THE STONE SKY
Jemisin has been a talented, confident storyteller from her very first novel, and the first two parts of the Broken Earth series were absolutely excellent, but in this conclusion she puts on a real tour de force: without ever breaking the fourth wall or being directly didactic, she takes the implicit parallels the series has built with our own world and breaks them wide open, the result being a thrilling story with real stakes and painfully real characters grappling with some of the biggest possible questions, against the backdrop of the end of the world. What does it mean for a civilization to have a hated minority and a legacy of discrimination? What lies do we tell ourselves? Can a cycle of pain and violence ever be broken? The Stone Sky is one of the best fantasy trilogies in recent memory.
With the center of the world turned into a chain of volcanoes threatening to bring a Fifth Season that will wipe out all of humanity, Essun knows what she has to do: use the technology of a long-dead empire and her own perilous grasp of both magic and the seismic power of orogeny to bring back the moon and end the war between humans and the Evil Earth. But Essun set out to save her daughter, not the world. And that daughter, powerful in her own right, has seen too much of the evil of the world and the ruin it has brought to everyone she loves to stand it. If Nassun can reach the Obelisk Gate first, the Earth may not need a Fifth Season to end all life on its surface. (ORBIT, Aug., 464 pp., $16.99)