NK Jemisin’s stunning The Broken Earth trilogy comes to a close with The Stone Sky, as the paths of Essun and her daughter Nassun finally converge. The former, now a ten-ring orogene with incredible power and a stone arm, is hoping to bring the moon back into orbit in a bid to placate the planet and put an end to the apocalyptic seasons. The latter, having killed her father, is preparing to destroy the planet once and for all.
While the first novel took place on the road and the second brought its two lead characters into comms, this picks up in the aftermath of the destruction of the new homes they thought they might have found and takes Essun and Nassun across deserts, through jungles, and deep into the earth. The world’s history remains vast and complex, but answers finally emerge about what came before, what must be done, and the truth about the stone eaters.
If all this is sounding a little inaccessible for newcomers, that’s a fair assessment (but why would you start at the end of a trilogy?) For readers who’ve travelled this far with Essun and Nassun, this is an epic and deeply emotional journey that deals with the rage and heartbreak that come with loss, while emphasising the need for connection, forgiveness and understanding. It’s also keenly political, as the teenage Nassun struggles to imagine a world where the orogenes will ever be anything other than feared and hated “roggas,” and stone eater Hoa reveals the shocking history of the creation of his kind.
Throughout this trilogy, Jemisin has been able to balance the enormous scope of a global catastrophe, the intricate detail of a fantasy world with its rules and social strata, and the emotional pull of a mother hunting for her missing daughter. Epic but profoundly human, this is a wonderful end to a superb story.