THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. AGAIN.
Three terrible things happen in a single day.
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Firstly, I can’t believe how long it took me to finally get around to reading this series! It’s been on my TBR list for ages and I decided back in April last year that it was going to be my Bingo pick for the “Dying Earth” square and I just kept getting distracted. I’m so glad I finally read it though as it’s incredible.
The worldbuilding is fantastic, we get small snippets of information at the end of each chapter that I always love as they give us small glimpses of the world and its history. The first book is told through three POVs and rotates between them. There is Essun, the mother who is desperate to save her daughter, Syenite the Orogene who is to learn from a new mentor and Damaya a student studying at the Fulcrum which is where Orogenes are trained. Through each of their POVs you are able to get a glimpse at the world that the novel is set in. The three POVs also take place at different moments in history with Essun’s story being in the present day while the other two give you background information as to how the world ended up in this state.
The magic system, that of orogenes, is something that I really enjoy. I love interesting magic systems and although we don’t really find out too much about how it actually works it’s still fascinating and the parts that involve the use of orogeny are of particular interest to me.
Characterwise, the fact that Essun is a mother is something I really enjoyed. It’s rare to have a mother as the main character in a Fantasy novel and so that was a nice refreshing change. All of the characters are really well developed and their relationships with each other are brilliant. Several of the characters are also queer and have romances throughout the trilogy (I’m saying trilogy here as I can’t remember when some of them start, but there’s definitely at least one in the first book)
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and indeed I absolutely devoured the next two to complete the trilogy as I just couldn’t put it down. I would highly recommend this to any Fantasy fan, and to those doing Bingo it’s a perfect choice for the “Dying Earth” square. It’s also a great pick for anybody trying to read books by Black Authors for Black History Month and just an amazing book in general.