The Holy Vaalbaran Empire has ruled the small moon of Koriko for nearly a generation, imposing its will over her people with an iron fist. Like the rest of Koriko’s inhabitants, scribe Enitan has adapted to imperial rule, becoming fluent in the empire’s holy language. When her former lover is assassinated and her sibling, Xiang, goes missing, Enitan travels into the heart of the empire to search for Xiang. Once there, she is caught between two enormous forces. On one side, the Ominirish Republic, the Vaalbaran Empire’s only rival, asks her to spy on the empire in exchange for help finding Xiang. And on the other, the newly crowned Imperator Menkhet, God of the Vaalbaran Empire, has asked for Enitan’s help in exchange for the freedom of Koriko. To save her sibling and liberate her people, Enitan must strike a delicate balance and play a game of intrigue far more challenging than she ever anticipated.
The Splinter in the Sky is an engrossing novel that captures, in impressive prose, the deep discomfort of living under occupation. Kemi Ashing-Giwa’s present-tense writing pulls readers deep into Enitan’s rich inner life, behind the mask she is forced to wear in order to survive. To achieve her goals, Enitan must stay silent in the face of being told that she’s not like the “other savages” and smile as members of the imperial elite auction off her people’s priceless religious artifacts. The result is a firmly anti-colonialist novel that doesn’t balk at examining how even the best intentioned colonizer can cause real harm to real people.
Ashing-Giwa’s world, where even the God-Emperor is subject to manipulation and betrayal, is filled with political intrigue. However, it’s also a world where hope still exists. Even in the darkest moments of her journey, Enitan is propelled forward by hope—hope that Xiang is still alive and hope that she may be able to fulfill her mission and free her people.