The first in a fantasy duology based on ancient Egypt, The Dreamblood.

Publication year: 2012
Format: print
Page count: 415 including an extensive glossary plus an interview of the author and an excerpt from the next book
Publisher: Orbit

Gujareen is a small but wealthy country. It’s ruled the Prince who is the earthly consort of the Goddess Hananja. She’s the goddess of dreams, death, and the afterlife. She also has servants who must choose one of the four paths: Teacher, Sentinel, Sharer (healer), or Gatherer.

Ehiru is one of the four senior Gatherers. His job is to give peaceful death to the suffering, or the corrupt. In order to do that, he must enter his victim’s dream and make is a peaceful, blissful dream. He also gathers the victim’s dreamblood which is very addictive. So, he, and the other Gatherers, can’t go more than a few days without gathering dreamblood. The Superior of the order decides who they kill, or gather, and Ehiru trusts him unconditionally. However, when the story starts, Ehiru has been sent to gather a foreigner who is supposed to be corrupt. The foreigner doesn’t worship Hananja and he resists the gathering. He talks about how the Gatherers are corrupt and Ehiru is so disturbed that he makes a mistake and destroys the man’s soul. Ehiru is greatly disturbed and goes into seclusion. However, the Superior convinces him to take on another commission. The victim is another corrupt foreigner; she’s an ambassador from another country. Reluctantly, Ehiru agrees and take with him his apprentice.

Nijiri is sixteen years old and studying to be come a Gatherer. He has just ended his studentship. Even though Ehiru is in seclusion, Nijiri wants to be his apprentice. Reluctantly, Ehiru accepts him. Nijri was born into the servant class but since he was a young boy, he has lived a pretty secluded life among the priests. Ehiru’s mistake with the soul disturbs Nijiri, but the boy is very loyal to Ehiru and supports him no matter what.

Sunandi is Kisua’s ambassador to Gujaareh. She’s also a spy and on the trail of a huge plans. She meets the General who shows her some disturbing things. Sunandi and her young aid Lin makes plans to flee the city so that they can warn the Kisuati leaders but Ehiru is sent to kill her before she manages to leave. Sunandi is able to convince Ehiru that she has found evidence that even the Gatherers are corrupt. Ehiru and Nijiri are disturbed and agree to put Sunandi’s gathering in abeyance for now while they look into it.

Ehiru and Nijiri are both devoted to their goddess and have strong faiths. However, they are both tested sorely with the secrets they find out. They can be quite stoic and distant to the reader, too. Sunandi is an intelligent woman and an experienced spy. She’s used to talking her way out of bad situation.

Gujareen is based on ancient Egypt and Sudan. I adored the world building but otherwise the book is pretty bleak. The characters have secrets which can bring down countries, they are double-crossed, and should trust no-one. Unfortunately, there’s no humor to balance it.

The Gujareen use dream magic, nacromany. The Sharers can use the dreamblood harvested from the dying to use is to heal others. Through her followers, Hananja offers her people a peaceful life: healing during life and a peaceful death at the end. However, foreigners often don’t see that and they call the Gatherers assassins.