Hello, hello…this is your captain speaking. Remember me? Ha! I ended up having to take an unofficial hiatus for a week due to general life business, thesis-ing, and a book slump where I just lost the desire to read… luckily, only a temporary condition! Anyway, I am back, and I hope you have all been having a wonderfully literary time in my absence.
In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.
But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.
This was the kind of fantasy book that’s meant to be savoured – its pace is slow, but the kind that I could appreciate, not the painful variety. The author has created a new fantasy world, rich in character, complex and well-fleshed out.
It was a little difficult to situate myself initially, especially with the new words, and certain rituals that I didn’t quite understand, but as with most fantasy books, clarity comes as you persevere. I especially enjoyed how the author showed the contrasts between the two different cultures featured – and not just the surface level cultural distinctions, e.g. food, dress and religion, for example, but also the deeper elements of their way of life.
One thing I admired about this book is that it wasn’t formulaic. There was no miraculous saving of one of the doomed characters. There were no dramatic declarations of love. The day wasn’t magically saved, in the end. (Although it was much less bad than it could have been, so please don’t despair!) It was a refreshing change, even though my wish-fulfillment side was a little sad.
There is very little romance in this book, so be warned if that’s what you’re looking for. There are hints of it, certainly, but our characters are focused on the end-game.
All in all, a dense but interesting novel focused on the corrupting nature of power, euthanasia and religion, with a main trio of well-constructed characters whose actions are understandable even when they’re not particularly palatable.