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Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

Orbit, 464 pages, $16.99

This is not a mystery.

The Broken Earth trilogy has been a terrific series! “The Stone Sky” completes N. K. Jemisin’s outstanding fantasy work, following “The Fifth Season” and “The Obelisk Gate.” I also applaud Jemisin’s commitment to getting the books in the series out to her readers in a timely fashion. I have been waiting for YEARS for some sequels from other authors.

Essun and her daughter, ten-year-old Nassun, are the special people upon whom human survival depends. In this last book, Jemisin reveals the genesis of how people like Essun and Nassun are able to affect geological events, like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which they can cause or quell.

There are many timely issues: ecology, misuse of natural resources, biospheres, biotic interconnectedness, the complex definitions of who or what is human and non-human, and the moral cost of subjugation.

Essun and Nassun have spent most of the books separated. A tragic cataclysm drove them apart and an even greater one threatens to destroy all life on the surface. It is only when the end is near that they might manage to meet again.

Finally, Jemisin solves one of the predominant mysteries of the series: Who is the books’ narrator? The narrator has slowly come into focus. The narrator has a surprising role to play and an intriguing final story to tell. The narrator is the only one who can tie what caused the beginning of the disruptive fifth seasons with the current stories of Essun and Nassun.

Life in a chaotic fifth season is not easy and the myriad problems never have black or white answers. That is what makes this book so riveting. And that is what makes this final book so satisfying.

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