Finally, after months and months of trying to make time for this book, I’ve finished it.
Don’t let that be a reflection on the book; it’s not its fault. I wasn’t reading much of anything when I first checked out The Stone Sky. It’d been over a year since I read The Obelisk Gate, and though my reviews helped me remember what had happened, picking up the pieces and jumping back in was a bigger job than I was prepared to do.
But, I kept trying.
And finally, almost six months later, it’s done.
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
As in the previous two novels, Jemisin does some really interesting things with point of view, bouncing between three characters and their various timelines to tell the story of struggle and survival as Essun and her daughter unknowingly work against each other. The author spent the last two books developing the world, magic system, and characters, while delicately weaving the thread of plot through each of them, much like the silver threads of magic in the books.
By the time we get to The Stone Sky, things are getting dire. Nassun and Schaffa follow the mysterious grey Stoneater to the opposite side of the world, while Essun and the Castrima comm travel the dangerous road to the now abandoned city of Renanis.
But, it was the third point of view that was my favorite. For the first time in the series, there is a First Person narrator. It’s vague and set far back in the past, but as the story goes on you slowly put the pieces together and realize who’s been telling this story all along.
Honestly, we really should have known.
I don’t want to get too spoiler-y here, but I do need to talk a bit about this series from a writer’s perspective. This series is one that, with every book, had me constantly in awe. N.K. Jemisin is an artist. She told a story from a multitude of perspectives, many of which I could not readily relate to, and had me invested in each and every possible outcome.
She is an author who is purposeful and methodical. Nothing came across as superfluous or unnecessary, and I often had to stop and marvel at what I’d just read, especially when I realized how it connected with something I’d read in a previous book.
I will never tell a story the way N.K. Jemisin does. That’s okay. But, she has most definitely inspired me and reminded me that writing doesn’t have to be unadorned to be clear, and that genre fiction doesn’t have to be mainstream to be popular.
I cried at the end; because it was sad, yes, but also because it was perfect. How else could it have possibly ended? Ending a story, especially one as complex as The Broken Earth, is never easy. Rarely do I come to the end of a beloved series and feel satisfied with the outcome.
But, by the time I finally closed The Stone Sky for the last time, I felt… whole. There was a warmth in my chest at finally having all the pieces, and knowing how Essun, Nassun, Hoa, and all the rest ended the Fifth Season and set the world right.
It was powerful and poignant, and the series addressed such universal themes as birth, motherhood, death, and what makes a family. And it did so in a way that was indisputably natural for the world and its characters.
I still think The Fifth Season was the best book in the trilogy, in terms of enjoyment, but it was also the most straightforward of the tales. It developed the world and, really, a single character, while setting the tone and expectation of the narrative. The Obelisk Gate handled two new characters, and the bulk of the action and plot. The Stone Sky had the daunting task of bringing all of that together in a way that was effective and satisfying.
No easy task, and yet, it did so with apparent ease.
I really hope The Stone Sky wins the Hugo for Best Novel this year. I really think it and N.K. Jemisin deserve it. It’s worth mentioning here (and pretty much anywhere else) that Jemisin was the first black author to win the Hugo for Best Novel in 2016 for The Fifth Season. She did it again in 2017 for The Obelisk Gate.
I recently purchased another of her books, The Dreamblood Duology, of which I know nothing about. I bought it purely because she wrote it, and I adore her thanks to the Broken Earth trilogy. Her name on the book was all the coercion I needed.
Sadly, I won’t be reading anything from her again anytime soon. My reading list is pretty stacked at the moment. Hopefully the last half of the year will have some room to spread out and try something new.
Until then, I highly recommend The Broken Earth trilogy. Read it. You won’t be sorry.