My rating: 5 of 5 stars (aka 10/10)
I’ve just finished this and I find myself feeling very emotional about it in a way that I can’t explain. It’s not the “blown away” feeling I had at the end of The Broken Kingdoms; this is something quieter that’s developing as I keep digesting what I’ve just read.
It started almost light and fun, totally appropriate for Sieh’s nature but as – for reasons it took the whole book for us to understand – he matured and grew, the tone and strength of the story did too. I loved Sieh, I have from the beginning, but it was because he was mercurial and snarky and fun. By the end, that too had matured and grown, in a way that made the end (or perhaps, the apparent end, before the coda) all the more textured and strong.
It was only as I got to the end of this book that I realised that in many ways, the entire trilogy is about loneliness. That’s what triggered pretty much everything, from the beginning to the end. It was never preached or made obvious, but it was there underlying everything.
I didn’t know I was going to be so moved by this book, but as I said at the beginning, it grew on me slowly, building as I reached the end. And oh, the ending…
I read it and I thought “oh, I wish it had been easier, but that was right and true”. I had the same reaction at the end of the previous book, but it was even stronger here because I wished for a tied-up-with-a-bow ending for the characters. I don’t know that I actually wanted one, especially at the expense of the power of the story, but I loved them all, so I wished they might get one. They didn’t and I didn’t. We got something better.
And then, just to throw me further off guard, Jemisin threw in the coda, tossed everything around again and gave me an even better ending, still without bows and ribbons, just with a sense of it being totally right. And happy too, with just a touch of the bittersweet, which is something she is very good at.
Finally, in the “extras” at the back of the book, she gave me a short story that did pretty much exactly the same thing, with the story Not the End adding a coda to the right ending of The Broken Kingdoms that completed the last possibly unfinished piece of the entire arc (although it would have been perfectly fine to leave it that way because she had already ended it right at the end of that book).
The whole story, the trilogy, is finished and complete. It’s full and done and right and I have been very, very happy to be able to follow it.
So I guess that’s the feeling I couldn’t describe; it’s fulfillment and satisfaction, that sense of a story told right and finished right, but with just a bit of sadness because there’s no need for more.
Thank you Ms Jemisin for both the story and the feeling. You’re permanently established on my auto-buy list.
P.S. I’m rather proud of myself that I did pick up the parallel between the Three and the three before it was made explicit in the book. (And I think that’s vague enough not to be spoilery for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet.)