My rating: 5 of 5 stars
BEWARE: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Amazing and complex and deeply moving. There is so much going on In this book that it's almost too hard to review it.
Finally, a book where a woman is "the chosen one," the unknown who might be able to save the world by destroying it. And she is a complicated woman, who has lived through unspeakable things like torture, reeducation, becoming a slave not in name but in treatment. Her body is not her own, her life is not her own, her future is not her own. Somehow, she manages to escape time and again, to carve out little pockets of freedom and love. Of course, those moments of happiness always end in almost more anguish and heartbreak than one can bear. Is she could have destroyed herself, she would.
There's a lot I still don't understand, and obviously this book needs the rest of its trilogy to provide answers and satisfaction. Normally that would bother me, but so much of substance happens in this book, that I can't imagine it containing more depths in itself. I'm still not sure what the relationship between the Orogenes and the obelisks is, or the relationship between the orogenes and the stone eaters. Obviously, Hoa has claimed Essun as his own (and fought off others for this privilege), just as Antimony has claimed Alabaster. At first, it seemed like this was a beneficial arrangement for the orogene in question - Antimony is the one who saved them from destruction at Allia - but now seeing him turned mostly to stone, and subsequently literally eaten away, I'm starting to wonder.
Also, I'm really pissed at Alabaster telling Syen that he'll never forgive her for killing Coru, because he TOLD her to do it, he would have done it himself, and she saved him from a miserable life of torture. Also, I'm pretty sure she was trying to kill herself, too, but was somehow protected by the obelisk, so really, she's living a lifetime of self-torture. So back off. Whatever Alabaster wants her to do with the moon, it still feels more important that she track down Jija and find Nassun, because any one who would kill his 3 year old son but abduct his 10 year old daughter instead of killing her... it creeps me out makes me suspicious. Find that girl!
I have to mention, too, I was really wary of a book that forces sexual slavery on people in the name of procreation, and if it had come from any other writer, I probably would have stopped reading right then. I decided to trust the author, though, and I'm glad I did. It's pretty clear that every decent person considers that system abhorrent, and the loving relationship we see most is between a bisexual man, his female partner, and his male partner, who live together with their child as a happy, whole family. There is also a transgender character, and others whose genders aren't clarified. Overall, the gender and sexuality expressed in this book is inclusive and normalizing, which is definitely encouraging and uplifting to read.
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