THE STONE SKY

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 3

Jemisin concludes her Broken Earth trilogy (The Obelisk Gate, 2016, etc.), about a vengeful Earth whose tectonic instability can be controlled by the despised and feared orogenes.

Slowly turning to stone as a result of her contact with the Obelisk Gate, Essun nevertheless must repeat that contact to magically grab the long-lost Moon, assuaging the anger of the Earth and ending the devastating Seasons that rock the planet. Meanwhile, her estranged daughter, Nassun, has her own plan to take the Gate for herself and use it to destroy the humans who have responded viciously to the earth shaking and earth-quelling powers of her orogene brethren. Threaded throughout is the story of the stone eater Hoa, who explains his origins from several millennia earlier and how his own struggle to gain his freedom led to the Earth losing the Moon in the first place. Jemisin continues to break the heart with her sensitive, cleareyed depictions of a beyond-dysfunctional family and the extraordinarily destructive force that is prejudice. She wrestles with moral issues at an extreme level: obviously, the cruel discipline and mutilation that orogenes are subjected to violate all standards of decency, and not only is it evil, it’s simply the height of idiocy to exterminate the only people capable of calming a constantly tumultuous landscape. But how does one compassionately instill the appropriate discipline in a child who can also casually and inadvertently destroy a village? Can love survive such training? Jemisin deliberately refuses to provide easy answers: they’re simply not available, in this world or ours.

Painful and powerful.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-22924-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and...

DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

GIDEON THE NINTH

From the Locked Tomb Trilogy series , Vol. 1

This debut novel, the first of a projected trilogy, blends science fiction, fantasy, gothic chiller, and classic house-party mystery.

Gideon Nav, a foundling of mysterious antecedents, was not so much adopted as indentured by the Ninth House, a nearly extinct noble necromantic house. Trained to fight, she wants nothing more than to leave the place where everyone despises her and join the Cohort, the imperial military. But after her most recent escape attempt fails, she finally gets the opportunity to depart the planet. The heir and secret ruler of the Ninth House, the ruthless and prodigiously talented bone adept Harrowhark Nonagesimus, chooses Gideon to serve her as cavalier primary, a sworn bodyguard and aide de camp, when the undying Emperor summons Harrow to compete for a position as a Lyctor, an elite, near-immortal adviser. The decaying Canaan House on the planet of the absent Emperor holds dark secrets and deadly puzzles as well as a cheerfully enigmatic priest who provides only scant details about the nature of the competition...and at least one person dedicated to brutally slaughtering the competitors. Unsure of how to mix with the necromancers and cavaliers from the other Houses, Gideon must decide whom among them she can trust—and her doubts include her own necromancer, Harrow, whom she’s loathed since childhood. This intriguing genre stew works surprisingly well. The limited locations and narrow focus mean that the author doesn’t really have to explain how people not directly attached to a necromantic House or the military actually conduct daily life in the Empire; hopefully future installments will open up the author’s creative universe a bit more. The most interesting aspect of the novel turns out to be the prickly but intimate relationship between Gideon and Harrow, bound together by what appears at first to be simple hatred. But the challenges of Canaan House expose other layers, beginning with a peculiar but compelling mutual loyalty and continuing on to other, more complex feelings, ties, and shared fraught experiences.

Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31319-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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