This is the second book in The Dreamblood duology by N.K. Jemisin. I really hope it won’t stay a duology, because I’d love to explore the world more, but if it is, then it’s a fitting end.
Gujaareh, the city of dreams, has been ruled for ten years by the conquering Kisuati after the schemes of the Prince fell through in the previous book. The Kisuati are cruel and forceful, and only the Hetawa and its Sharers, Sisters, Sentinels and Gatherers ensure that Gujaareh stays peaceful. But things are boiling under the surface and things are changing in the city. The barbarians, lead by exiled would-be-Prince Wanahomen keep raiding the city, there’s a female Sharer apprentice in the Hetawa though women are as goddesses and therefore shouldn’t do the jobs of men, and the people of Gujaareh are getting more and more frustrated by the behaviour of the Kisuati. War is brewing and an unstoppable plague spreads through the city of dreams, killing people horrible in their sleep.
It was great to be back in the world of Gujaareh where dreams are magic. There were several familiar faces like Speaker Sunadi, a Kisuati representative/politician whom I failed to mention in my review of the first book, Gatherers Nijiri, Rabbaneh and Sonta-i and Wanahomen, whom we last saw as a young man looking up to his father, the Prince of Gujaareh. Knowing what I do about the Prince’s motives and what he did to his brother Ehiru, it’s hard to swallow Wanahomen’s anger towards the Hetawa at first. But when he learns more about his father and his plans, himself and his powers, it became easier to like him.
I was most excited though, to see the Gatherers again, especially because we spent much time with them in the previous book and got to know how they viewed their occupation – if you can call it an occupation. Nijiri in particular, was a familiar face I was looking forward to. He’s a full-grown Gatherer now, and though changed, you can still sometimes see in him the young hothead he used to be. He’s still suffering from Ehiru’s loss and seeing him and Sunadi reminisce about Ehiru was touching; I too still miss him.
There were plenty of new characters as well, of course, the most important of the two were definitely Tiaanet, a higher cast woman who supports Wanahomen’s rise to the throne, but also plots against him and Hanani, the female Apprentice-Sharer. While I can’t go into too much detail concerning Tiaanet and the plots she’s wrapped up in, there’s some terrible things that happened to her, and the way she deals with it felt very realistic to me.
From the moment Hanani arrived on the scene, I was certain that I would like her and would love reading about her struggles as a woman in a male-dominated field, and though I did grow to like her and (most) of her ‘adventures’, in the end her arc and storyline felt a little predictable. That’s why this book is not a 10/10 for me.
But the dream plague! Oh boy, that was a very interesting and intense storyline and I enjoyed how it connected to all others. It is a scary thing to go to sleep, be caught in an endless nightmare and die with a face contorted in fear and pain. Jemisin really did a great job making this plague seem incredibly creepy. And the identity of the Wild Dreamer was both shocking and heartbreaking.