Now that I’ve finished N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky, the last volume in her Broken Earth trilogy, I wish that I had heeded Jeff O’Neal of Book Riot, who refuses to read series until they are finished. I waited a year between each volume of this book and clearly forgot a lot of important details. Because each book in the series picks up immediately where the last one left off, I would have been better off waiting and then reading them all over a weekend.
At the end of The Obelisk Gate, our heroine Essun had helped save her community from annihilation and her daughter, Nassun, faced down her murderous father. Now, both are on the move. Essun is traveling north to find a new place to live with her community before leaving them to use the power of the Obelisk Gate to put their planet to rights. Nassun is also heading for the Obelisk Gate. Neither of these characters wants things to continue as they are—with deadly Seasons constantly trying to wipe out every living then—but they have very different ideas about how to change the world.
Essun’s plan is to restore the planet’s moon will help stop the earthquakes and volcanos. She hopes that humans and orogenes (humans with the ability to manipulate forces and stone) will be able to live in peace once they’re no longer struggling just to survive. Nassun, however, wants to burn it all down. In her scant ten years of life, she’s seen too much violence and hatred. She hasn’t lived long enough to see how people can change; she just sees the same patterns playing out over and over. The Stone Sky is, then, a race to see who will get to the Gate first and change or end the world.
The Stone Sky also takes us deeper into the past, so that we can see how the war between life and death started—as well as how the prejudice against orogenes developed. I found these sections hugely interesting, mostly because they made it clear just how far humanity had fallen in the centuries since the Obelisk Gate was created. Humans were capable of amazing things but were brought down to their current subsistence levels of living through purest hubris. (As per usual.) I wanted very much to play Cassandra for these characters and it was only by sheer force of will that I wasn’t actually shouting at the book in my living room.
This book is so packed with searing emotional dilemmas and conflict, rich detail of a world in peril, and intriguing history that it was a pity (I thought) that the ending was so rushed. It’s possible that I was fooled into expecting more because the kindle app was telling me that I still had about 9% of the book to go when I reached the actual end of The Stone Sky, but I wanted more—just more—at the end of the book. Events happen so quickly that the conclusion felt too easy to me. It’s also possible that if I had waited to read all the books at once, I would have been more ready for the end after so many hundreds of pages.
And now to wait for whatever Jemisin cooks up next…