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This book was recommended to me on Twitter. I’d replied to a thread about SciFi and said I thought I didn’t like the genre until I read some SciFi by women, and cited Margaret Atwood, Ursula K LeGuin and Octavia Butler as writers whose work I’d really enjoyed. One person suggested I try this trilogy by Jemisin, and I’m glad I did. Personally I am surprised this is classed as SciFi. Is it the alternate world setting that qualifies it as part of the genre? It felt like fantasy to me but, either way, I loved it.
It’s a tricksy, twisty narrative, but to explain why would be to spoil some of the fun, so I’ll attempt to write a spoiler-free review. The narrative is split between three POVs -Syenite, Damaya, and a second-person narrative Essun. All three are orogenes, people with the ability to manipulate the earth and rock to create or stop earthquakes. Because of this catastrophic power orogenes are feared and shunned by the rest of society known as stills.
It begins with the death of a child and a quest for revenge, but this is woven into a wider story which questions the fundamentals of a society which is constantly threatened by mass extinction. The main characters are beautifully drawn and the world-building is rich and vivid, with brilliant expletives and fascinating customs and politics. It is absolutely not somewhere I would wish to live.
I’ll be ordering the next book in the series with my next paycheck and if you enjoy alternate worlds and (what ostensibly feels like) magic, I would suggest you grab a copy and lose yourself in 449 delightful pages.
‘Still,’ I said, feeling that it was worth trying, ‘it’s part of the great web, what?’
‘One of Marcus Aurelius’s cracks. He said: “Does aught befall you? It is good. It is part of the destiny of the Universe ordained for you from the beginning. All that befalls you is part of the great web.”’
From the brusque manner in which he damned and blasted Marcus Aurelius, I gathered that, just as had happened when Jeeves sprang it on me, the gag had failed to bring balm. I hadn’t had much hope that it would. I doubt, as a matter of fact, if Marcus Aurelius’s material is ever the stuff to give the troops at a moment when they have just stubbed their toe on the brick of Fate. You want to wait till the agony has abated.
This was ridiculously good fun. I love Jeeves and Wooster series but some stories are better than others, and this was one of the best ones. Dare I say, it was on the same level as the one with Aunt Dahlia and the cow creamer? I like that one, too.
Anyway, in this one Bertie is trying to help a couple of his friends to untangle some obstacles in their love lives, and of course, just makes it worse. What stood out from the start in this one, however, is that Bertie is not just having to deal with one of his own aunts, but also no less than five aunts of one of his friends' betrothed...and five aunts is really more than anyone should be expected to deal with.
While there is slapstick galore in this story, we also get to see Bertie from new angles. For example, we learn that he - as many of us do - resorts to reading to calm his nerves:
"I have generally found on these occasions when the heart is heavy that the best thing to do is to curl up with a good goose-flesher and try to forget, and fortunately I had packed among my effects one called Murder At Greystone Grange. I started to turn its pages now, and found that I couldn’t have made a sounder move. It was one of those works in which Baronets are constantly being discovered dead in libraries and the heroine can’t turn in for a night without a Thing popping through a panel in the wall of her bedroom and starting to chuck its weight about, and it was not long before I was so soothed that I was able to switch off the light and fall into a refreshing sleep, which lasted, as my refreshing sleeps always do, till the coming of the morning cup of tea."