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The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

book cover of The Stone Sky

This was a wonderful capstone to the trilogy. Things have come a long way since the first book, of course – where that one told a relatively straightforward, easy-to-follow story, this one is filled with historical background and technical descriptions of how exactly “magic” in this world operates. I actually had to look up some things after finishing the book, because some of those descriptions weren’t quite clear enough for me to be confident I got it. However, the book also built up awesomely towards a spectacular showdown, as mother and daughter finally collided.

There are three perspective characters in The Stone Sky, Essun and Nassun again, and Hoa for the first time telling us his own story and not just others'. These perspectives cover two separate eras in time: one just before the Shattering, explaining how and why the Earth came to be as miserable as it is; and the other in the present day, as the Moon draws ever closer to Earth and offers Essun perhaps the only chance she’ll ever get to save humanity.

If I haven’t mentioned it already, one of the things this series has really had going for it is its rich depictions of the relationships between characters – Schaffa and Damaya, Syenite and Alabaster, Schaffa and Nassun, Essun and Hoa… – and this final instalment is really powered by those relationships. Love – that of parent and child, or close friends – is what drives so many of these characters, in a messily desperate way, and I’ve found it so compelling.

Hoa’s backstory, too, was pretty interesting, and something a bit different from the bulk of these last two books. The very idea of how the people of ancient Syl Anagist powered their city… it was chilling. I liked the character of Kelenli, and was intrigued to follow the development of Hoa and his fellows, all the way back then.

Overall I’ve been really impressed with this series. The three books, together, have told an enthralling story. I’d highly recommend them to any fantasy reader; they’re something unique and very, very good.

Books in The Broken Earth trilogy

  1. The Fifth Season
  2. The Obelisk Gate
  3. The Stone Sky (you are here)

★★★★

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.