Mandatory Release by N.K. Jemisin
Published: May, 2012 (Orbit)
Format: Kindle E-Book
Recommended By: Stephanie E.
I Categorized It As: Science Fiction/Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5/5
In the city-state of Gujaareh, suffering is ameliorated by Sharers and Gatherers. In the name of their goddess, they harvest the mystical power of the sleeping mind and use it to heal and comfort those in need and to kill those who are suffering or judged to be corrupt. A Gatherer’s task is a difficult one. In the process of death, he must guide the soul to a safe place to ensure that it is not lost. When things go terribly wrong during a Gathering Ehiru is performing, he begins to question himself and everything he knows.
Faced with possible corruption in his temple and the threat of war, Ehiru and his young apprentice, Nijiri, cross paths with Sunandi, an ambassador from a neighboring city-state. Sunandi comes from a different culture, where Gatherers are seen as murderers. Yet they must overcome their mutual distrust in order to unravel the truth behind the dark events that are unfolding.
This is a richly imaginative, engrossing novel. The world building, drawing on the religion and culture of Ancient Egypt and Jungian psychology, is excellent. I was drawn into the culture, traditions, and especially the mysticism of Gujaareh. I liked the character development, especially Ehiru — he is complex and morally ambiguous.
I also appreciated the non-heteronormative nature of this world. Like much of Ursula LeGuin’s work, this novel leads us outside our society’s norms about gender and sexuality, inciting us to challenge our assumptions.
- Any action was better than complacency while corruption festered and grew. (p. 45)
- Silence had its own eloquence at times, so Sunandi kept hers. (p. 145)
- The creature is a walking pestilence, hunger without a soul. No one could control it. (p. 168)
- But as She taught us — is it not wisdom to seek the treasure in what others might scorn as a curse? Is it not civilized of us to make of madness, magic? (p. 188)
- It was said that the gods favored fools because they were entertaining to watch. (p. 196)
- You are a man made for love, I think. Your eyes make me want to die, there’s so much love in them. But it isn’t real. Real love lasts years. It causes pain, and endures through it. (p. 227)
- “Suffering is part of life,” she said. “All the parts of life are jumbled up together; you can’t separate out just the one thing.” She parred his hand again, kindly. “I could let you kill me now, lovely man, and have peace and good dreams forever. But who knows what I get instead, if I stay? Maybe time to see a new grandchild. Maybe a good joke that sets me laughing for days. Maybe another handsome young fellow flirting with me.” She grinned toothlessly, then let loose another horrible, racking cough. Ehiru steadied her with shaking hands. “I want every moment of my life, pretty man, the painful and the sweet alike. Until the very end. If these are all the memories I get for eternity, I want to take as many of them with me as I can.”(p. 228)