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The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth (3)) Paperback – August 15, 2017
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"Jemisin is now a pillar of speculative fiction, breathtakingly imaginative and narratively bold."―Entertainment Weekly
"[N. K. Jemisin] has pretty well conquered [the epic fantasy scene] with the Broken Earth."―The New York Times
"Jemisin deliberately refuses to provide easy answers: they're simply not available, in this world or ours. Painful and powerful."―Kirkus (starred review)
"Vivid characters, a tautly constructed plot, and outstanding worldbuilding meld into an impressive and timely story of abused, grieving survivors fighting to fix themselves and save the remnants of their shattered home."―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The depth and breadth of Jemisin's achievement with this trilogy is geologic. These books are a revolution in which I want to take part."―NPR Books
"Incredible, wildly original . . . [The Stone Sky is] blowing me away."―The Verge
"A real tour de force . . . one of the best fantasy trilogies in recent memory."―RT Book Reviews (five stars)
"The powerful conclusion to the "Broken Earth" trilogy will please the author's many fans with its fully developed world, detailed settings, and complex characters."―Library Journal
"[N. K. Jemisin's] books have abstracted real-life race issues in a way that serves to magnify the truth."―Washington Post
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The prose finds a nice balance between "the verdant emerald wands of..." and "the green grass.
The plot moves along nicely. Very little feels wedged in and extraneous.
The narrator's voice moves between first person personal and omniscient comfortably and smoothly. Very rarely are you jarred because of point-of-view.
Characters are deep, interact naturally and are interesting. Conflicts, such as a long-simmering mother-daughter complicated relationship, are addressed head-on and honestly.
The book (or more accurately, series) gives you a lot to chew on with regard to a lot of topics, by telling a great story (not by saying "You Should Feel Bad About...")
Oh - for extra special bonus points, she didn't mess up The Ending!
Far and away some of the best SF I've read in quite a while.
Also this book suffers from a problem common to Fantasy books that keeps me from reading more of the genre. Agatha Christie described it very well in the contest of murder "whodduneit" books when she said the readers must always feel like they are playing with a full deck of cards. That is, the author should never solve the mystery by introducing a new character or a motivation never before mentioned in the book, what she called an ace up the author's sleeve. Fantasy feels exactly like that. Magic can always show up to save the day, right? The real problem starts when the author tries to give it some logical framework only to break her own framework to get herself out of a tight spot. So when orogeny isn't enough anymore we can always whip up something else (the silver, or magic). When orogeny becomes too deus ex machina, we can make up a new thing that turns you into stone if you use it. It makes no sense, other than as a literary device. It would have been better if the author hadn't tried to explain it to us, so we wouldn't have to ask the hard questions.
Don't get me wrong, I did not hate this book, far from it. I looked forward to having some free time to sit down and read more. I am being picky because I care about this trilogy and I would have liked to see it be even better.
The Stone Sky thus delivers no surprises and ties all loose ends, giving explanation to all lingering questions. No, this is not our Earth, not even millennia ahead in the future. Yes, all hints in the previous two novels turn out to be quite literal—from the loss of the Moon through the origin of the stone eaters and all the way to the existence of ‘Father Earth’. The rage from the first book is back—tripled this time. Jemisin repeats, perhaps ten different times, in the words of ten different characters from different eras that “when the world is too broken to fix, you need to destroy it and start building it up again, brick by brick”, making this into a sort a motto for the entire trilogy. I couldn’t agree less with her.
Nothing could match the structural originality—or the ‘wow’ effect it generates—of The Fifth Season. For me it will always remain the best of the three novels and one of the best sci fi/fantasty books I have ever read in my entire life. Yet The Stone Sky is tremendous both in its own right, as a separate book, and as a way to cap the series. Extraordinarily ambitious writing, unrivalled structural originality, breathtaking world-building and unbelievably enticing plot, this is all The Broken Earth has to offer—and then some.
Top international reviews
There is something about Nassun that kind of grates on me. I know I should feel a lot of sympathy for her, considering her age and what she's gone through, and I do, but she also annoys me. Can't even point out exactly why but it's there. And her storyline is really interesting but it doesn't grip me as much as it should.
We have a new POV in this book (kind of), that of Hoa and it is my favourite. It's set far far back in time and finally explains why the world is the way it is. We learn about how the stone eaters came to be, what the point of the obelisks are and many other things. It was really interesting and I found it the most enjoyable part of the book.
I still don't know how to classify these books. In some ways they are straight up epic fantasy, in others straight up science fiction. It is really a unique set up in my experience and I enjoyed it immensely. The second person narrative finally makes sense, I thought it was to show Essun's shock and it could still be in some senses but there is a more prosaic reason for it which I only copped in this last book. Just to note I still don't like this style but here at least there is a solid reason for it.
The actual end felt somewhat rushed but overall it was great, with nearly all questions answered satisfactory. This really is a pretty unique series and I would recommend it with the caveat that they second person is a bit jarring and creates distance between you and the characters. It is also a fairly dark and bleak series though there is also lots of hope and great moments too.
Concluding a trilogy when the first two volumes have been acclaimed as the finest fantasy novels of the decade, won a multitude of awards and been optioned for television is a bit of an undertaking, but one that N.K. Jemisin has pulled off with an aplomb. The Stone Sky concludes the Broken Earth trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy of the "Dying Earth" school, set in the far future when the world has become a stranger place where the lines between sorcery, magic and science have become blurred by tens of thousands of years of progress.
The previous volume in the series, The Obelisk Gate, left our characters in difficult predicaments. The Stone Sky soon sets them on their way to a final confrontation where the fate of the world will be decided. So far, so standard. But The Stone Sky isn't your standard fantasy novel. The final confrontation is a clash of ideas and perspectives informed by the well-developed characters and their experiences, not a rote clash of armies (which arguably we got in The Obelisk Gate anyway).
Instead, The Stone Sky is a surprisingly quiet novel. The principle action unfolds through conversations between the characters and through lengthy flashback sequences revealing how the Earth lost the Moon in the first place and how the highly advanced civilisation which caused the Shattering fell from grace. Woven through this is a theme of intolerance: the orogenes of the present-day story being outcast and persecuted for being Other, but also used for their power. This is echoed by events in the flashback story, where entire races are enslaved and persecuted out of fear, but then used for their power.
The Stone Sky, as with the rest of the trilogy, explores powerful themes of disempowerment, slavery and fear of the unknown, but also wraps an interesting and gripping narrative, all built on some very accomplished worldbuilding. This mix of atmosphere, character, theme and story is excellently-handled and recalls the best work of Ursula K. Le Guin: a book where all of the individual pieces that went into making it complement one another and deliver a novel that is far more than the some of its parts.
The novel is not quite perfect. Like The Obelisk Gate, the pace sags on occasion and this is made more noticeable by the lengthy flashbacks to the Shattering. These flashbacks are interesting and beautifully-written, but only reveal a moderate amount of new information not previously given in dialogue. The book isn't quite the equal of The Fifth Season in its pacing and story structure, although the difference is not too egregious.
Overall, The Stone Sky (****½) ends one of the finest fantasy series of recent years in final form, wrong-footing expectations and building on the accomplishments of the first two books in the series.
The story is told in three strands. That of Essun, and the remnants of the comm of Castrima as they make a difficult forced march across the wracked continent of The Stillness to find refuge of a sort in the abandoned city of Renmanis. Concurrently, the flight of Nessun and the Guardian Schaffa from Jekitty comm, where Nessun has killed her father Jija in self defence, to Corepoint reveals the bones of the the Earth, in all its magesty and magic. These contemporary acounts are interwoven with the story of the origins of the Stillness, many thousands of years past. The reasons for the Seasons, the arrogance and hubris of the civilization of Syl Anagist is laid bare. We learn how the Guardians were made, and how the Stone Eaters came to be.
In the final confrontation, Essun and Nesun face a terrible choice. Must the Earth be ended to end the suffering, or might great sacrifice be able to mend the world.
The previous two volumes in the series have set a high bar, each being awarded a Hugo Award for best novel. The concluding volume is if anything better still. These are characters that one can feel for and care for. Even the monsters can be redeemed, and no one is free of fault or tragedy.
I thought her earlier books were good. This trilogy is....extrodinary. I expected it to be good, but this is so far better than that. The plot is great; the world is very believable (although it shouldn't be, it is); and the way the story is told is just wonderful.
HOWEVER, quality of all 3 trilogy paperbacks is really poor, within first 5 minutes all 4 edges of the books corners begin to peel.
Towards the end, the different voices where a bit confusing, but I guess that is for a second reading to listen to.
Majestic in scope, well defined characters finely-detailed in emotional nuance, exquisitely written. Whether taken as a parable or simply a cracking good story, this trilogy is satisfying on every level.
I have a new author to admire.