Last Updated on February 12, 2024
Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson fully embraces the Chosen One trope, using it to great effect in The Principle of Moments. The heroine of the story, Asha, is a fugitive engineer thousands of years in the future, long after humanity has destroyed Earth and colonized other planets. Asha is astonished to learn that she has a long-lost sister who has been captured by the emperor and imprisoned in an imperial jail. Asha’s quest to rescue her sister has dire consequences for the entire universe.
The second lead protagonist in The Principle of Moments is the time-traveling Obi, who was abandoned by his father at only eight years old. Obi’s story begins in 1812 in Regency-era London, centering on his relationship with Prince George, the fictitious son of Prince Regent (later King) George IV and grandson of King George III.
Prince George comes from a rather sorry line of monarchs. His grandfather, George III, is most noted for losing the American colonies, while his father, George IV, pursued a leisurely life of fiscal extravagance, without any true accomplishments to his name. Young Prince George finds himself lost, and unfortunately also shares his father’s addiction to laudanum. His greatest hope for meaning rests in his romance with Obi.
Kudos to Jikiemi-Pearson for making a queer, interracial relationship a focal point of the novel, especially one set in the early nineteenth century and across such a major class divide. I immediately connected with both Obi and George: their relationship is one of the highlights of the novel. There is also an element of suspense as the mysterious character named Alarick pursues Obi and the fragment of his soul that he left with George.
The Principle of Moments touches on a number of serious issues, including slavery, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse, but it doesn’t probe any of them in great depth. The tone of the book stays remarkably upbeat throughout, focusing on the fast-paced action and relationships among the various characters.
Although there are plenty of sci-fi elements to The Principle of Moments, this is primarily a relationship-driven novel. The relationships between Asha and Obi, Obi and George, and Asha and her sister are all wonderfully developed and kept me glued to the pages. While I immediately connected with Obi and George, the relationships involving Asha took a longer time to build. But the buildup is definitely worth it, as the story grows to an outstanding climax that leaves a big emotional impact on the reader.
I also enjoyed the epigraphs at the end (rather than the beginning) of each chapter. Many of these are quotes from the Archivist, a character who is more than meets the eye:
“Archivist’s Note: You must excuse my poetic license. Artistic liberty is something I am rarely afforded, and this tale begs to be transformed into scripture; everything about it is epic.”
Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson’s writing can only be described as jubilant. This is an author who clearly had the time of her life writing this novel. Her genuine excitement for the story pops off every page. Overall, The Principle of Moments is an ecstatic debut.