The author of this 2010 book, N K Jemisin, won the 2016 Hugo Award for her latest series. Jemisin is a black woman, and this went over with the scifi/fantasy community about as well as “black” and “woman” usually do. Because their rage gives me joy, I bought her award-winning book, The Fifth Season, as well as this, her first novel (thereby appeasing my need to Do Everything in Order).
This very much reads like someone’s first novel. The biggest issue is that the protagonist is one of the most over-the-top Sues I’ve ever encountered in a published book.
On the other hand, Jemisin’s writing is technically quite good, the mythos unique, and the narrative voice really great. It’s an immature story, but it’s the immature story of a good writer with good ideas. Unless you’re specifically into romantic fantasy and/or looking for a nonwhite fantasy protagonist, it’s probably not worth reading, and I ended up frustrated that it had all the elements of a great story without being able to bring them together into something truly compelling. That said, it left me really interested in The Fifth Season, because if Jemisin has improved even a little since writing this it’s going to be a great book.