, I guess, and magic is awfully powerful. The author has visited this theme before, of course; the Arameri in her first trilogy were world-class bastards because of their magic. But in those books, the gods got a free pass -- they were exemplars and reflections, but they were *supposed* to be powerful. That wasn't questioned. In this series, magic is questioned all up one side and down the other: the cost, the ethics, who controls it, who deals with misuse. I seriously wondered, reading, whether the answer would turn out to be "Wow, this was a total frickin' mistake, let's exterminate all knowledge of dream-magic." (Not this book, but I haven't ruled it out for the sequel.)
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