First in a trilogy, much is devoted to building the world, an earth-like place called the Stillness with magic and mythical creatures. The world seems to hate people, at least the people think so. There are earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, famine and dark times. And, there are those who can control earthquakes, starting and stopping them. They are the orogenes. Orogenes can save cities, or draw power from living creatures to destroy. Whenever found they are enslaved, hated, revered, abused, and brainwashed to serve during training and education yet ultimately controlled by Guardians.
Essun, Damaya, and Syenite, three names, define an orogene who is in reality one woman. Other characters are equally engaging, many of whom are women. But the strongest orogenes have ten rings, earned by tests to prove their skills. Alabaster, a male orogene, yearns for peace and freedom from the Guardians.
Three storylines evolve in different timelines, converging into to one by the book's end. Several voices tell the story. First. meet Essun next to her young son's corpse. An orogene, he was killed by his human father. The angry Essun, who has kept taken on a human role to hide her orogene skills, in revenge, begins to search for him and her surviving child, a girl also an orogene. Second, meet Damaya, a young girl orogene who is sold by her family to be educated and trained. Third, meet Syenite, an orogene initiate. Her training includes working with Alabaster, one of the strongest orogenes. His magical abilities far exceed those of Syenite.
Winner of the Hugo award, this novel is so creative and well written that one cannot help but seek out the following books to complete the trilogy. It's magical writing plunges the reader into a world like no other with humans of many colors, sexual inclinations and talents. Meet the Guardians whose talents nullify those of the orogenes, the mysterious stone people whose lore is known to most people, and those around whom this story evolves. This is a fantastic read from a very talented writer.