In this continuation, we know who the characters are. The book is no less intense, magical, heart-breaking, confusing, or interesting for that knowledge.
We learn about Nassun, Essun's child who was referenced in the first book, but mostly as a ghost to chase, a goal for Essun. We begin to learn about when the seasons began. We learn that Schaffa can change, and about the Guardians.
If you read the first one, keep reading. Also strongly recommended, as, as soon as I finished this one, I started the next one.
Like keeping to like is the old way, but races and nations haven’t been important for a long time. Communities of purpose and diverse specialization are more efficient, as Old Sanze proved.
Complaining about nothing doesn’t seem like coping to you, but okay.
That’s when you no longer need an answer to the question. There is such a thing as too much loss. Too much has been taken from you both—taken and taken and taken, until there’s nothing left but hope, and you’ve given that up because it hurts too much. Until you would rather die, or kill, or avoid attachments altogether, than lose one more thing.
She feels a flash of anger that this exaggeration is why her father looks at her with such hate sometimes. But the anger is nebulous, directionless; she hates the world, not anyone in particular. That’s a lot to hate.
"I heard of one that asks an old man in the sky to keep them alive every time they go to sleep. People need to believe there’s more to the world than there is.”
And the world is just shit.
There’s no need to imagine the planet as some malevolent force seeking vengeance. It’s a rock. This is just how life is supposed to be: terrible and brief and ending in—if you’re lucky—oblivion.
"But just because you can’t see or understand a thing doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you."
You know that’s true.
Focusing on what you can, instead of mourning what you can’t.
So sad. Nassun decides he would not have meant it back then, even if he’d done something bad.
But allies are needed for specific tasks, and they are not the same thing as friends.
Things have been awkward between you and him lately. He’s made his interest clear, and you haven’t responded in kind. You haven’t rejected him, either, though, thus the awkwardness. At one point a few weeks back, Alabaster grumbled that you should just roll the boy already, because you were always crankier when you were horny. You called him an ass and changed the subject.
You keep thinking about Alabaster, too, though. Is this grief? You hated him, loved him, missed him for years, made yourself forget him, found him again, loved him again, killed him. The grief does not feel like what you feel about Uche, or Corundum, or Innon; those are rents in your soul that still seep blood. The loss of Alabaster is simply… a thinning of who you are.
“Because you don’t want to hear it, babe,” Hjarka says. “Doesn’t mean it’s wrong. You like things neat. Life’s not neat.”
“You like things messy.”
“Ykka likes things explained,” Ykka says pointedly.
You blink, a little thrown and a lot insulted. But… she’s right. Comms survive through a careful balance of trust and fear. Your impatience is tilting the balance too far out of true.
You’ve observed her before when she does orogeny, but this is the first time she’s tried to be precise about something. And—it’s completely not what you expected. She can’t shift a pebble, but she can slice out corners and lines so neatly that the end result looks machine-carved. It’s better than you could have done, and suddenly you realize: Maybe she couldn’t shift a pebble because who the rust needs to shift pebbles? That’s the Fulcrum’s way of testing precision. Ykka’s way is to simply be precise, where it is practical to do so. Maybe she failed your tests because they were the wrong tests.
The burns were killing him already; that you finished it was mercy. Eventually you’ll believe that.
“Why do you stay with her? Are you just… hungry?” I resist the urge to crush his head.
“I love her, of course.” There; I’ve managed a civil tone.
“Of course.” Lerna’s voice has grown soft.
Sleep, my love. Heal. I’ll stand guard over you, and be at your side when you set forth again. Of course. Death is a choice. I will make certain of that, for you.
“The destruction of one’s enemies, of course. A small and selfish purpose that feels great, in the moment—though not without consequence.”
“Father Earth fought back,” she says. “As one does, against those who seek to enslave. That’s understandable, isn’t it?”
The way of the world isn’t the strong devouring the weak, but the weak deceiving and poisoning and whispering in the ears of the strong until they become weak, too.
Hate is tiring. Nihilism is easier, though she does not know the word and will not for a few years. It’s what she’s feeling, regardless: an overwhelming sense of the meaninglessness of it all.
His icewhite gaze lifts to her, and she searches his expression with her belly clenched against imminent pain. There is only anguish in his face. Fear for her, sorrow on her behalf, alarm at her bloodied shoulder. Wariness and protective anger, as he focuses on Steel. He is still her Schaffa. The