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Monday, December 07, 2020

Review: The Killing Moon

 After reading How Long 'til Black Future Month, I did some research and discovered that The Killing Moon was set in the same world that one of my preferred stories was in, so I checked it out from the library and downloaded it to my Kindle.

The novel fleshes out the world of the short story more, and depicts a world based on ancient Egypt, which I thought was great. In a self-interview at the back of the book, N.K. Jemisin explains why:

I don’t have a problem with medieval Europe. I have a problem with modern fantasy’s fetishization of medieval Europe; that’s different. So many fantasy writers and fans simplify the social structure of the period, monotonize the cultural interactions, treat conflicts as binaries instead of the complicated dynamic tapestry they actually were. They’re not doing medieval Europe, they’re doing Simplistic British Isles Fantasy Full of Lots of Guys with Swords And Not Much Else. Not all medieval European fantasy does this, of course—but enough does that frankly, they’ve turned me off the setting. I might tackle unsimplified medieval Europe myself someday… but honestly, I doubt it. I loved the challenge of writing the Dreamblood books, but I’ve learned that I prefer creating my own worlds to emulating reality. World-building from scratch is easier. (pg. 404)

Indeed, the world of the Nile (even though the book is explicitly set not on the planet Earth) where people talk about how many floods they've seen, is as alien as anything I've read, with priests providing euthanasia as part of their services, along with political intrigue, war, and hidden pasts that are revealed as part of the story in the book.

The characters are great, as is the plot, at many points with me expecting the story to end much differently from it did. If there's any weakness at all, it's that at the climatic point of the novel it felt as though the DM fudged the dice in favor of the players to prevent a TPK, but as a long time DM I'm not opposed to doing that when it fits the story, and in this case it does. The story is complete in and of itself, with no loose endings --- very welcome in this age where novel series have entire books where nothing happen and seem to promote "book series as a subscription based business" as though that's a good thing.

I immediately put a hold on the next book set in this world when I finished this. I'm so glad that my bouncing off one of N.K. Jemisin's other series was an anomaly and not the rule!

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