The Splinter in the Sky

S. & S. Audio. Jul. 2023. 13:56 hrs. ISBN 9781797163703. $23.99. SF
Tea expert Enitan wants a quiet life on her home moon of Koriko, but that becomes impossible when her older sibling Xiang is violently kidnapped. In the hope of finding them, Enitan agrees to become a prisoner of the Vaalbaran Empire. Stuck in the Empire’s floating capital city, Enitan becomes a curiosity for her hosts. She starts performing “authentic” Korikese tea ceremonies at nobles’ parties while eavesdropping for information about Xiang. Suddenly, the God-Emperor of Vaalbara, Imperator Menkhet, brings Enitan to her chambers to ask for something unthinkable—she needs a spy among her own people and would free Koriko if Enitan agrees to spy. Ashing-Giwa’s debut joins the likes of N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance and Arkady Martine’s “Teixcalaan” series as a refreshing take on colonization. Blending spy thriller, space opera, travelogue, shy romance, and rescue mission, the plot satisfies while defying convention. The lush description and history of the setting give a deep sense of place, and the languid pace belies the shortened timeframe of the plot. Narrator Soneela Nankani’s experience is apparent in the skill she brings to giving every character their own voice.
VERDICT A standout addition to the growing genre of anticolonialist, political SFF dramas.
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