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6 hours ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +3 points

This was a fantastic chapter! Nassun and Schaffa's talks in the first half are good, but the description of the creepy, decaying underground city are what make it downright awesome.

I'm enjoying this book much more than the other two in the trilogy, especially because of the Syl Anagist chapters and the various mysterious and/or creepy places Essun and Nassun have been travelling through: the stone forest, Old Man's Pucker, and now this dead underground city (or rather, node of Syl Anagist). And we still haven't seen Corepoint - I'm looking forward to that.

2 days ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +4 points

"Move forward."

This conversation reminds me of a very similar one from one of my favourite books of all time, Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, about moving on after a devastating loss:

"You go on. You just go on. There's nothing more to it, and there's no trick to make it easier. You just go on."
"What do you find on the other side? When you go on?"
"Your life again. What else?"
"Is that a promise?"
"It's an inevitability. No trick. No choice. You just go on."

(For added poignancy and similarity to Essun's situation, the first speaker in the above conversation is a woman whose child was murdered.)

1 week ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 1 reply · +3 points

I don't understand - why can Nassun manipulate the silver threads (i.e. magic) easily and instinctively, without any of her body parts turning to stone, whereas every time Essun does so, she gets literally petrified? Is it supposed to be a difference in ability - that is, is Nassun simply more talented than Essun? Or a difference in learning vs. instinct - that is, Essun is hampered by her Fulcrum training, while Nassun goes by pure instinct?

Or something else altogether? For instance, in this chapter, Essun makes a distinction between orogeny and magic, and notices that the latter (the silver threads of magic) recoils from orogeny. The silver threads are found in all living things. Schaffa is controlled by the silver threads. So is it that the silver threads are Father Earth's own personal form of magic? And Nassun is somehow more attuned to it. On the other hand, Father Earth hates orogeny/orogenes, and so tries to turn them into stone whenever they try to use magic, but Nassun has somehow found a way around this limitation. Perhaps through her connection with Schaffa?

2 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +2 points

The timeline facts in this chapter just don't add up. According to the first book, Essun was on the road for 2 months when she reached Castrima. In this chapter, she says that she lived in Castrima for 7-8 months. So, in short, it's been around 9-10 months since Essun left Tirimo, which was a day or two after Uche's death and the Rifting.

But in this same chapter, Tonkee says that Jija has been holding on to Nassun for 20-21 months. How to reconcile these two wildly varying timelines? Jija left Tirimo with Nassun on the same day as Uche's death. How can he have been holding her for almost a year longer than the time that Essun passed on the road + in Castrima? Even allowing for some rounding errors here and there, it simply doesn't add up.

*Grumble* It's just another case of Writers Suck At Basic Math, isn't it?

4 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +3 points

Perhaps 'heroes' wasn't the correct word to use - let's say, protagonists or sympathetic characters. But I stand by my assertion: What makes these characters sympathetic? Why should I root for them or even try to understand their actions, when it's clear that their actions - undertaken deliberately and knowingly, not accidentally or in self-defence - caused the deaths of huge numbers of innocent people, and suffering for many more? Why does the narrative tell me to root for these people, while others, such as the people from Renannis in the previous book, who're just trying to survive in a world plunged into chaos, are depicted as unsympathetic?

My issue at this point is mainly with Alabaster, not Hoa, since it's clear that there's a lot more to come regarding the latter's story. But Alabaster is dead (kind of, anyway), and his story seems to be over. From what I can tell, his story boils down to 'cool motive, still murder'. Yes, he was driven to the edge and all that, but I still don't see how that justifies mass murder. Certainly not the way he went about it. It's not like he led a revolt in which there was some unavoidable collateral damage. His concept of 'tearing down the system to build it back up' didn't involve any building back up at all - it was just tearing down. Once again, while it's understandable that he reached the point where he wanted the world to end because it had been so cruel to him and everyone like him, the way he went about it was purely destructive, not at all constructive, and he punished the guilty and innocent alike.

I disagree with the comparison to Nassun as well. Nassun is a literally a child - she's just 10-11 years old at this point, and has lived in fear of her life from the people she loves, including her own father. It's not surprising that she's feeling nihilistic. But I don't expect her, or any other child, to view or resolve moral dilemmas the way an adult would.

I think the comparisons with the ASOIAF characters are pretty mistaken as well, for a wide number of reasons. For one thing, not all the characters you mentioned are really considered heroic by the narrative - at the very least, they're considered very grey. Not to mention, there's a pretty major difference in their actions. To take the example of a character comparable to Alabaster: yes, Daenerys's actions are pretty violent at times, and she has killed / been responsible for the deaths of many people. However, she is a revolutionary who is trying to tear down an oppressive regime and build a better one in its place. She isn't just going around murdering people because they were mean to her or others like her. (Just to be clear, I'm talking about ASOIAF / the books here, most definitely not GoT / the show.) She's tearing down and building back up. That's heroic. Just tearing down isn't - or at least not when it involves indiscriminate mass murder.

4 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 0 replies · +4 points

Hey Mark, I came across your new book on the Goodreads blog a few days ago: 52 New Books by Hispanic and Latinx Authors to Read Now :)

4 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Stone ... · 2 replies · +4 points

Huh, so Hoa was the one who 'lost' the Moon? Wtf?!

In the first book, Alabaster broke the continent in two for ... uh, Reasons. And in doing so, he killed thousands/millions of people, and set off a massive volcanic winter - a Season - that will last for thousands of years. And now he expects Essun to ... continue his work? clean up his mess?

Some thousands of years ago, Hoa flung away the Moon ... also for Reasons. And in doing so, it seems that he set off the whole cycle of Seasons that has plagued the Stillness ever since, resulting in millions/billions of deaths and massive amounts of suffering for millennia on end. And now he expects Essun to clean up his mess.

The parallels are obvious, but also disturbing. More than anything, I am annoyed that these are the characters the narrative tells me I'm supposed to be rooting for. Why exactly? What makes them the heroes rather than the villains? I really hope this book has some pretty good answers to this question. Because I take a dim view of 'the ends justify the means' as a reason for committing atrocities, especially atrocities on this scale.

4 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Obelis... · 0 replies · +5 points

I liked this book a little more than The Fifth Season. Though that may be because at least for this one, I was Prepared for how far Jemisin could go to torture her characters (and thus indirectly, her readers). I especially liked Nassun as a character and her story. And though at first I was annoyed at seeing Schaffa again, he managed to be surprisingly sympathetic in this book (though that's probably because the rest of this world is filled with absolute assholes).

I'm also glad that this book focused relatively more on the magical aspects of the story instead of its politics. I don't dislike politics in books in general, but the politics of the Stillness are just so utterly depressing and nihilism-inducing that I had a hard time getting through some of the bleaker chapters in the previous book. Not that this book didn't have its share of bleakness, but at least it balanced it with cool stuff about the obelisks.

I'm happy that some of my pessimistic predictions at the beginning of this book didn't come true (such as Jija inadvertently killing/mutilating Nassun in an attempt to cure her). But that said, I feel that this last chapter pretty much explicitly sets the stage for the worst one to come true in the next book: that Essun and Nassun will confront each other orogenically (probably via the obelisks) and that Essun will wind up killing her only remaining child. They are both trying to bring back the Moon, but for diametrically opposite purposes, so it's only inevitable that they'll clash. :(

4 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Obelis... · 0 replies · +3 points

Yeah, pretty much. "No one will ever suffer again" - because no one will be left alive to suffer. (Except presumably the Stone Eaters. Do they not count as "someone", I wonder?)

4 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Obelis... · 1 reply · +3 points

The Hallowed Hunt isn't really related to the first two books in the series - it's pretty much standalone. In fact, it takes place in an earlier time period. The only reason these books are considered a 'series' is that they all take place in the same world, with the same religion/mythology (which is vital to the plot of all the books in the series).

That said, I strongly recommend reading all three books in the series. In fact, the first two, The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, are two of my favourite books of all time. Awesome characters, great worldbuilding - including the above-mentioned mythology - and lovely prose. :) ETA: Ah, yes, and inside-out tropes, as sylviamcivers says above. :D