In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.
I loved this collection of short stories but it took me forever to read. I felt like after each one I had to put the book down and let it sink in. I couldn’t just go onto the next. I absolutely love this cover. I remember when this photo series came out. This one makes a perfect book cover.
There are children who get chosen to be a sacrifice based on their good grades. But what happens to them? Is this a punishment for the kids who have to excel despite the risks or a way to set them free?
Fans can freeze their favorite writers by killing them at the time of their greatest talent so they never disappoint.
Can humans who have escaped a dying Earth fix the environmental damage? Should they be allowed to try no matter what humans who have remained behind think?
Making deals (and babies) with dragons might not turn out well for anyone but the dragons. On the other hand, little dragons can help fight off even bigger evil.
There are tales of first contact with alien civilizations and visions of possibly imaginary women dancing in elevators. There are gods that survive the death of humans. How do they entertain themselves?
Wars can be fought or prevented with magic. Maybe, someday, the tenuous connections between people on the internet will be all that there is left. Then again, maybe if you look hard enough there is a train waiting that can take you anywhere you need to go.
There are stories here that I know Foodies Read participants would love.
A chef unlocks her ability to make magic with food.
A restaurant opens that can make the exact meal from any memory.
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history.
With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together.
Yeine is raised in Darr, a matriarchal society. Her paternal grandmother is from the ruling family and her mother was formerly the heir to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. She was raised to be a warrior and has been named the leader of the country.
But when her mother mysteriously dies, she is ordered to come to Sky, the capital Kingdoms and compete to be the heir to her grandfather. Yeine’s mother was her grandfather’s only child and her abdication to marry a lowly Darr man set up a power struggle that Yeine is now a victim of.
Yeine isn’t prepared for the brutal politics of Sky. Thousands of years ago there were three gods in the land. A war between them killed one, elevated another, and enslaved the third and their offspring. Now the rulers of Sky can command the captured gods to do their will and their will is usually monstrous. Yeine knows that she is a pawn in the game between her cousins for control of the kingdom. She doesn’t want to play their game but doesn’t want to see either of them win leadership. She doesn’t know that she is a pawn in a long plan of the gods to win their freedom also.
N.K. Jemisin is an author that I’ve been planning on reading for a long time. I told myself that I was absolutely going to read one of her books during #Diversiverse this year. I’m glad I held myself to that.
What I Liked
The world building was wonderful in this book. You slowly learn the limits that have been put on the captured gods and how the people use them for their own entertainment.
Yeine is an outsider. She was raised by a mother that she remembers as kind but who everyone in the capital remembers as being wonderfully cruel. She is trying to understand her mother’s life objectively and not through the eyes of a child. She also wants to help her small country but every move she makes to help is countered by her cousins who are more used to playing political games. She was trained as a warrior and it shows in her interactions with people. She comes from a matriarchal society and is used to being powerful. The implications of that society come through in passages like this where she realizes the depth of Darr’s vulnerability to attack when she hears that the men are being armed.
What Could Have Been Better
For all the incredible elements this isn’t a book that is going to stay in my mind for a long time. I can already feel details slipping and I just finished it yesterday. It is an interesting read but isn’t deep enough to be a favorite.