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The Broken Earth #3

The Stone Sky

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2017)
This is the way the world ends... for the last time.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother's mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

The remarkable conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed trilogy that began with the multi-award-nominated The Fifth Season.

416 pages, Paperback

First published August 15, 2017

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About the author

N.K. Jemisin

133 books53.5k followers
N. K. Jemisin lives and works in New York City.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,167 reviews98.2k followers
August 21, 2018

ARC provided by Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

1.) The Fifth Season ★★★★★
2.) The Obelisk Gate ★★★★

“Some worlds are built on a fault line of pain, held up by nightmares. Don't lament when those worlds fall. Rage that they were built doomed in the first place.”

You guys, I’m speechless. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read as perfect of a conclusion as The Stone Sky. The Stone Sky easily makes my best of 2017 list, and is also without a doubt one of the most powerful masterpieces I’ve ever read in my entire life. I will cherish this book series until the end of my days, while also trying to convince every single living soul to give this series a shot. Please give The Fifth Season a shot. It is worth more than every ounce of hype and praise it has received. I recommend this series to any and everyone I know. Not just SFF lovers, hell, not even just book lovers; I recommend this to every human being. And I dare you to finish this series, turn that last page, and not feel the urge to change this ugly world we live in today.

This series is a SFF dystopian, where earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other terrible things impacting the earth are constantly happening, but orogenes are able to manipulate the earth to ease them. Even though orogenes are continually saving the world they are constantly oppressed slaves. This world has convinced everyone that orogenes are dangerous and need to be controlled at all costs. Everyone in the Stillness is trying to survive the world's unforgiving environment. This planet is beyond unstable, because of Fifth Seasons. Two years have passed since The Fifth Season and in this concluding book our main characters are looking for a way to stop the Seasons once and for all.

“They’re afraid because we exist, she says, There’s nothing we did to provoke their fear, other than exist. There’s nothing we can do to earn their approval, except stop existing—so we can either die like they want, or laugh at their cowardice and go on with our lives.”

The greatest thing about this series is that it seamlessly mirrors the world we live in today. This book will make you think about your internalized racism and the prejudices that you hold without even realizing it. I mean, look at what is going on in the United States right now. Look at how we are allowing actual Nazis free hate speech. Look who we elected, because people’s hearts were filled with so much hate. Look how we are trying to protect confederate statues, while allowing our government to bulldoze native sites for pipelines. Hate is a powerful force, and white supremacy is real. Charlottesville is happening all over our world, and we don’t need orogeny to stop it, either.

“But for a society built on exploitation, there is no greater threat than having no one left to oppress.”

I wrote in my review for The Obelisk Gate that the heart of this novel is oppression, but the soul of this novel is motherhood, and I stand by this assessment even more so. Again, I’m not a mother, but the underlying theme of parenthood and the indescribable love between a mother and child is something so pure and beautiful. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings and emotions this book was able to evoke from me.

The constant messages and reminders of the importance of found families is also something that I appreciate with every bone in my body. I don’t want to keep using the word beautiful, but these messages that N.K. Jemisin has created are nothing short of the word beautiful. Blood is just that, blood, but choosing to spend your days with people who unconditionally love and support you is the true meaning of family.

Just thinking of the people who have followed Essun throughout her journey makes me weep from equal parts of joy and sadness. I loved seeing people love the broken parts of Essun, seeing her friends love the strong woman she always was all along, seeing her family choose to follow her to the end of the Earth.

“…if you love someone, you don’t get to choose how they love you back.”

And seeing the choices that Nassun made all by herself from both places of hurt and love just broke my heart. The choices we all make from being hurt or being loved is a discussion I could write pages and pages on. The feelings and emotions in this book are so very complex and the narrative only makes you feel everything intensified. Right now, as I’m writing this review, I’m equal parts heartbreak and hope.

“It’s just that love and hate aren’t mutually exclusive”

And the representation in this book is the best I’ve ever read in all my years. First off, this book is unapologetically and beautifully black. Next, N.K. Jemisin writes about systematic oppression expertly. Then, she also seamlessly writes in LGBT+ representation effortlessly. This book has the best written trans side character I’ve ever read about. I’ve said it before, and I’ll scream it from the rooftops again: every author should strive to write representation like N.K. Jemisin.

The writing is also exquisite. The prose is a tier above the rest. The narrative in unique and heartfelt. The world building is nothing short of perfection. The themes are relevant, important, and inspiring. The acknowledgments broke my heart. This series is truly a masterpiece.

This is one of the best stories I’ve ever read in my entire life. No amount of words I can write here is going to do it justice, so I can only ask, or beg, you to pick it up and see for yourself. Thank you, N.K. Jemisin, for this masterpiece. I will never stop moving forward, and I will never stop fighting for a better world.

“We could’ve all been safe and comfortable together, surviving together, but they didn’t want that. Now nobody gets to be safe. Maybe that’s what it will take for them to finally realize things have to change.”

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Buddy Read with Mary & Petrik
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
531 reviews58.5k followers
January 2, 2019
(4.5?) Way to start the year on a good note!

Great end to this series, the pace was better than book two. A fascinating magic system and world building that I will now recommend to fantasy lovers!
Profile Image for Petrik.
674 reviews42.8k followers
August 12, 2018
Buddy read with my favorite Orogenes: Melanie & Mary

Jemisin has truly outdone herself with this book and trilogy. The Stone Sky, contrary to my expectation, has somehow become one of the best conclusions to a trilogy I’ve ever read, it’s simply extraordinary.

My experience reading this trilogy can be summed up as if I’m on a see-saw. I loved the first book, dislike and disappointed with the second book, and then this one, I absolutely loved it. I was never bored with it and loved every single moment reading this book. I’ll be honest here, somewhere around the middle of this book, I thought to myself “Hmm okay this is great but it seems like Jemisin can’t surpass what she did in The Fifth Season” , I couldn’t be more wrong.

If I was to judge this trilogy only from the first book, I would never have thought that the scope of the story will ever become this gigantic. I mean, the story spanned for thousands of years, and I love how it reminds us that the past will always influence the future, but it doesn’t mean we have to live and be stuck in it.

“How can we prepare for the future if we won’t acknowledge the past?”

Every question you have on the story so far will be answered here, what the Obelisk Gate truly is, the origin of Orogene, how the Shattering occurred, what caused the endless Fifth Season, everything and I mean literally everything from the first book is a preparation for the last five chapters of this book, which was full of revelations and imbued with emotionally thrilling climax sequences. It was without a doubt groundbreakingly marvelous.

I have to also note that the world-building and prose in this installment are insanely good. Anybody who’s a fan of great world-building will definitely love this book and overall trilogy. However, the best part about The Stone Sky imo is its stellar character developments and interactions. As Jemisin said, the main theme of the trilogy is not about the post-apocalyptic world, the science, nope, they’re all great but the main theme at its core is about love and motherhood.

“I think,” Hoa says slowly, “that if you love someone, you don’t get to choose how they love you back.”

I can't stress this highly enough, this trilogy contains one of the finest storytelling on the topic of motherhood and parenthood in a sci-fi fantasy story I’ve ever read, probably ever. It tells us once again just how important love is, not even in a romance kind of way but just loves, towards your friends, family, and even strangers. Because this book is wonderful in its way of telling us how not only someone blood related, but a stranger could also become someone you can consider family within a short period of time.

“She has seen him fight his own brutal nature, and the Earth itself, in order to be the parent she needs. He has helped her learn to love herself for what she is.”

I haven’t read any of Jemisin’s other series but I highly doubt that she ever wrote something as great as this installment. I don’t even know how she’ll be able to surpass this particular book in the future. The Stone Sky is truly a stunning conclusion to a trilogy, I didn’t expect to love this one as much as I do, but this is definitely going on my 'favorites' shelf. It’s beautiful, poignant, and most of all, emotionally impactful. This is due to the reason that Jemisin faced truly hard moments during the time of publishing this book, specifically on her mother’s passing.

You can read it in detail in the acknowledgment section, and you MUST do so. I legit almost cried reading the acknowledgment, I’m closing this review with a small section from it, and what I'm sure Jemisin is trying to convey to us all on what 'The Stone Sky' means to her and her readers. Even with my personal dislike about the second book, The Broken Earth trilogy is still a journey worth undertaking, Jemisin has poured all her emotions into this book and you won’t regret reading it.

“I definitely haven’t been in the best place while working on this book, but I can say this much: Where there is pain in this book, it is real pain; where there is anger, it is real anger; where there is love, it is real love. You’ve been taking this journey with me, and you’re always going to get the best of what I’ve got. That’s what my mother would want.” – N. K. Jemisin

Series review

The Fifth Season: 4.5/5 Stars

The Obelisk Gate: 2.5/5 Stars

The Stone Sky: 5/5 Stars

The Broken Earth trilogy: 12/15 Stars

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,964 followers
August 8, 2017
There's really no easy way to put this, so I'll come right out and say it.

This is one of the very best stories I've ever read.

All together now, all three books in this trilogy, together, make up one hell of a great story.

I am amazed. I cried. I was blown away by the sheer immensity of what was going on, of the implications and the revelations and the final action.

Sure, we knew that one of two things must happen by the end of the second book, but I hadn't quite realized just how invested I'd have gotten by that point. I didn't know how it would happen or what kinds of complications might arise or just how much enemies had turned into allies or who was good or bad... because that was never the point of these books.

We are all people. Every single one of us... whether stone eater, rogga, or still. The fact that the point is far from belabored, rather gorgeous in exploration and execution, makes it more than icing on this cake. I'm simply shaken to my core.

This is one of the best stories I've ever read.

It's more than sheer imagination, storytelling skill, world-building, or fantastically complicated characters or world-shattering events. It's ART.

I am 100% squealing fanboy here.

I actually whooped aloud as I was reading and startled my daughter. :)

THIS is why I read. This is the sheer fascination I always try to hold onto. :)

Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
282 reviews504 followers
February 8, 2022
"I am forty thousand years old... Give or take a few millennia."

"Words are too much, too indelicate, for this conversation."

At long last, we are at the end of an extraordinary journey. Jemisin, yet again, has outdone her with The Stone Sky, bringing a spectacular ending to one of the best fantasy series of all time. And as usual, 'you realize belatedly,' what you don't know about Stillness is considerably more compared what you do know, even with two massive two books finished already. This was a mind blowing ending.

"It's dawn when you decide to change the world."

I started the last book only expecting action, assuming the author had covered pretty much everything about the backstory by now. But as it turns out, those seemingly irrelavent loopholes in the first two books still had some major roles to play here, right up to the very last chapter. Compared to first two books, the build up in suspense towards the end is even more pronounced, reaching the climax only during the last couple of chapters to deliver an impactful ending.

"The Earth forgets neither those who stabbed it in the back... nor those who put the knife in our hand."

At this point of the series, it comes rarely as a surprise how good Jemisin's writing, world building, and character development is. It felt like she had thought out the entire sequence of events from first book to last even before start writing the first book. The congruence, continuation and consistency between the three books couldn't've been as good otherwise. But who knows... May be Jemisin is that good!

"People believe what they wan to believe, not what is actually there to be seen and touched."

It was quite thrilling to reach the ending of this immersive series at last, but it's a little sad to see that this is really the end for all these amazing characters. I guess re-read of the trilogy will have to be the only consolation. Jemisin made my all-time-favorite author list with this single series, and while I'm tempted to do so, I'm now a little worried whether reading any of her other books might be disappointing compared to this. But hopefully that apprehension only applies to her past work, and looking forward to more great things from her down the line. I'll finish my review by saying, as of right now, Jemisin's The Broken Earth is the only other series to reach the place I hold for favorite fantasy series of all time, a place held only by Bardugo's SoC duology until now.

"In absence of all else, people run on hope."
"I think that if you love someone, you don't get to choose how they love you back."

Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
April 26, 2023
Update as of February 2023: While I stand by my point that both TOG and TSS are a bit more plodding than book one, I must say that Nassun is kind of everything to me. And I’m not convinced I really understood this as well at 17 as I do now.

“I think,” Hoa says slowly, “that if you love someone, you don’t get to choose how they love you back.”

You can always check out my reviews of The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate, but I’ll give a brief summary of my thoughts: This series won three Hugo awards in a row for a reason. The characters make me feel everything I possibly can. The worldbuilding is incredibly complex but not so convoluted as to be boring. The first book, which is still the best one, is a twisty mess and I adored it. There are reveals everywhere, about the world and the characters and the plot and so much more. The buildup and payoff dynamics are excellent. The thematic core around oppression is fucking awesome and done with an all-black and majority-queer cast.

There are two things I will say about this book. First of all, is a loss; I missed him throughout the novel both in investment and in missing the dynamism he brought. Secondly, when I first read this series at seventeen, I read The Stone Sky entirely on audiobook and barely understand the backstory chapters. Though I absolutely adore Robin Miles and want you all to see what a fantastic job she does narrating these books, I don’t think this particular book is the best choice for an audiobook. You will be confused.

The Stone Sky once again receives POVs from three characters; Essun, Nassun, and a new narrator who has narrated all along - Hoa.

Essun is so mentally strong, so drily sarcastic, and so gorgeously developed. Even in her unlikability - which only amplifies in this book - it is impossible not to root for her.

Nassun continues to become more and more of an antihero over time, and this book emphasizes the aspect which has always existed in her - her desperate need to be loved. When She’s also still such a fucking… teenager, and I find it really endearing and deeply sympathetic. She means so much to me.

Hoa, meanwhile, allows us to reveal the past of the Stillness. Via the biggest angel of an immortal stone creature I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.

This series has just been… a really good experience for me. In general. And I love these characters, so much, and I don’t think I could ever really hate a book containing them. So, we have a new narrator who we’ve all been desperately awaiting for a book now, and the characters - especially Nassun - have changed a lot since book two. Which is so awesome. You can really feel the development in them and the conflict within them.

But you know what really made this book for me? The conflict around motherhood.

I mean, since the beginning, this series has been adamant about how loving someone is not enough for them to know you love them, and drilled into our heads that Essun has not always been the best mother. But I wasn’t expecting… payoff. I was not expecting the degree to which a mother can mistreat her daughter, despite loving her, despite thinking she is doing the right thing, to become the focus.

I love that it has become the focus.

I can’t believe what a good job this story has done at balancing Nassun and Essun in this conflict, at seeing both their motivations and realizing that neither one is completely wrong or completely right, not really. It is not about which is right, but about whether or not they will be able to break a cycle of generational trauma created by the Earth itself.

Now they’ll all know. Every season is the Season for us. The apocalypse that never ends.

And then… the ending. It’s just stunning. I love the writing of it - we finally see a powerplay we’ve been building up to for three books. I love the character bit of it - it is utterly gutwrenching. And I love the hope in it, and the sense that even though the world is fucked up, there is always, always hope. If you look hard enough.

I'll miss this series.

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Profile Image for Nick Imrie.
287 reviews128 followers
October 4, 2017
This book opens at the peak of edgy grimdark with this little gem:
And I will tell you everything of how, later, as the quiet of death descended, I whispered:
Right now.
Right now.
And the Earth whispered back:

Which is so melodramatic that I could only imagine Hoa dressed as a teenage goth girl and I laughed out loud.

The Broken Earth is hateful trilogy of hating; so it's appropriate that book 3 emphasised that the Earth was alive and conscious and really really hated humanity. Like every other character in this book, Father Earth was petty and resentful, even going so far as to descend to the most childish of self-justifications: 'You started this!' He wanted revenge on humans because they tried to drill to the core, without stopping to think about how Earth would feel about that. Of course, humans didn't know that Earth was living and conscious, so they never gave a second though to his feelings. This was presented as a terrible failure on the part of humanity:

So where they should have seen a living being; they saw only another thing to exploit. Where they should have asked, or left alone, they raped.

Well, I'm sorry, but Father Earth was actually the one at fault here. Humans didn't know that Earth was conscious, but Earth knew that humans were. Why didn't he make some attempt to reach out and communicate? Instead, he just bided his time, let humans continue in their blithe ignorance, and went straight to genocide as his first move. Not cool, Earth. Not cool.

The next paragraph got weird and vindictive:

For some crimes there is no fitting justice – only reparation. So for every iota of life siphoned from beneath the Earth's skin, the Earth has dragged a million human remnants into its heart. Bodies rot in soil, after all – and soil sits upon tectonic plates, plates eventually subduct into the fire under the Earth's crust, which convect endlessly through the mantle... and there within itself, the Earth eats everything they were. This is only fair, it reasons – coldly, with an anger that still shudders up from the depths to crack the world's skin and touch off Season after Season.

In every other human mythology it's understood that life comes from the earth and returns to earth and this is a good thing! Only in the twisted, miserable world of The Stillness is this not a natural part of the cycle, but an act of bitter revenge. It's also rather peculiar because presumably people were burying their dead long before the drilling started, which confusingly suggests that Earth was hating humanity long before they gave him a reason to – or perhaps somehow in the past he absorbed the dead but, like, not in a mean way? I don't know.

Of course, Father Earth was just acting like every other character in the book. Alabaster began by tolerating the Fulcrum right up until he ripped the Earth in half. Essun kept her secrets in Tirimo until she murdered them all. Nobody in The Stillness seemed to understand the concept of attempting negotiation before waging war, attempting reform before launching revolution, attempting reconciliation rather than genocide, or ever, ever giving anyone else the benefit of the doubt.

Which brings us to the Stone Eaters. It was pretty cool to discover that the stone eaters were created as a living bridge between the humans of the great civilisation of Syl Anagist and the powers of orogeny that the Sylanagistines were trying to control.
They were created in the image of The Niess, a tribe of people who were objectively better at using magic than the Sylanagistines, and were subsequently destroyed and dissected by the Sylanagistines in search of the biological cause of their superiority (of course, this is The Stillness, so apparently nobody thought to ask them first, or observe. Nope, it's all genocide, all the time, here on the Stillness).
So the Sylanagistines have created the Stone Eaters and actually given them the power that the Niess were only rumoured to have. Despite being their creators, the Sylanagistines were totally unaware of the real extent of the power of the Stone Eaters. This lead to an narrative of oppression that we're all familiar with from books 1 and 2. The Stone Eaters accepted their role until they were taken on a field trip of the city and learnt that the whole city was powered by the corpses of the Niess:

Some of them we can see breathing, though the motion is so very slow. Many wear tattered rags for clothes, dry-rotted with years; a few are naked. Their hair and nails have not grown, and their bodies have not produced waste that we can see. Nor can they feel pain, I sense instinctively; this, at least, is a kindness. That is because the sinklines take all the magic of life from them save the bare trickle needed to keep them alive. Keeping them alive keeps them generating more.

I don't mean to be unfeeling, but this is a perpetual motion machine! If you put in a bare trickle of magic and yet they put out more magic than you put in, then you have an unlimited supply of energy and there's no need to drill to the core of the earth! Problem solved!
One might say that even if they Sylanagistines realised that they have an actual source of unlimited energy! it'd still wrong to use human beings as batteries. As a metaphor for slavery or imperialism, it's obvious as an anvil, but as something that we're supposed to accept as literally true within the world, it's a little hard to swallow. Hoa wondered about their scientist guide: 'It is as if he does not see what we're seeing. As if these stored, componentized lives mean nothing to him.' It is indeed exactly like that! I had to re-read it to check that the bodies were literally there and not something only visible to the Stone Eaters. Why didn't they ask him about it? Why didn't they try to get him to acknowledge the vast corpse field or justify it? Why did people never, ever speak to each other like normal human beings in this book? No instead, they accepted it silently and began to plot - what else – mass-murder of the the Sylanagistines.
This is so frustrating for the reader. The Sylanagistines perpetrated some of the worst evil. And yet, in every other respect they're depicted as normal people. This is a disconnect that can only be bridged by letting them speak out and show how normal people rationalise and excuse the wrong that they do.
Likewise, it's not clear how these scientists controled and punished the Stone Eaters. There are references to it like: 'I understand precisely why Kelenli has spoken in this dismissive tone, and why she hasn't bothered to say farewell before leaving. It's no more than any of us do, when we must watch or sess another of our network punished, we pretend not to care.' but without every saying what the punishments are!
I can't help but feel in the end that we were never told what the punishments are so that we never got to form our own judgements. Likewise, we never heard any Sylanagistine explanation for their actions, just in case we agreed with them! Much easier not to ask and just take Hoa's word for it, staying safely in his perspective.
And although we've seen enough horror to last a lifetime, what Hoa reacted to most is petty disrespect:

They keep such lax security on us. […] Some of the sensors monitor our magic usage – and none of them, not one, can measure even a tenth of what we really do. I would be insulted if I had not just been shown how important it is to them that we be lesser. Lesser creatures don't need better monitoring, do they? Creations of Sylanagistine magestry cannot possibly have abilities that surpass it. Unthinkable! Ridiculous! Don't be foolish.
Fine. I am insulted. And I no longer have the patience for Stahnyn's polite patronization.

There is more rage about workplace patronization than there was about the field of corpses. And it's so woefully misplaced. Hoa assumed that they want him to be lesser, instead of realising that they might've genuinely believe it because he'd been making an effort to act that way: they didn't respect his power because he'd been carefully hiding it from them! And of course, it never occurred to him to gain their respect by showing his power or trying to initiate a conversation. No, he wanted a tighter prison and closer surveillance as proof of their respect!

Hoa wasn't the only character with tragically misplaced priorities. Nassun, when deliberating whether to fix the world or destroy it, remembered the day when she came home to find that her father had murdered her brother. For three paragraphs she remembered in hideous detail her baby brother's broken, bleeding body. She remembered what a sweet boy he was, and how she made him laugh and she finally concluded: 'I wouldn't fix it, Schaffa. I wouldn't, I'm sorry, I don't want to fix it. I want to kill everybody that hates me!'
I was genuinely shocked at this. What kind of hideous narcissist is so self-centred that she remembers a murdered child and rages that they world hates her instead of him? Or even us! She could have wept for her brother, or for orogenes everywhere, but instead she wept only for herself.
Minor slips of the tongue that reveal the unpleasant nature of the characters are littered through out the book. At one point Essun gave a friend a compliment and thought: 'It's an olive branch. Or maybe just flattery. She doesn't fall for it. People don't fall for olive branches, they accept them. Only a cynic who was trying trick her friend would think of it as falling.
Ok, ok, so I realise that I'm nitpicking now, but I came to find these characters so repellent that everything they said seemed to be poisonous. I felt as though this book were a world seen in a mirror that made everything beautiful seem ugly, and everything good seem sordid. It was just too bleak.

Not only did I start nit-picking everything the characters said, but I loathed them so much that I diverted my attention to nitpicking the worldbuilding. After waiting for 3 books to wrap up, I can safely say that I don't quite believe the status of the orogenes in this world. They are hated and reviled everywhere, and it's revealed that this is because the Guardians, under the direction of Father Earth, have been spreading the hatred. But the orogenes have proven themselves far too useful. Castrima and Moev are the two of the more successful comms that we see in the book, and they both succeed due to the acceptance of orogenes. Book 3 is even filled with flavour-text about orogenes doing great things and saving towns. It seems like a much more stable equilibrium would be for comms to agree to harbor the orogenes and hide them from the Guardians, and in return the orogenes only use their power lawfully, if they try to hurt anyone with it then they get betrayed to the Guardians.

If the stone-eaters could transport people through the earth in large numbers at vast speeds then why on Earth did the people of Castrima have to make that tedious forced march to Rennanis? Hoa could have ferried them all much faster and then they could've got on with the plot.

I was holding out for the Season to be explained, but it never was. I know this is fantasy and not SF, but at the same time, I'm pretty sure that if there were a vent in the Earth the size of a continent, spewing so much detritus that it rained ash for two years, then the consequences would be a lot worse than just very ashy and a bit cold. When Mount Tambora erupted in 1815 then 1816 was known as 'The Year without Summer' or 'eighteen-hundred and froze to death'.

OK, I'm becoming as petty as the characters in this book, banging on about minor discrepancies. Suffice to say that I'm glad that I read this series, although I've slated it. It had so much promise, so much inventiveness, so many moments of great writing and psychological insight, I only wish that they'd been stitched together better and that there had been somebody to like or something to alleviate the grim monotony of the story.
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews931 followers
August 30, 2017
Oh well gee, golly, gosh, let me just to review this masterpiece, no problem, easy peasy???

The further I get into a series, the harder it is for me to review each individual book because so much of my opinion relies on understanding everything that happened in the preceding books. More than usual, I find it so difficult to express what this series has made me feel.

Just saying "it was amazing" or "it was mind-blowing" starts to feel repetitive & those common compliments don't really do the novel justice. That is 1000% the case with The Broken Earth trilogy.

This series is so complex, so full of raw emotion, & so beautifully distinct from other books of this genre.

The writing here is some of the most engrossing I've ever read in my life. Jemisin is equal parts artist & scientist with her eloquent prose & meticulously organized plot points.

I always say that I struggle to stay engaged with Hard Sci-Fi. I don't know if these books should be classified as Hard Sci-Fi, as they don't drone on & on in bouts of irrelevant tech speak, but they're similar in that there are so many facets to the science.

But where Hard Sci-Fi often strikes me as boring, this series had me solidly engaged. It seems almost as though it's morphed together a handful sub-genres under the SFF banner & created an umbrella all its own.

The scope of this story makes me feel so small; it is so full of detail & history that I feel as though I'm reading about events that have actually played out in some far away universe.

Something I really appreciate in a series is reread value. I have no doubt The Broken Earth is a series that will have more to reveal upon each read through.

The wrap of to this series is devastating but also wonderfully appropriate & well-crafted. I believe with this concluding novel Jemisin has truly set herself apart, not just as an author, but also as a vital contributor to the direction in which Fantasy will evolve as time goes on.

I can say no more than to read this series & take the journey for yourself, but I will caution you that you must have patience. Nothing is immediately clear, and this story takes its time revealing itself to you, but I promise it is more than worth it.

Honored to have read this with the wonderful, beautiful, amazing Melanie 💜 and the sweet, adorable, darling Petrik! 💜

This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!
Profile Image for Nicole.
731 reviews1,830 followers
February 5, 2023
The Fifth Season: ★★★★
The Obelisk Gate: ★★★★
The Stone Sky: ★★★★ 1/2

4.5 stars

Stone Sky is a fitting closure for the Broken Earth trilogy and one of the most unique fantasies I have yet to read. N.K. Jemisin cemented herself as an auto-read author for me because of her wild imagination and compelling style. I honestly don’t know which book I prefer, it’s a tie between Stone Sky and the Fifth season. I’d give the trilogy a solid 4 stars. The three books feel more like one story rather than three especially since each continues from where the previous one ended.

Jemisin proved herself to be a master at capturing human emotion (and confusing me but that’s for later). She creates multilayered human relationships and complex characters. The relationship between Essun and Nassun is rich and full of love yet Nassun is wary of her mother. The mother who was supposed to love and protect her. She found that in someone else. And of course, little did she know that in her head, Nessun was doing it all for her. Plus, the world-building is like nothing I’ve read before, I really can’t ask for more than that.

But honestly what and probably my favorite thing about this book is how it mirrors the problems we have in our world, only in a fantasy setting. The abuse of natural resources, how humans take and take and take from the earth while hurting the environment, and by now we all know where that’s leading us. The racism the orogenes suffer from, the names they’re called, just for being different. They look the same as anyone. Feel the same things. Only because they’re different in one way, people cast them out. Although they would’ve died without them. Isn’t this just another face of genocide? Not only towards Nessun but also in the history of this world that was revealed in this installment and their people. It’s just horrifying… and not difficult to believe humans are capable of that.

Sadly, I had a few minor issues with this book. I was BR with my friend and we both had similar opinions about it. First, the Hoa history perspective should’ve been introduced in the second book. I think introducing it earlier would’ve helped me connect with the characters we met in his chapters. His story is just as important and deserved more highlights. The very last thought was one of the most memorable scenes I’ve read. Loved it.

My second issue and honestly one I’ve been encountering a lot with the books I’m reading is that I couldn’t live the story with our characters. I was reading about them but I wasn’t invested as emotionally as I would’ve liked reading this book. Well, not even the two previous ones either. It’s the only reason why I didn’t round up my rating to 5 stars instead of 2. I liked them. I liked reading about Nassun, Essun, Hoa, Alabaster, and everyone. Yet I didn’t feel like my heart will burst of love for those characters.

And last but not least, Nessun acted like 12 years olds at least and never 8. Sure, she has gone through a lot more than kids her age but from the beginning, her age didn’t feel authentic. And the magic thing was introduced and I barely understood it.

I think this trilogy is good for book clubs and BRs because there’s a lot to discuss and questions to ask (aka confusion). I was so confused most of the time and didn’t fully understand what they’re saying. I’m not familiar whatsoever with orogeny and its English vocab so that didn’t help either. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this book and reading about its characters. It’s definitely a trilogy I’ll be recommending in the future because the books are short for fantasy (kudos for writing quality fantasy books in less than 420 pages for each installment) and refreshing among similar world settings, with beautiful writing and likable characters.
Profile Image for Lucy Dacus.
91 reviews14.5k followers
December 20, 2021
So grateful for the whole trilogy, I feel like I'm looking at the world differently.

~reminder that goodreads is affiliated with Amazon and that you should buy books local if you can~
Profile Image for Philip.
498 reviews672 followers
September 26, 2017
5ish stars.

This is an incredible series and a huge accomplishment for its author, N.K. Jemisin. It has every element of high quality fiction and, particularly, everything great about SFF. It's decidedly new age, but in a way that I don't doubt will stand the test of time. It's innovative in the way that Ursula K. Le Guin's work was innovative in the '60s and '70s (and continues to be influential today) and, maybe I'm foolish for saying this too soon, but I think it has the same potential to reach classic status.

Admittedly, the first book in the series, The Fifth Season, is my favorite and I actually only rated that 4.5, but the series as a whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. In this book specifically I found the first half to be slow, but once each of the separate storylines coalesced and the big picture came into view, the payoff was worth the journey. The ending wasn't mind-blowingly pulse-pounding but it was fitting and real and it felt right. It made me feel good.

I respect Jemisin's talent immensely. Her prose is fantastic. She's not afraid to make her characters prickly, even unlikable at times and I love them all the more for it. Even the side characters who only make brief appearances are ones who I liked and would love to learn more about. The real greatness of this series is the world Jemisin has created- not only the "magic system," the blend of fantasy and sci-fi, or the diverse factions of characters, but how the nature of the world is primed to provide such deep commentary on so many grand, topical ideas. The way Jemisin addresses those ideas- duty, exploitation, love, humanity, morality, acceptance, xenophobia, motherhood, justice, mercy- is powerful and soulful and she doesn't take any easy ways out. She allows things to play out how they really do play out in human existence, not necessarily the ways we want them or expect them to in the literature we read.

Congratulations to Jemisin for this achievement and congrats to me for getting to experience it!

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,268 followers
April 2, 2022

You know there's something wrong when a major character dies yet it leaves you unmoved.

Having cruised through the preceding serials, I was underwhelmed by this conclusion.

Not helping was the Info-dumping, likewise the glaring plot hole of the Onyx and Garnet Obelisk (read book one again to sess the inconsistency).

Additionally, the author's attempts at bringing some social issues to the fore was heavy handed, which is a shame really since the reader already caught on to these nuances right from the start of the series.

Overall, I didn't dislike how the story ended, I just didn't love it as much as the first two.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,314 followers
November 13, 2020
Well here we are, at the end of maybe the most immense series I’ve ever read. These books are nothing short of extraordinary and I will repeat what I said in my previous reviews: they are a must read for sci-fi and fantasy fans.

The Broken Earth series is the perfect blend of science-fiction and fantasy, with some dystopia thrown in for good measure. Since this the the final book in the trilogy, I’m not goin to put any specific book spoilers in this review, and instead talk about the series in its entirety.

At the center of these books is a story about a changing earth, which has both sharp differences and eerie similarities to our own. The Stillness, as it’s called, is subjected to a fifth season every indeterminate number of years, which unleashes cataclysmic levels of geological devastation onto the dispersed populations. People have organized themselves into Comms, as well as by castes, primarily as means of survival. Due to the unpredictable nature of these seasons, humanity’s growth outside of fulfilling basic needs has been stunted for thousands of years.

Among the humans exist a divergent set of people known as orogenes, who have varying levels of power over the earth itself. If someone is discovered to be an orogene, best case scenario they are sent to a training facility known as the Fulcrum to teach them to use their powers and contribute to society. Worst case they are killed by their communities before the Fulcrum’s Guardians are able to retrieve them.

“When we say that ‘the world has ended,’ remember—it is usually a lie. The planet is just fine.”

The world of Ths Broken Earth series is the way it is primarily because of human actions. The books take a harsh but necessary look at climate change and the human obstacles in the way of correcting previous environmental missteps. A huge stress by N.K. Jemisin is put on the fact that the Earth does not need life in order to exist, but we—life—need to preserve the earth if we plan on surviving ourselves.

But it’s the human elements of this series that are the real heart and soul of these books. Through the races of people on the page, Jemisin creates a stark comparison to how our own human history has subjugated and conquered other groups of people. Dehumanization is at the root of all of it, and is a necessary step in stripping people of their rights, livelihood and autonomy. And the generation trauma will be felt years and years beyond the initial offense, especially if left untreated and unacknowledged. History is written by the winners, and it must be thoroughly interrogated if you’re looking for anything that gives even a passing resemblance to the truth.

“Conquerors live in dread of the day when they are shown to be, not superior, but simply lucky.”

On a more personal level, Jemisin’s characters are filled to the brim with raw and often very painful emotions. They’re grieving and they’re despondent and they’re angry. There are moments of hope and levity, but this is a series that will make you feel things, so be prepared. So much of that hurt is rooted in love. The love of a mother to her children, the love between a child and surrogate parent. The love of a community and of humanity. Even when they all seem to let you down or fail you, that love is still present in the way you decide to keep living for them anyway. The mother/daughter relationship in particular between Nassun and Essun was so wrought and complicated it was hard for me not to start thinking about my relationship with my own mother. These books will really sink their claws into you.

“I think...that if you love someone, you don’t get to choose how they love you back.”

A brief note one complaint I keep hearing—I don’t really understand the people who are bothered by part of the books being written in second person. Maybe they’re just so used to first or third that second just throws them off completely? There’s a reason these portions are told in this way, one that’s relevant to the plot. And even if it was just a rhetorical or stylistic choice, that’s the prerogative of the author, in my opinion. It just feels like a lot of backseat writing to me, and if you get anything from reading this series, it’s that every choice N.K. Jemisin makes is deliberate, considered and probably brilliant.

This isn’t a quick or easy read. Some of the lore is very dense and you’re going to have to deal with unfamiliar terminology and names. But the examination of a complicated humanity, the kind of love that causes pain and what we owe one another & the world we all inhabit is totally worth that commitment for me.

“Don’t be patient. Don’t ever be. This is the way a new world begins.”

Me after finishing the Broken Earth trilogy, contemplating what life’s existence even means.
Profile Image for Hannah.
591 reviews1,051 followers
September 3, 2017
And this is how you end a trilogy.

This book was quite possibly (/definitely) my most anticipated book of the year; N. K. Jemisin has yet to dissappoint me and I just love love love her brand of fantasy. I love how intricate and well thought out her worlds are and how political they are at their core while she still never ever sacrifices her story to make a point. The final installment made me appreciate the overall brilliant work she has done in creating this cruel, wonderful, amazing world even more.

This world and its social structure makes so much sense and feels so real that it made me sad. It is perfectly structured to mirror our own world in miserable ways. I adore this political core and its relevance (). I adore the originality of the stone eaters (and their creation myth in particular) and how their interactions are always just a little bit off to never let the reader forget that they are different.

But even more than the world building I adore the characters. They are what makes this book a true favourite for me: Essun and Nassun are such vividly imagined, flawed, wonderful creations and I adore how their actions and reactions mirror each other while they are still separate and complete characters in their own right. I love how this, at its core, is a story of family, blood and found, about how violence breeds violence, how mistakes can be repeated, how decisions shape our lives.

On thing I realized upon finishing this book is how much I appreciate how N. K. Jemisin frames her stories; I love how the framing makes sense and its originality, and here I especially adore it. The framing device used fits perfectly to the world she has created here and to the way her story unfolds.

So yes, brilliant way to end a brilliant trilogy. I cannot recommend the series enough. I am in love, still. (And heartbroken.)

First sentences: "Time grows short, my love. Let's end with the beginning of the world, shall we? Yes. We shall."
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews715 followers
February 14, 2020
Finished this last night and I felt kind of unsure about it. I really enjoyed the whole series and I couldn't put the books down until I finished so the story telling was really good. Like I said through out I didn't really like any of the parts that were in second person POV and it felt less strong to have that in there, I think it only detracted from the books. Otherwise though I really enjoyed the books, though I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. I really liked the world building and the character development. I think the characters were all complex and multifaceted which is always a plus. I just think I always end up not enjoying endings regardless of whether or not theyre well written or built up to well. I think I only like endings that are sad and painful and this wasn't really like that. I wouldn't say it was even a bad ending per se. I don't think I liked this as much as the second book either and it did feel weaker than it. I think maybe it's something about series that I just like the books in the middle way better usually and the books at the end just feeling lacking in some way comparatively. The series was enjoyable though, would definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews826 followers
November 15, 2017
If you had the power to end the world, would you do it? Looking around, seeing the structural injustice, the corrupted power, contentment of the few and misery of the millions, would you just decide to erase or would you devote your life and try to fix it? Is humanity worth saving or is it beyond redemption?

As we conclude our journey through the Broken Earth, this is the main question N.K. Jemisin invites us to ponder over. Would you side with Essun, who warped and broken, reborn under different names but still with the same damaged legacy, stubbornly believes that the better world is possible? Or would you rather concur with her daughter, Nassun, that as a monster of a never-ending apocalypse, she has only one option.

“Some worlds are built on a fault line of pain, held up by nightmares. Don’t lament when those worlds fall. Rage that they were built doomed in the first place.”


“Burn for me, says Father Earth.”

Essun is on the road with the survivors of Castrima comm and traverses the dying but still deadly, ashen landscape of Stillnes. After the destruction of geode, they need to reach Rennais in order to survive. The use of Obelisk Gate has taken its toll on her, but more importantly, if she truly wishes to save Nassun from the same fate she suffers, she needs to grapple with her Fulcrum-malformed sense of identity. Nassun leaves Found Moon behind, but as she embarks on the final journey, she also has to consider whether the sense of humanity is innate and hereditary like orogeny. Whether it can be cast away. Or cast in stone.

This is the second question placed at the very fulcrum of Stone Sky - who is humanity? Who and on what grounds merit the ‘personhood’ categorisation. Is it the race? Skin colour? Or is it your genetic code that matters? When reading Stone Sky I kept thinking that we would have just aborted all the orogene babies (just like we are aborting babies with Down syndrome). Our grand civilisation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is very good at deciding who is and who isn’t worthy to be called and considered a human being. Also, excels in genocides without bodies (“But breathing doesn’t always mean living, and maybe… maybe genocide doesn’t always leave bodies.”). After all, people who live in the glass house shouldn’t throw stones. Even at the sky.

“There’s nothing we did to provoke their fear, other than exist. There’s nothing we can do to earn their approval, except stop existing – so we can either die like they want, or laugh at their cowardice and go on with our lives.”

One of the most poignant scenes is the conversation between Ykka, the leader of Castrima, and Essun and then later between Essun and her former fellow from Fulcrum, Maxixe. Ykka says: “Unbelievable. You think I'm pissed about the geode, don't you?” Ms Jemisin shows the two universes of perception, one geared towards survival, the other being an attempt to have life. Real life. As a prerogative of every human person (survival is for animals, isn't it?). "You didn't think about any of us while you were using those obelisks, did you? You thought about destroying your enemies. You thought about surviving - but you couldn't get beyond that.” And then Maxixe concludes: “We don’t have to be what they made us”, i.e. the monsters people imagined orogens to be.

The Stone Sky can be read on many different levels: as a political manifesto, as a philosophical treaty, as a sociological study or on a psychological level as a mother-daughter story. It is also one of the greatest tales in modern fantasy/sci-fi told with an awe-inspiring boldness, it takes the genre to another level and redefines it. It spans thousands of years, encompasses different cultures, races, civilisations, and forms of existence. It is deep but it is also immediate, it is universal but touches on the very particulars of every soul. I am simply stoned by Jemisin’s talent to my very core.

It is not the question whether you should read this series - it is rather the question of how soon you can do it. The answer is - the sooner, the better. I will need a couple of days to calm down. Or months. Or seasons.

(might also try to eat some stones for breakfast)


My review of The Fifth Season
My review of The Obelisk Gate.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,202 followers
June 4, 2020
The Stone Sky left me shook.

I had so many mixed feelings after finishing it (…in 2017. I’ll explain). On one hand, there had been a lot of buildup in the previous two books and I wasn’t totally convinced I liked the direction the story headed for about the first 75%. I was worried it wasn’t going to live up to my incredibly high expectations. And then some of the most truly profound scenes played out and I can still feel the emotional reverberation every time I think about it even years later. This trilogy is brilliant.

I held off on writing a review for two reasons: 1. When I finished it, my feed was filled with countless solid 5-star reviews and I didn’t feel strongly enough about my criticisms to become a rallying counterpoint to all of that positivity (and didn’t really want to because of how special the series had been for me overall). And 2. It left me so confused that I didn’t know how to express my slight disappointment at the direction but at the same time emphasize the 10+ star scenes that still kind of haunt me to this day. Do I dock my rating for what I didn’t like? Or keep it a solid 5 because the amazing parts were strong enough to overpower everything else? I think with time and perspective, I can finally land on 4 as a rating for this specific book with the disclaimer that the series still feels like a solid 5-stars as a whole. There are so many things I loved about it, but my favorite element by far is the basis for why parts of the books are written with different POV styles (specifically the controversial second-person present-tense passages). It’s brilliant. Or did I say that already?

Ultimately, even though the story didn’t go along with any of my theories, it still shattered me. It’s also my emphatic, quintessential recommendation whenever someone mentions “unique” or “cool writing styles” or “unconventional.” It’s truly a masterpiece. My only recommendation: experience it for yourself.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other books you might like*:
The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga, #1) by Kameron Hurley The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1) by James Islington Child of a Mad God (Coven, #1) by R.A. Salvatore The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie
*None of the recommendations really fit except for maybe Mirror Empire, so I tried to pick books that had elements that reminded me of this series. The Broken Earth Trilogy just stands too strongly on its own so far.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,607 reviews1,481 followers
December 30, 2017
Sale Alert 30Dec17 Kindle Daily Deal for $4.99 . This was one of the best series I read in 2017 and it is on sale today here

If you didn’t give this series a go because it is listed as Sci-Fi, don’t let that deter you. This is probably one of the best completed Sci-Fi fantasy series I’ve read in a while.


As the third book in a very strong and genuinely unique series I had a lot of expectations going into the final book. There were so many things I wanted to know and the story had been so strong that I was worried it couldn’t finish out just as strongly. I have no idea now why I was so worried because N.K. Jemisin delivered up to the very last page.
“I think,” Hoa says slowly, “that if you love someone, you don’t get to choose how they love you back.”

I’m going to give N.K. Jemisin some huge props for the way she tells this story. It is told from the perspective of three different people but it is told by a single individual. It sounds so much more complicated than it is and in the context of the story it makes perfect sense.

There were certain things that I really wanted from this story.

① - I wanted to know so much more about the Stone Eaters. Who they are? How they came/come into being? Why they are fighting a war? What does the second faction want? I got answers to all of these questions any more. It was amazing to learn the history of the Stone Eaters and Hoa specifically. His story had so many true surprises and the world building around his story was really phenomenal.
I’m tired, and overwhelmed, and perhaps a little angry. This day has upended my sense of self. I’ve spent my whole life knowing I was a tool, yes; not a person, but at least a symbol of power and brilliance and pride. Now I know I’m really just a symbol of paranoia and greed and hate. It’s a lot to deal with.

② - I wanted a satisfying ending. Let’s not confuse that with a perfect ending or a happily ever after ending. This is the end of the world we are talking about so I went in knowing that not everyone will make it to the other side of the book alive. I also know that there will be some painful moments that will possibly crush all of my feelings. I can handle all of those things if a story is told well and it isn’t just thrown in for shock value. I have read quite a few books lately that leave the end with an unfinished feeling to them and it really isn’t my favorite thing.

For me, the ending was very satisfying. When all of the stuff happens near the end I understood all of the sides and the emotions and why the characters made the choices they made even if it was painful to watch them make those horrible choices. I loved how Essun wanted so desperately to be able to be the mother Nassun needed. I loved that Nassun found someone to love like a father since her father couldn’t find a way to love all of her. I loved how Hoa was there for Essun through her entire journey with the patience and strength of a Mountain. Hoa’s understanding of humans and the choices they make is definitely born of someone who has lived millennia.
(She is such a good child, at her core. Don’t be angry with her. She can only make choices within the limited set of her experiences, and it isn’t her fault that so many of those experiences have been terrible. Marvel, instead, at how easily she loves, how thoroughly. Love enough to change the world! She learned how to love like this from somewhere.)

③ - I wanted Essun and Nassun to meet. They did and they are different people than they were the 2 years before. It was very emotional. That is all I can really say about that without spoiling something big.


④ - I wanted to know what happened to Alabaster. I had a few ideas that were totally confirmed in this. I feel good knowing more about why Antimony ate him and why Hoa is going to eat Essun.
“This isn’t what you think of it,” Hoa says, and for an instant you worry that he can read your mind. More likely it’s just the fact that he’s as old as the literal hills, and he can read your face. “You see what was lost in us, but we gained, too. This is not the ugly thing it seems.”
It seems like he��s going to eat your arm. You’re okay with it, but you want to understand. “What is it, then? Why …” You shake your head, unsure of even what question to ask. Maybe why doesn’t matter. Maybe you can’t understand. Maybe this isn’t meant for you.

⑤ - I wanted to know more about Father Earth. We get this too and more than I really expected. The origin story of the seasons and how the moon was lost explained so much. Once upon a time the saying was evil death and not evil earth. Oh but the new saying is fitting for so many reasons and I understood completely why Alabaster would want to be given to Antimony and never buried in the earth.
So where they should have seen a living being, they saw only another thing to exploit. Where they should have asked, or left alone, they raped. For some crimes, there is no fitting justice—only reparation.

There are really so many great things about this story. It was innovative and had some extremely cool ideas and cultures in it. It is a bit unique. The heroine is a woman in her forties with children and I really appreciate that as someone not in their twenties anymore. Just because you get older doesn’t mean that all the interesting stuff happens to other people. I keep forgetting to mention that most of the characters are brown and black. I’m not one to pay super close attention to all of the character descriptions but it is really strange to read a book where there are not any blond/blue eyed characters and that most of the descriptions of hair are ash blown and bottlebrush. The narrator is a character in the book and speaks in the voice of two other characters in the book if you read The Book Thief then you will have an idea of how that works.

This was a truly wonderfully written series from beginning to end and I’m so glad that I didn’t know it was classified as Sci-Fi when I started or else it would have probably passed me by. I much prefer to think of this as dystopianesk fantasy since fantasy is my comfort zone.

Audio Note: Robin Miles has done a fantastic job performing the entire series. It is one of my favorite audio presentations this year so far.
Profile Image for Thomas Wagner.
139 reviews908 followers
August 25, 2017
Now this is how you end a trilogy.

N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy has been about so many things. But I suppose the only way to talk about how brilliantly it climaxes, without robbing you of the pleasure of experiencing it yourself, is to say simply that Jemisin not only delivers but overdelivers on reader expectations. And she does it in a way that might make you appreciate how rarely series fiction manages to satisfy so well when it comes time for the final curtain. While I don’t believe that stories necessarily have to tie up all loose ends or answer every unanswered question to be satisfying, The Stone Sky manages to stick a very tricky and almost perfect landing, resolving the trilogy’s key conflicts, clarifying most of its mysteries, and outperforming on a level of sheer emotional and visceral punch whatever you might have been anticipating from its finale.

This is the work of a writer in complete command of her craft. It’s the story of a mother and a daughter (continued)
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,328 followers
November 19, 2020
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

“I think,” Hoa says slowly, “that if you love someone, you don’t get to choose how they love you back.”

I was actually not very excited when I got into this one after the disappointment of book 2. I am usually a fast reader but I decided to slow down a bit with this one, take my time and try to enjoy it as much as I can. I was on the verge of a slump when I started this book and I was really worried that this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It wasn’t!! I actually enjoyed what I was reading, specially at the beginning, I tried to make sure that I understood what happened till where I stopped reading and although it enhanced my experience, I don’t think I ended up loving this series as much as I thought I would.

For a series that won the Hugo award 3 times, I expected my mind to be blown but I can’t say that it was. Book 1 was excellent and it was my favorite in the series and it was hard to come up with something as great just for the lone reason of how brilliant the narrative was in that one. I think Jemisin’s writing is not easy, I really need to focus to understand what is going on. I think it is not necessarily a bad thing as I have seen many readers falling in love with the prose but I don’t think I was the biggest fan.

Essun and Nassun are certainly characters that I will remember because they were so well-written! I actually thought the third POV in this book was not as good and was actually boring and confusing which impacted my enjoyment and rating of the book. I have seen reviews after finishing the series and it looks like I am not the only one who had this feeling which makes me feel less bad!

“How can we prepare for the future if we won’t acknowledge the past?”

The mix of fantasy/ sci-fi and dystopia is not something I was a very big fan of. I can say the magic system was cool but it was not complex and awesome as I thought it would be. I prefer hrad magic systems with rule and stuff and I thought the system here was more of a scientific rather than a fantasy one.

Summary: For more than one reason, I think it is me not the books problem. I found this book well written, although challenging to read! With 2 out 3 interesting POVs and a cool magic system. The way the book and series was wrapped was not at all and that is another good thing about the series, I am finishing with a quote form the book itself:

“To those who’ve survived: Breathe. That’s it. Once more. Good. You’re good. Even if you’re not, you’re alive. That is a victory.”
Profile Image for HaMiT.
166 reviews31 followers
June 7, 2021
my last two brain cells after I finished this book

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برای جلد اول یه معرفی نوشته بودم و الان که تریلوژی تموم شد، بهتره یه چیزایی رو توضیح بدم

به صورت کلی این از اون مجموعه‌ها نیست که بعد از دویست یا سیصد صفحه یه پیچش داستانی خفن داشته باشه و شما با بُهت و حیرت به صفحه‌ی کتاب خیره شید. اصلا با همچین توقعی سراغش نیاید. در واقع نویسنده قصد نداره آدمو به چالش بکشه که آره اگه می‌تونی پایان داستانمو حدس بزن چون کلی سرنخ در مورد پایان به آدم می‌ده و قابل پیش‌بینیه. صرفاً قصد داره روند اتفاقات رو توضیح بده و خودش هم یه تیکه این قضیه رو راحت می‌گه و ابایی هم از بیانش نداره

آخر قصه معلوم است، نیست؟ اگر این‌طور نمی‌شد، چطور امکان داشت اینجا نشسته باشی و به این قصه گوش کنی؟ گاهی چگونگی یک اتفاق خیلی مهم‌تر از سرانجامش است

مورد دیگه اینکه اگه یه داستان سرعت بالا میخواین که نویسنده یه سری اتفاق رو تند تند براتون بگه بازم این به دردتون نمی‌خوره
هیجان انگیز بودن برای نویسنده ارجحیت نداشته. در عوض می‌خواد آدم رو درگیر عواطف انسانی شخصیت‌ها، رفتارشون توی شرایط مختلف و پیچیدگی‌ روابطشون کنه و به همین خاطر شخصیت‌پردازی فوق‌العاده از کار در اومده
شخصیت‌هایی که انواع و اقسام موقعیت‌های دردناک رو تجربه می‌کنن و یه سایه‌ی غم و سیاهی همیشه بالای سرشونه. در نتیجه روایت سریع به درد همچین کاری نمی‌خوره
و هم زمان با توصیف وضعیت شخصیت‌ها، کتاب فضای رازآلود و معماگونه‌ی خودش رو حفظ می‌کنه و آدم رو در طول مسیر کنجکاو نگه می‌داره ولی آروم آروم و با حوصله گره‌های داستانش رو براتون باز می‌کنه
به شخصه این نوع کشش داستانی برام خیلی جذاب‌تر از یه روایت ساده و سریعه

دسته‌ی بعدی افرادی که این مجموعه به دردشون نمی‌خوره اون‌هایی هستن که می‌خوان نویسنده همه‌چی رو جوری توضیح بده که راحت بفهمن چه اتفاقی داره میفته. نوپ اصلا چنین چیزی اینجا گیرتون نمیاد. در واقع باید با نفهمیدن و گیج شدن اوکی باشید. اینطوری هم نیست که نویسنده بد توضیح بده
بالا نوشتم قصد نداره در مورد حدس زدن پایان داستان به چالش بکشه آدمو. خب.. توی این بخش حسابـــــــــــــــــــی از خجالت ذهنتون درمیاد :)

این یه داستانِ سای‌فایِ فانتزیِ آخرالزمانیه (بیشتر سای‌فای) و برای من که همیشه یه علاقه‌ی دنبال‌نشده‌ای به زمین‌شناسی هم داشتم تبدیل شد به یکی از بهترین تجربه‌های کتاب‌خونیم
حتماً توصیه می‌کنم بین خوندن هر کتاب فاصله‌ی زیادی نندازین چون هر جلد پر از نکته‌های ریز و درشته که ممکنه فراموش کنید و نگاه به حجم نسبتاً کم هر جلد نکنید
کاملاً هم برای بزرگسال نوشته شده پس سعی کنید به وقت مناسب سراغش بیاید

متاسفانه با وجود ترجمه‌ی خوب، ویراستاری توی جلد سوم فاجعه‌باره و پر از کلمات بهم چسبیده‌اس
جلدهای اول و دوم اوکی بودن
Profile Image for Andrea Belfiori.
125 reviews969 followers
February 5, 2021
Quando mi riprenderò da questo libro (e da questa serie) scriverò una recensione con un senso logico.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,102 reviews2,953 followers
June 9, 2019
I have made it through the Broken Earth trilogy. What a relief! For the past three months I was on the verge of DNFing the last book (because I simply couldn't bother with it anymore) but I am happy now that I stuck with it. The Stone Sky did a great job at tying the loose ends together and giving the series a well-rounded ending. A lot of things finally clicked into place and started to make sense for me in this last instalment. And whilst I am somewhat bitter that it took over two books to get to the good parts, I am relieved that we got good parts at all.

I don't think it comes as a great surprise to anyone when I say that I am not a fan of the Broken Earth trilogy (and probably never will be, since I won't be rereading these books...), nonetheless, I think it is worth checking out since it explores important themes such as systematic oppression and decolonisation in a realistic way. As a woman of color, N.K. Jemisin has a lot to bring to the table of the genre of fantasy/sci-fi; a genre that is more often than not explored through a white and male lens.

N.K. Jemisin's "Stillness" is a place constantly wracked by geological cataclysms. Every few hundred years an event is severe enough to touch off a global volcanic winter, referred to as a "Fifth Season". Orogenes have the ability to manipulate geological energies on a large scale, as well as magic on a smaller scale. They are a persecuted and feared minority, though it is largely due to their efforts humanity has survived the Seasons at all. The plight of the orogones in Jemisin's world can easily be applied to minority groups who suffer systematic oppression in our day and age (...and our past, as well), in particular the fate of African slaves who were shipped to the North American continent and the offspring they sired. It is not by chance that the slur "Rogga" (used to refer to orogenes in the Stillness) evokes the n-word of our day and age.

Whilst I appreciate this trilogy for the heavy political and social commentary that is interwoven in it, I often had the feeling that Jemisin underestimated the intelligence of her readers. The analogies were always so on the nose and then still explained in full detail. It was all a little too bland and unoriginally put for me. I like social and political commentary that is subtle and makes me reflect on a problem of our day and age in a way that I have never done before. On that front, the Broken Earth trilogy didn't have much to offer. I can imagine that people who usually don't engage with the work of Black writers might find many new and highly engaging themes in Jemisin's work, I did not.

As for the story itself, I have to admit that I was more confused than anything. I found it very hard to navigate through Jemisin's work. I could never picture any of the characters, places or happenings. And whilst Jemisin tried to explain the structure of her world (and the "magic" system), she failed in my opinion. At one point in The Stone Sky, she writes: "She can’t explain it. Lines of force, lines of sight, mathematical configurations; all of the knowledge that she needs is in her mind, but cannot be reproduced by her tongue." The frustration her characters feel at not understanding the magic at hand, was mirrored by me as a reader. And I bet that almost no one who has read the series could explain how orogeny works in full detail.

Moreover, the narration in the series was totally not for me. Whilst I have explored many writers this year who excel at writing in second person (Gloria Naylor being one of them), Jemisin doesn't rank amongst them. I was happy to see that The Stone Sky featured three different storylines and only one of them was told in second person. Naturally, that was the one I loathed the most. Whenever one of Essun's chapters came around, I wanted to put the book aside. These chapters really sucked the joy out of the overall reading experience since they were tiresome to read. At the end of the first book the main narrator of the series is revealed and whilst his role and his intention for narrating this story is made somewhat plausible in the grand finale, I am still not really sold on the fact that his voice (and second person narration) was really needed for the series, let alone did it any good.

In general, Jemisin's writing felt somewhat clunky to me. She often resorted to silly means such as USING ALL CAPS AND ITALICS and even went as far as to underline and use bold characters to add emphasis to her writing. Nope, that is 'telling' rather than 'showing' in its purest (and silliest) form. If the writing itself cannot make clear that something important or extraordinary is happening, boldface sure as hell won't convince MEEEEEEE!!!!! (Sorry for being so salty but the overuse of exclamation marks was another grievance I had with her writing!)

Nonetheless, The Stone Sky definitely had its funny moments and two characters in particular made me grow fond of them over the course of the book. I was somewhat taken aback by the amount of cheesy and over-the-top moments in the last instalment, since the former two distinguished themselves by being overly realistic and frigid, but somehow these moments helped me to shape and categorise the characters more easily. I enjoyed how Jemisin explored the theme of motherhood (and fatherhood) in the series and to which lengths parents go to protect their children.

Would I judge the overall series on enjoyment alone I would give it a 2 star rating, and couldn't recommend it with a clear conscience. For that it was way too clumsy and non-engaging. It's sad to say but I know for sure that I will forget most of it by the end of the year. The Stillness as a place and the characters it inhabits just aren't memorable at all. But taking the cultural significance of this series in mind, I can definitely bring myself to a solid 3 star rating. The series is definitely not flawless in its exploration of timely themes, nonetheless it is more than needed to establish POC as a given in sci-fi/dystopian/end-of-the-world settings, and Jemisin contributed to that in a bold way which I want to acknowledge and cherish.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
September 14, 2017
1. Malazan Book of the Fallen
2. Stormlight Archives
3. Manifest Delusions
4. Long Price Quartet
5. Broken Earth

Needless to say cracking my top 5 series of all-time list every book in this series was a full five stars. The top two are set in stone but the next three are all pretty close and yet so distinctly different in concept.

This story hit home for me on so many levels. First it’s an epic story transitioning over 40,000 years. The back story given to us in a trickle is brilliantly dispatched both in conceptual content and empathetic delivery. The cause and effect of humanities choices and their battle with the earth is so symbolic of some of today’s current issues. This book took on a lot of social issues.

The stories of slavery both in the traditional sense and also to the capitalist ghosts in the machine as well were well delivered. Using the name Briar Patch and it’s connotations in conjunction with an almost Matrix like theme of sucking the life and magic out of people also resonated with me.

The magic system was so unique and thought out but what really made it for me was you could feel the magic. That’s the difference between a fair to good story about magic and an epic one. What is the character feeling both physical and emotionally. NKJ puts you in the midst of that swirling silvery magic and you truly experience it. Simply brilliant.

Last but not least what made this story epic for me and it’s the theme in all my top books/series the author had empathy bleeding out of the characters. You felt their pain. Experienced their grief. The sadness permeated from the pages. And yet you also experienced their hopes and dreams even when things were so dark they should be all but snuffed out.

The climax of this book was cannot put it down, just have to get to the last page to see how this turns out reading. So many complicated story lines coming together. There were 4 big reveals during the books. Who were the different characters perspectives in relation to each other and the master narrator being the crux. All were brilliantly delivered. I figured them all out in advance but was still thrilled with how clever the breadcrumbs were leading to their discovery.

This series blends GrimDark, Sci-fi and dystopian genres. If you’re a fan of any I would highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews185 followers
November 18, 2017
In my review for The Obelisk Gate, I wrote that it felt more like the first half of a novel, so I am not surprised that The Stone Sky feels like the second half of that novel. I think I might have preferred if Jemisin had simply released these last to books as a single volume, so I didn’t feel so much like I had to wait a year to read the rest of a book. Some of The Stone Sky feels padded, and in particular the chapters that deal with the origin of the stone eaters could have been saved for a companion novella. Ultimately though, Essun’s journey as a broken woman in a broken world is one of the most compelling in all of fantasy literature, and the conclusion to that journey – where she makes her final stand to repair both the woman and the world – is magnificent.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,219 reviews2,052 followers
January 8, 2020
A truly perfect concluding book to this excellent series. I thought all three books deserved five stars which is pretty unusual in a trilogy.

Jemisin is an excellent writer. Her prose is good, her imagination is amazing and she expects a lot from her readers. No letting your mind wander while reading her books - one moment of inattention and you can miss a vital piece of information which will leave you totally confused chapters later. She also writes excellent characters who you care about and want to see happy and surviving. Not many achieve this but never mind!

The ending is a major highlight and stays true to the whole series. The meeting between Essun and Nassun is fantastic and then the final paragraphs just left me with my head spinning. I actually went straight back to the beginning and reread the first parts to make sure I had drawn all the right conclusions. I had and it was beautiful.

Loved it all and I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a more serious, thoughtful fantasy.
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