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410 pages, Paperback
First published August 16, 2016
“But if you stay, no part of this comm gets to decide that any part of this comm is expendable. No voting on who gets to be people.”
“You serve a higher purpose, little one. Not any single man’s desire—not even mine. You were not made for such petty things.”
“This is a terrible thing that she is saying. It is a terrible thing that she loves herself.”
There is such a thing as too much loss. Too much has been taken from you both - taken and taken and taken, until there's nothing left but hope, and you've given that up because it hurts too much. Until you would rather die, or kill, or avoid attachments altogether, than lose one more thing.
Something of her is warped out of true by this moment, and from now on all her acts of affection toward her father will be calculated, performative. Her childhood dies, for all intents and purposes. But that is better than all of her dying, she knows.
“Perhaps,” Schaffa tells her as she sobs these words. “But you are my monster.”
“I want to keep telling you this as I have: in your mind, in your voice, telling you what to think and know. Do you find this rude? It is, I admit. Selfish. When I speak as just myself, it's difficult to feel like part of you. It is lonelier. Please; let me continue a bit longer.”
“Alabaster... this has always been his way. The surprise gesture, the backhanded compliment that you could choose to take for teasing or an insult. You've hardened so much without this. Without him. You seem strong, healthy, but inside you feel like he looks: nothing but brittle stone and scars, prone to cracking if you bend too much. You try to smile, and fail. He doesn't try. You just look at each other. It's nothing and everything at once.”
“Don’t rust it up, Essun. Innon and I didn’t love you for nothing.”
“The way of the world isn’t the strong devouring the weak, but the weak deceiving and poisoning and whispering in the ears of the strong until they become weak, too.”
“It’s not hate that you’re seeing. Hate requires emotion. What this woman has simply done is realize that you are a rogga, and decide that you aren’t a person, just like that.”
You’ve hardened so much without this. Without him. You seem strong, healthy, but inside you feel like he looks; nothing but brittle stone and scars, prone to cracking if you bend too much.
You try to smile, and fail. He doesn’t try. You just look at each other. It’s nothing and everything at once.
We cannot be permitted to win. So this is a confession, my Essun. I’ve betrayed you already and I will do it again. You haven’t even chosen a side yet, and already I fend off those who would recruit you to their cause. Already I plot your death. It’s necessary. But I can at least try my damnedest to give your life a meaning that will last till the world ends.
“Using that to channel the power of the Rift should be enough.”
“To do what?”
For the first time, you hear a note of emotion in her voice: annoyance. “To impose equilibrium on the Earth-Moon system.”
What. “Alabaster said the Moon was flung away.”
“Into a degrading long-ellipsis orbit.” When you stare blankly, she speaks your language again. “It’s coming back.”
Oh, Earth. Oh, rust. Oh, no. “You want me to catch the fucking Moon?”
He loses so much else, though. Understand: The Schaffa that we have known thus far, the Schaffa whom Damaya learned to fear and Syenite learned to defy, is now dead. What remains is a man with a habit of smiling, a warped paternal instinct, and a rage that is not wholly his own driving everything he does from this point on.
By now you've gotten over that devilishly clever writing devise that Ms Jemisin wielded in book one and, like me, you're eager to continue the journey with Essun, unwavering in your desire to uncover the secrets of this strange but fascinating world.
And you're not disappointed.
This is writing at par with the Sandersons, Bardugos et al. NK is a master storyteller!