The whole series is a great big sprawling complex, hard-to-follow-at-times plot, featuring people (orogens) who have powers to move earth objects, gemlike objects in the sky, which these same people of high abilities can connect with and move, stone eaters, creatures who are made of stone but are able to move through the earth, and who feed on normal people, and when the orogens work with the big gems in the sky, parts of their bodies turn to stone, humans, who are afraid of the orogens because they can turn humans into ice, and lots of other terrible things.
I saw it as a giant metaphor for the racial conflict of not just the USA but globally, with the orogens representing the hated ‘race’ but here that hated race is given superpowers. It is all about who runs things, the payoffs, the usual stuff, all cloaked in a sci fi fantasy, grimdark, dystopian guise. As one reviewer writes:
The Broken Earth is a hateful trilogy of hating; so it’s appropriate that book 3 emphasized that the Earth was alive and conscious and really really hated humanity. Like every other character in this book, Father Earth was petty and resentful, even going so far as to descend to the most childish of self-justifications: ‘You started this!’ He wanted revenge on humans because they tried to drill to the core, without stopping to think about how Earth would feel about that. Of course, humans didn’t know that Earth was living and conscious, so they never gave a second though to his feelings. This was presented as a terrible failure on the part of humanity.
So yeah, I enjoyed it, what I understood of if. Some of it just made no sense to me. I need a smidgeon, a soupçon , a pinch, of plausiblity here and there for me to really get into it, and stone creatures moving through the earth just didn’t make the cut, but generally, I loved the characters, who were all beautifully drawn and fleshed out, and the world building was fantastic.
See, here is the difference between good sci fi, great sci fi, and really great sci fi. Good sci fi gives you an exciting story with great world building. Great sci fi gives you that plus more involved characters and situations. Really great sci fi gives you a world, and characters, and situations that would never occur in your own world, because your own world is nothing like that world. Good sci fi plops down recognizable characters and recognizable and familiar situations into some made up futuristic world that although is interesting and entertaining, does not strike you as much more than a stage set as background for that familiar trope of people and situations. But really great sci fi gives you a world you could not possibly imagine on your best imagining day, and then creates a plot there, which because of that alien world, could only happen there.
A trilogy — with each volume just as interesting and compelling as the one before it. Don’t find that too often, do we.