This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
This is so good I don’t even know where to start with my review.
It’s a fantasy story but set in such a unique world that it’s different to anything I’ve read before. There’s a sort of magic system but the magic here is that people gifted with it can control the earth and command or dissipate earthquakes at will. It’s a magic that is desperately needed on an unstable earth which destroys everything with extinction-level natural disasters every century but those that have it are hated and feared and strictly controlled.
It’s a tale of three women surviving in this world of oppression and instability, three stories that intertwine and make sense of the world as they are told alongside each other.
The story is intelligent and thoughtful and it has a lot to say but it’s done in a way that is entertaining, not preachy.
I have to admit that I felt a bit lost at first because it just dumped me into what felt like (and really is) the middle of a story. It sorts itself out by the end but there was a fair bit of having no clue what was going on before it did. Normally that would leave me cold and wanting to put the book down but I found the story interesting enough that it was addictive reading anyway. I had to know what happened next and where things were going.
I’ve not read anything this good and this unique in a while, if you like fantasy even a little bit then pick this one up, I doubt you’ll regret it!