United States | Member Since 2010
NK Jemisin's best yet. Halfway through the story I worried resolution would be deferred to the next book, which will be released shortly, but the author slammed the end of the story down like a card player laying a flush of spades. I would love to see more fantasy like this, featuring an end at the end, a rich setting at the beginning, and a magic awash with moral uncertainty.
What the book jacket doesn't tell you is that this is a story about euthanasia. At least, its magic is. Dreamblood seems to be the energy released when a soul is shoved/escorted to the afterlife. Two of the protagonists, the gatherers, specialize in freeing sufferers. But they also harvest the “corrupt,” a perilous term ripe to be exploited by political intrigue and fallible men. And it is. And as readers, we are disturbed no matter where we fall on the euthanasia issue.
This struggle of using a potentially terrible magic for good lies at the frenetic beating heart of the Killing Moon. The forces of human need, free will, and religious devotion all clash, with no clear victor. NK Jemisin challenges the reader, not only with moral dilemmas but also with a frolic through tense and perspective shifts. (Yes, including second person, present tense.) A few times I had to blink and take a breath, when her words struck a perfect chord.
The setting is non-European but what it is seems mostly understated. Mentioned in passing are a seasonal flood, camels, a few drifts of sand, and loindrapes (more classy than loincloths?). The culture's dominant feature is the religion of a dream afterlife and a goddess of sleeping peace, an invention that transcends reference to any real-world local.
Given that euthanizing monks make up two of the three main viewpoint characters, and the tone of the story, I would be tempted to classify this as Dark Fantasy. Since it's second world, magic-centric, and has resolution in fewer than five hundred pages, High Fantasy is another reasonable description. If you like delving the uncertain waters of often disturbing ideas, of unrequited romance, and bitter triumphs, this is the fantasy book for you. Oh, and the Reaping magic is atom-bomb overpowered, but at least it has the decency to drive the user into gibbering madness.
Tooth and Claw is written in the the style of Pride and Prejudice, though with more shifting of perspective from character to character within a scene (head-hopping). The story is strong enough that I might've even liked it if the characters were not all dragons. And there can be no higher recommendation.
If you've ever entertained the desire to hobnob with Oscar Wilde, this book is for you. Though I found the mystery engaging and at times intense, the book revolves around the fop playwright and his friends having luncheon, drinking, and smoking. And what friends they are! The straight-laced Arthur Conan Doyle complains about Sherlock Holmes, hoping that character isn't all people will remember him by. Bram Stoker booms his laugh. And the adorable but potential-sociopath Bosie holds Wilde in his thrall.
The premise is that the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes were based at least in part on the mega-mind that was Oscar Wilde, and let's face it, the only thing that can make a detective more interesting than the big SH himself is heart-seeking wit and an arsenal of quips. The author portrays Wilde with spooky clarity, both his charm and his failings, and after listening to this book you'll feel you met him.
The author commands not only quips and perfection of character but also weaves as much history as possible into the story. The grid is introduced, as well as the rules for modern boxing. (The latter should interest zero percent of the book's target market, but at least it's nice historical flavor.)
I have a suggestion to best enjoy the novel: Skip the epilogue / afterward. It summarizes what happens to the primary (non-murdered) characters after the story, recounting their achievements and demises. I found it depressing after the satisfying final chapter. Leave it for later, if at all.
Those not familiar with the podcast should know that Adam Carolla's rants range so far and wide that he's sure to offend at some point, but his humor is worth the occasional sting.
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