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The second of the Inheritance Trilogy; you could probably start here but you might find the metaphysics confusing. Mind you, I think the book is working pretty hard at being a good starting place, so it might well be less confusing than I am picturing. I read the first one, so it's hard for me to tell.

Anyway. This is set in the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, a political unit ruled by the Arameri, who for a very long while maintained their power by enslaving a fairly major deity for use as a weapon. Following the first book, a whole lot of things about the way the gods work in the world have changed in ways that a lot of human people are not terribly clear about. Also, there's an unthinkably large tree growing out of the middle of the capitol city. The protagonist, Oree, lives in the capitol and makes her living as a street vendor; she's blind, but she can see magic, and that and the fact that she's of an ethnic group who have a long and twisty history with the Arameri make her life complicated, along with the fact that the official religion doesn't much approve of that whole magic thing, her minor-deity ex-lover is still a major presence in her life, and she just found this guy in her back alley who keeps dying and coming back to life but won't talk to anybody...

I liked this a lot better than the first book. The first book was very well done but had for me the idiosyncratic problem that it took a theme/issue that I am in fact writing a novel about myself and did exactly everything opposite to the way I'd do it, which was a fascinating reading experience that did not leave me feeling terribly friendly on account of how I violently disagree. I realize that no one else on the planet has this problem, and it wasn't a quality issue and I didn't think it would repeat, so I picked this up.

And I don't just like this more; I think it is a better book. It's more assured in voice, it does fewer things I've seen done anywhere else, it has a beautifully nasty sense of humor around the edges and it has a good shape (mostly: this is one of those books that ends, and then it ends two or three more times just to make sure you noticed, but that's minor). I'm not visually impaired, so I don't know if the way Oree thinks is realistic, but I was happy that her vision is a genuine issue for her, that it has its own assets and liabilities, and that it doesn't get magically fixed.

I also liked the way that knowing things from the previous book caused plot tension, but there would I think also have been tension if I hadn't known those things; that's always a neat trick.

Of the book's two principal romantic relationships, I found one touching, believable, and tragic and the other one Right Out, but that is fifty percent better than my mileage with romances in, you know, most of literature. (My default assumption about most fictional romances is that directly the novel is over the characters shrug at each other and say 'thank God we don't have to do that anymore' and wander off in opposite directions. The list of couples in fiction whom I believe remain happily married or even happy afterward, based on in-book behavior, is very, very short.)

So, good fantasy, lots of gods who are well-done, lots of politics which are well-done, writer continuing to improve and one I will continue to watch for. And I was amused to note that in the acknowledgments Jemisin mentions taking the inspiration for a particular visual image from the exact anime that was providing the visual for it inside my head. (And amused that apparently I remember Mahou Tsukai Tai that clearly...) In short, I recommend this, and look forward to the next one.


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March 2017

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