One line plot summary: There are wizard people who can break the earth and occasionally the earth has cataclystic seismic shifts that kill a lot of people, so we follow three of these wizard women in various levels of their lives immediately following the latest disaster.
Not my best work in crafting the title nor the one line summary but since this is a zero accountability blog the failing is not mine. Let me tell you who is definitely not failing, the author of this masterpiece N.K. Jemisin. Hugo awards and a bunch of other awards I don’t feel like copying and pasting to pretend like I know what they are. You can go about looking at awards in a couple of ways, either you have a bunch of em and they matter or you win a bunch of bullshit awards that don’t mean anything. I hate on awards, but I’d rather have awards then not have them annnnnnny day. You look at my trophy case and it is empty, well actually it is filled but with a million participation medals from races I, you know, participated in. A wall of failing if you will. I did win the college math achievement award in high school, which sounds very immpressive, until you learn that college math in high school is the class you take senior year when you are too stupid to be allowed to take real math classes like pre-calc or AP calc. Basically the brightest of the dullest award.
Jemy dollars on the other hand has the hardware, and 101 dalmatian pages in it is obvious that she deserves them all. If you couldn’t gather what this book is about from my one sentence summary, I will attempt to break it down. So some lady wakes up and her kid is dead. This is used as the launching point of introducing us into the world, well after the introduction chapter that does the same thing. I am more of a show me and I will figure it out then give me a cryptic big chapter world, but this is just so well done that I found myself engaging with it. Normally I hate that stuff and I just try to power through to get to the story, similar to that inevitable magic explaining teacher to student chapter that appears so consistently. I would love to be educated enough to know if there are more specific terms for these kinds of tropes but I’m not so there ya go. Great introductions can go a long way, this is one of those books that does this.
I wish I had something negative to say about this because it is more on brand but I can’t. Right now the book has three storylines. The first is this lady whose kid is beat to death by her husband because the kid is a little earth wizard. The lady wants a little slice of revenge pie, also the husband swiped up the other kid so she wants her daughter back. These chapters are done in the very difficult to pull off second person. One of my all time favorite books, Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney, is also in the second person. That was just a random factoid to throw in there to show how smart I am. The second story line is some kid who is just finding out she is an earth wizard and her family gives her to some guy who I assume is going to bring her to the wizard school. The third story line is a 20 year old who is already at the earth wizard school. So three different earth wizards at three different times, pretty simple. I don’t really feel like putting in character names, somehow I feel like that detracts from the summary
And yet, what could easily be a rewrite of The Earthsea Cycle series is instead a fantastically crafted universe that so far is doing a great job of balancing personal stories with big magic. I can’t wait to see how this plays out. The only fear I have is with such high levels of magic already shown, will any major issue eventually get solved by a bigger display of magic to the point where it losses plausibility. Stay tuned.