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The Killing Moon

Dreamblood, Book 1
Written by: N. K. Jemisin
Narrated by: Sarah Zimmerman
Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

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.

©2012 N. K. Jemisin (P)2012 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"[A] gripping series launch... as well as a rousing political and supernatural adventure." ( Publishers Weekly, starred review)
"Shines for its remarkable characters and graceful prose." ( Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Innovative & addictive

I truly enjoyed it and hope for more I from this author and this world.

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Excellent and disorienting

without the glossary or maps the first few chapters feel like a truly alien world. worth waiting, building context and figuring out!!

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  • Patrick
  • 2012-06-22

Refreshing Take on Fantasy

I went into Jemisin's book having never read any of her novels and not quite knowing what to expect. The learning curve is steeper than some of the fantasy out there, but once you get a few chapters in, and understand the general premise, the story takes off. Jemisin's writing is equisite. Her descriptions do a wonderful job of giving the reader a sense of place. She breaths life into her characters through their interaction and even with subtle touches of mannerisms and behavior that further imbed's them in the reader's mind. The book is a bit dark, which I enjoyed and felt with the subject matter she was tackling fit together well.

I picked up the audiobook version and am thankful I did. Sarah Zimmerman reads the book masterfully and hearing the book read aloud amplifies the beautiful writing of Jemisin. If you are looking for a refreshing setting for the fantasy genre, in depth characters, and an interesting, captivating plot, look no further than The Killing Moon.
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27 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jenn
  • 2012-09-06

Breathtaking

What did you love best about The Killing Moon?

I loved the rich setting details and multicultural scope of the story. More than that, I loved that these details were presented in an organic way rather than spoonfed in large chunks to the reader all in one sitting as sometimes happens in lesser works of fantasy.

What does Sarah Zimmerman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Since this is a work of fantasy, there are a lot of strange names for both people and places in the story and the author was able to read them in a fluent manner. Also, her voice expressed the perfect calm of a gatherer.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes! Too bad I had to break it into chunks for my commute.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Blythe
  • 2016-04-09

Detailed, nuanced world, refreshingly different

I'd read the author's "Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" previously and thought it was OK and with potential, but I hadn't rushed to read her other books. But this audiobook was a Christmas gift and it's clear the author is just continuing to improve, I finished it in 2 days.

The setting is a fictional desert country the author says is loosely based on ancient Egypt, but the details are all new and imaginative. The Gatherers are among those who practice narcomancy (sleep magic), gathering dreams to ease the ill or the criminal into a quiet death, or using the power of the dreams to heal illness and injury. The plot follows Gatherer Ehiru and his apprentice Nijiri, who slowly realize that something is greatly amiss in the city of Gujaareh. Framed and imprisoned for a hideous murder, Ehiru is released only on the condition that he kills the foreign ambassador Sunandi of Kisua, who is herself concerned that someone in Gujaareh is trying to start a great war with her people. Despite their mutual distrust, Ehiru and Sunandi (with Nijiri assisting) must work together to find out who is responsible for the murders, whether war is coming, and find a way to stop it all before it's too late.

The characters are interesting and sympathetic; the magic and religion are fascinating and unique; and even the "bad guys" are not simply stereotypical baddies but have shades of grey and complex reasons driving their actions. I've already picked up the sequel!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Paige
  • 2012-10-08

Fantastic narration!

I do plan to put a more in depth review up at my blog but I just wanted to pop in here and comment on how much I *loved* this book. I couldn't find time to read the book so I downloaded the audio and am so happy that I did because Sarah Zimmerman did a fantastic job on the reading!

Not only did this story have captivating characters that I quickly grew to care about a great deal, it was also set in a detailed world that Jemisin describes so beautifully that you can close your eyes (listening helps with this process) and actually see it. Further, the fascinating 'magic' system is unlike anything I've seen before in fantasy.

This is one of those stories which lingers in my mind for days and days after I finish reading/listening. In fact, it's occupied my thoughts so much that I might have to listen to it again before diving into The Shadowed Sun, which is waiting patiently on my iPod.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • A.E.
  • 2012-05-16

Nightmare Resolved

Any additional comments?

NK Jemisin's best yet. Halfway through the story I worried resolution would be deferred to the next book, which will be released shortly, but the author slammed the end of the story down like a card player laying a flush of spades. I would love to see more fantasy like this, featuring an end at the end, a rich setting at the beginning, and a magic awash with moral uncertainty.

What the book jacket doesn't tell you is that this is a story about euthanasia. At least, its magic is. Dreamblood seems to be the energy released when a soul is shoved/escorted to the afterlife. Two of the protagonists, the gatherers, specialize in freeing sufferers. But they also harvest the “corrupt,” a perilous term ripe to be exploited by political intrigue and fallible men. And it is. And as readers, we are disturbed no matter where we fall on the euthanasia issue.

This struggle of using a potentially terrible magic for good lies at the frenetic beating heart of the Killing Moon. The forces of human need, free will, and religious devotion all clash, with no clear victor. NK Jemisin challenges the reader, not only with moral dilemmas but also with a frolic through tense and perspective shifts. (Yes, including second person, present tense.) A few times I had to blink and take a breath, when her words struck a perfect chord.

The setting is non-European but what it is seems mostly understated. Mentioned in passing are a seasonal flood, camels, a few drifts of sand, and loindrapes (more classy than loincloths?). The culture's dominant feature is the religion of a dream afterlife and a goddess of sleeping peace, an invention that transcends reference to any real-world local.

Given that euthanizing monks make up two of the three main viewpoint characters, and the tone of the story, I would be tempted to classify this as Dark Fantasy. Since it's second world, magic-centric, and has resolution in fewer than five hundred pages, High Fantasy is another reasonable description. If you like delving the uncertain waters of often disturbing ideas, of unrequited romance, and bitter triumphs, this is the fantasy book for you. Oh, and the Reaping magic is atom-bomb overpowered, but at least it has the decency to drive the user into gibbering madness.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Tango
  • 2013-03-26

Wow - Jemisin can write!

The only Audible reviews on this book are glowing and I now know why - this is a brilliantly beautiful book. The characters are multi-faceted, the setting is so different from standard fantasy offerings, and the plot is intricate and sophisticated. In addition, Jemisin's prose flows so naturally and in a book about magic tied to dreams, her words not only have a dream like quality to them, but Sarah Zimmerman also delivers them in a voice that can almost put the listener into a trance.

I have only a couple thoughts to add to the positive reviews already posted. 1. Sarah Zimmerman has a lovely voice and her style of reading is just right for this book. The only minor criticism I have is that she does not differentiate characters voices for the spoken dialog at all. This is preferable to narrators that use stupid sounding voices, but good character voices would have been nice in this book that requires quite a bit of concentration anyway. 2. Jemisin does no info-dumps in this book in spite of the fact that she has created a very complex political system intertwined with a complex and unique religious system. She is definitely a "show me" rather than "tell me" author which I really appreciate. However, this necessitates a period in the beginning of the book where the listener will not understand everything that is happening. For anyone listening and wondering if/when this will all make sense, it does make sense after the primary characters are introduced and the "world" Jemisin is building starts to come together when the storylines of the 3 POV characters converge - this is about 3 1/2 hours into the narration. After that, although the plot twists and turns, you will follow without much trouble. And, I assure you that even when you don't have enough information to understand why things are happening as they are, you will not be bored - there are dramatic moments from beginning to end in this book.

The Killing Moon is a dark tale with a really satisfying ending. I highly recommend it. Now I have to run so I can listen to the Shadowed Sun (sequel) :)

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • penorman
  • 2019-05-07

Not Up to Broken Earth Standard

Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy was one of my favorites of the last few years. Pretty spectacular. Killing Moon was a pale shadow of that. A lot of purposely-obscure narrative masking a pretty conventional plotline. Pretty much the usual medieval european cultural setting overlaid with some religious figures with supernatural powers. Meh.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Karissa Eckert
  • 2019-03-22

Slow, boring, and painful to get through


I have had this book for some time to read. I enjoyed Jemison’s Inheritance series so I was excited to read this one, but I ended up not liking this at all. If I hadn't been listening to this on audiobook I would have stopped reading it.

I listened to this on audiobook and the narration was very well done. Zimmerman did a wonderful job reading it. I did think it was a bit weird to have a female narrator when most of the book was told from a male perspective, but this wasn’t too distracting.

The story itself moves really slow and is very boring. Some of the world building elements were interesting; like the Dreamblood and the religion around all of that. I also thought the relationship between Ehiru and his apprentice was well done.

The above being said, there was a lot more I didn't like. This is a very typical story of corruption in religion affecting a government. Nothing all that interesting to me. For what the story ends up being it was very long.

I also felt distanced from the characters and the world the whole time; like I was looking in through a foggy glass. This made it very hard to engage for me. The story does tie up pretty well which is nice since I will not be reading the 2nd book in the series.

Overall this was a long and boring read that was not at all that creative from a storyline perspective. While some of the world-building around dreaming was intriguing, the story itself was very typical in nature. I didn’t enjoy it even a little bit and will not be continuing the series. In fact this was bad enough that I probably won’t pick up any books by Jemisin in the future.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon_Customer
  • 2018-10-26

okay

it was creative with a slight point. I found it difficult to follow especially in the beginning with so many unfamiliar terms.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Phillip Forrest
  • 2018-03-09

Alright, but just doesn't catch you.

I went in this really wanting to find a new series/author to really invest in, and while this isn't a bad piece of fiction, this is not much more than alright/mediocre. There's a good basis, moreso than some, but it's not a highlight or standout book. Decently strong world-building, though. An above average title, but nothing world-shaking, and I don't feel really any significant desire to continue on with the world/author, sadly, which is a big tell for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful