Bingo Square: Award Winner
It’s kind of convenient when every novel in a trilogy is an award winner since it means I can keep reading the series and fill multiple squares without taking a break from Bingo!
There are going to be a quite a few big spoilers for the first novel in this one since it would be a bit difficult to discuss this one too much without revealing some major plots point, and twists and turns from the earlier novel.
So you know, turn away now.
About halfway through the last novel (or more), Jemisin started laying the more obvious clues that the three narrator perspectives were in fact one woman’s life at different stages. Maybe others picked it up earlier than me but she gave enough clues where it wasn’t a surprise when it was finally spelled out but it also wasn’t obvious from the beginning. Jemisin also reveals that there is an actual character, Hoa the stone eater who has attached himself to Essun, behind the narration which makes the second person narrative much easier to digest because this means Hoa is telling Essun her story for some reason yet to be revealed. Much less annoying than some omniscient narrator wanting the reader to imagine themselves in the story.
By the end of the last novel, it became clear that Essun’s world isn’t some fantastical invented world – it is some version of Earth far in the future, an Earth without a moon. Alabaster may have destroyed the world but it is simply the first step in his plan to save the world, and this second step requires Essun, the only one he knows powerful enough to call an obelisk. To accomplish her task, she will need to call them all and create a gate.
As Alabaster is slowly dying and trying to train Essun, their small community already has to find solutions for the types of challenges caused by the Season. In addition to natural resource issues, there is an outside threat, and Essun slowly starts to learn about the different factions with bigger end games. Some want Alabaster’s plan to succeed, others want to take an entirely different approach to end seasons and the war Earth has been waging on humans.
The novel is mostly focused on Essun and her daughter Nassun. The reader finally finds out what happened to Nassun. Her father had a specific direction in mind when he left with her. He has heard rumors of a community near Antarctic where orogenes can be cured. Nassun wants to please her father but it doesn’t take her long to realize she enjoys the training. She specifically bonds with one of the three Guardians running the community, though she also soon realizes there is something not quite normal about these Guardians (and they are already kind of a weird group). Her mentor is someone the reader will recognize since it is the same Guardian that initially picked up Essun and took her to the Fulcrum for training. However, after his near death experience when facing Essun in the previous novel, he has succumbed to a different force. It is not entirely clear what the end goal of the new training area is but it is interested in the other skills that orogenes have, skills that Fulcrum training helped repress.
Essun is also attempting to explore this other side of orogeny to master obelisks but struggles more than her daughter to grasp the silver threads or magic that go beyond the kinetics of Fulcrum taught orogeny.
While quite a lot gets explained and introduced in this novel, it still was a middle book. It was a very good middle book, and while it helped answer a lot of the questions left from the first book, it is also very much setting up for the finale of the third book and serving as the bridge novel. I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the previous one but I think that may be more because I don’t enjoy Nassun as much as I enjoyed the three iterations of Essun. And honestly, Essun can be a difficult character – she often thinks she is right, she can be rigid and, while she has great control of herself in general, she has also made some very destructive choices. Perhaps it is because she usually keeps such control of herself that whenever it even slightly slips, she is basically a powder keg that goes for the nuclear option.
Bingo Square: Award Winner
Bingo 3. Row 5 (Cannonballer Says, This is the End, Award Winner, Birthday, So Shiny)