Nancy’s Must Reads: The Works of NK Jemisin

Since shutting down my book blog, I figured that there was no reason not to talk about books here. But instead of writing reviews, I’d just focus on the ones I really think other people should read. And since things have been slow on the writing front (basically, I’m plodding forward with my editing. Not very exciting), I decided to take time to highlight one of my favorite authors, NK Jemisin.

THeHundredThousandGodsThe tricky thing about writing about epic fantasy writer NK Jemisin is figuring out which one of her series to highlight. Do I pick her bestselling Inheritance Trilogy, which takes place in a universe where the very gods have been enslaved? Or do I select her lesser known, Dreamblood series, which takes place in Gujaareh, where warrior priests known as the Gatherers keep the peace, but at a deadly price. Given that they’re both awesome, I guess I’ll have to talk about both!

Jemisin’s work often stands out among her popular contemporaries due to the fact that her settings do not draw inspiration primarily from medieval Europe. The Dreamblood series, for example, is inspired by ancient Egypt. And although I love a good middle ages inspired read as much as the next fantasy fan, I’m a big believer in having a variety in your reading diet. As a reader, you’re less likely to get jaded and worn out by a particular genre. As a writer, you’re less likely to look like a lesser copy of your favorite author. On top of that, being able to find a more diverse set of characters, cultures and settings, makes the fantasy genre richer and complex on a whole, so there’s really no good reason not to support different types of fantasy books.

NK Jemisin is not afraid to embrace unconventional narrators. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, for THeKillingMoonexample, is told in a fragmented style that still manages to be completely compelling. The Kingdom of the Gods is narrated by Sieh the god of childhood, a character that is defined by his immaturity yet remains completely likable. Another one of the author’s strengths is her ability to write about the complex subject of religion very well. Ehiru, one of the protagonists of The Killing Moon, is basically a zealot, willing to do terrifying things for the sake of his god. The author does not shy away from these things, but neither does she revert to showing him as a caricature. Instead Ehiru is intensely sympathetic and even heroic.

So if you’re looking to get into the works of NK Jemisin, there are a couple places to start. If you’re looking for books about the relationship between humans and the gods, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the first book in the Inheritance trilogy, is your best bet. If idea of reading about ninja warrior priests sounds more your taste, then I would recommend starting with The Killing Moon, the first book in the Dreamblood series. You can find more information on NK Jemisin on her website, or her frequently updated twitter. Happy reading!


5 thoughts on “Nancy’s Must Reads: The Works of NK Jemisin

  1. Calico

    I still need to read the sequel to The Killing Moon. There’s a lot of things I need to read, though….

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