In The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison returns to the world of The Goblin Emperor with a direct sequel to The Witness For The Dead... Celehar's life as the Witness for the Dead of Amalo grows less isolated as his circle of friends grows larger. He has been given an apprentice to teach, and he has stumbled over a scandal of the city--the foundling girls. Orphans with no family to claim them and no funds to buy an apprenticeship. Foundling boys go to the Prelacies; foundling girls are sold into service, or worse. At once touching and shattering, Celehar's witnessing for one of these girls will lead him into the depths of his own losses. The love of his friends will lead him out again.
And on another side note it wasn't until I finished *The Witness for the Dead* that I bothered to look at the copyright page and was delighted to find that Katherine Addison was a pseudonym for Sarah Monette, co-author with Elizabeth Bear of the powerful Iskyrne series. Bonus.
*The Grief of Stones* is a direct sequel to *The Witness for the Dead* (and spoiler alert: she sets up a book three!) in what is now called the *The Cemeteries of Amalo* series. It picks up pretty much right after *The Witness for the Dead* and I would recommend reading them in order. The main character, Celehar, a Witness for the Dead who has been in all three books, investigates another death per his calling and it soon becomes bigger than he had foreseen, taking him across the city and intersecting the lives of both the nobility and the destitute and abandoned. And of course along the way we learn even more about makes this most interesting man tick.
A combination of detective fiction, steam punk, fantasy and pure fun, the *The Grief of Stones* is a great read. My favourite kind of read in fact. The characters (especially Celehar) are sympathetic, mostly non-heroic and and just trying their best, and Addison deftly weaves the culture and history of her world around the "humanity" of the characters rather than getting caught up in how her complex world-building affects them. It is one of those books with a culture that hosts a rich and complex structure replete with confusing titles, indecipherable relationships and opaque hierarchies, but is one that you can just safely ignore as much of that as you please and be certain that the story will carry you along—it's the kind of writing I love when it's done well (and this most certainly is) because you know you can go back again and again and discover something new every time.
So go out, read the first two books, and get ready for the release of *The Grief of Stones*—you won't regret any of it.
Well worth reading, but probably not the best place to start.
Advanced Reader's Copy provided by Edelweiss.
This is the
It was a lot of fun to revisit this world and these characters and Celahar embarks on yet another set of interwoven mysteries.
NB This book is being listed as Cemeteries of Amalo 2, Goblin Emperor 3. I'm going to stick with Goblin Emperor in my catalog.
But though he's settling in, he's also extremely depressed. This isn't new, but it's not getting better. He's caught in a conflict with a local religious authority, Dach'othalar Vernezar, who is angered by the fact that Thara is the only cleric in Amalo who isn't under his authority. Thara's presence in the city was request by Prince Orchenis, and he was appointed directly by the Archprelate. It's an uncomfortable position to be in, and it gives him powerful enemies.
The storytelling here is gentle, though the mysteries his petitioners bring to him are often quite brutal in their facts and impact.
Marquess Ulzhavel sends for Thara to investigate whether the seemingly natural death of his wife, Tomilo, was actually murder, after he finds a threatening note in her papers as he's sorting through them. Tomilo has been dead too long for Thara to be able to speak to her ghost, so he has to find other ways to investigate.
Subpreceptor Azhanharad of the Vigilant Brotherhood asks him to Witness for a a woman whose body was washed up in the canal. He gets faint impressions of her last moments; she was murdered. Very little else is left. He takes her earring, and sets out to see if anyone can identify her from that. They can. She's a soprano at the Vermillion Opera. This leads Thara to his friend, Iana Pel-Thenhior, the opera director. At least Thara gets cooperation in questioning everyone there.
He's also approached by someone connected, or formerly connected, to a boarding school for foundling girls, where something hard to pin down is wrong. Tomilo Ulzhavel was previously on the board, but had resigned after a conflict with another board member, but no one seems to know why. And yes, two seemingly separate mysteries are about to become intertwined.
Along the way, Thala Celehar is surprised to be sent an apprentice, a Witness in training, Othala Tomasarin. She's a widow who has discovered her ability to speak with the dead, and thus her calling, rather late, and has been sent to him to be trained, rather than being enrolled in the more conventional clerical training. At first he has no idea what to do with her, but he's a kind and decent person, and so is she, and they discover they can work together well.
It is, as I said, a gentle storytelling, and does not at first appear to be fast-moving, but a great deal happens in all that gentle storytelling. There's political intrigue, uncovering a child pornography ring, investigating a terrible disaster, and the slow but promising development of Thara's relationship with Iana Pel-Thenhior. It's not certain even at the end how far that will go; Thara still has tragedy to recover from.
It's a rich, rewarding story, with the steady and absorbing development of not just Thara, but his friends and associates, and the city of Amalo itself.
I bought this audiobook.
There is the usual religious intrigue that seems to be part of his life but the murders get solved and the other crimes that come to light during the course of the book are also stopped. These are great mysteries set in a fantasy world and I hope there will be so many more to read in this setting. The audio of this is wonderful and has the same narrator as before.
Digital review copy provided by the publisher through Edelweiss