The Surviving Sky (Paperback)
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Enter a lush world of cataclysmic storms, planet-wide jungles, floating cities and devastating magic in this first book of an explosive new science fantasy trilogy, perfect for fans of N.K. Jemisin, Tasha Suri and Martha Wells.
High above a jungle-planet float the last refuges of humanity—plant-made civilizations held together by tradition, technology, and arcane science. Here, architects are revered deeply, with humanity’s survival reliant on a privileged few. If not for their abilities, the cities would plunge into the devastating earthrage storms below.
Charismatic and powerful, Iravan is one such architect. His abilities are his identity, but to Ahilya, his archeologist wife, they are a method to suppress non-architects. Their marriage is thorny and fraught—yet when a jungle expedition goes terribly wrong, jeopardizing their careers, Ahilya and Iravan must work together to save their reputations. But as their city begins to plummet, their discoveries threaten not only their marriage, but their entire civilization.
About the Author
Kritika H. Rao is a science-fiction and fantasy writer, who has lived in India, Australia, Canada and The Sultanate of Oman. Kritika’s stories are influenced by her lived experiences, and often explore themes of consciousness, self vs. the world, and identity. She drops in and out of social media; you might catch her on Twitter or Instagram @KritikaHRao. Visit her online at www.kritikahrao.com.
“Enthralling and highly imaginative. The Surviving Sky is a richly crafted story set in a fascinating world of flying cities, deadly storms and intricate magic, with intriguing characters. I loved the protagonists and their relationship, fraught with tension and secrets, ambition and desire.”—Sue Lynn Tan, bestselling author of Daughter of the Moon Goddess
“Breathtakingly inventive, The Surviving Sky is a twisty, cerebral journey through a fractured marriage, a world plagued by storms, and the question of what it means to be human. This is a book to get lost in.” —Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne
"Kritika H. Rao crafts an inventive and cerebral debut, reimagining South Asian culture in a wonderfully different world. A story about love, duty, power, as much as it is about fascinating lore and costly magic. The struggles of magic, class, and the needs of the many versus the needs of oneself are all examined and put to the test within The Surviving Sky."—R. R. Virdi, USA Today bestselling author of The First Binding
“Intensely imaginative and heartbreakingly human, The Surviving Sky paints a brutal, unforgiving world and the life that tenuously exists above it. Filled with both startling revelations and the intimate portrait of a struggling marriage, this is a story that is hard to put down.” —Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter
“The Surviving Sky weaves a compelling web of wounded hearts and warped duty, as conflicting forces of ambition, love, and magic strain its characters to the breaking point in a lush world on the brink of destruction. Fall from its floating city’s edge into a storm of emotions!” —Melissa Caruso, author of The Obsidian Tower
“The Surviving Sky is a high-octane science fantasy with heady, cerebral ideas and a lushly imagined world, whose story centers on a 30s-ish married couple—very unusual for fantasy! There is nothing else out there which is quite like it!” —Sunyi Dean, author of The Book Eaters
“A unique blend of sci-fi futurism, eco-fantasy mystery, and intriguing spirituality, Rao's debut about a dissolving marriage in a world on the brink of destruction is truly unlike anything I've ever read. Extremely original and thought-provoking, The Surviving Sky is something completely new and hard to find—I utterly loved it and couldn't put it down.” —Shannon Chakraborty, internationally bestselling author of The Daevabad Trilogy.
“This wildly imaginative book explores a fracturing world through the deeply painful lens of a fracturing human heart. At times brutal, often beautiful, The Surviving Sky offers a thrilling glimpse into a flawed society scrambling to survive. But it is Rao's engagement with our spiritual nature, and the bonds we forge with our inner and outer selves, that really elevates this story above other science fantasies. Don't miss it!”—Lucy Holland, author of Sistersong
"The Surviving Sky is a prodigious gift best slowly unwrapped. Nakshar is an enigma of a city, as rooted and protective as its people; its stakes feel cosmic yet intimate. With two headstrong characters, Ahilya and Iravan, at its helm, the story bristles, charges headlong toward its fate, keeps readers on their feet. Rao has offered us a world like no other."—Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of Son of the Storm
"Calling it now: Rao is going to be one of the next great names in sci-fi and fantasy. The Surviving Sky is an intricately-crafted tale that deftly weaves ethereal magic and real-world relational challenges with rare skill and subtlety. In this stunning debut, Rao manages to explore the nuance of navigating a failing marriage and the societal dangers associated with burying the darker sides of a people's history... all while doling out action and teasing mysteries that will have you turning pages long after lights out. A vivid, verdant fantasy world rife with ethereal magic, inventive technology, and rich history sets the stage for lyrical prose, political nuance, and a complex cast of characters wrestling with trust, expectations, and personal ambition." —M. J. Kuhn, author of Among Thieves
“Sentient forests. Flying cities. Lost histories. Power, rivalry, love, and exile. The Surviving Sky is a cornucopia of wonders, where powerful architects mould reality through communion with flora, where the sky is refuge and the earth perilous, where every choice can shatter the earth, and where an act of atonement can break the world. Combining the best of Stanislaw Ken’s Solaris and NK Jemisin’s The Broken Earth, the Surviving Sky is an immersive and original epic fantasy.”— Gautam Bhatia, author of The Wall and The Horizon
“Brimming with fascinating lore and dangerous magic, The Surviving Sky is an evocative debut that will sink its roots—and thorns—into your heart.” —Chelsea Abdullah, author of The Stardust Thief
“In this brilliant, gorgeous debut, Kritika H. Rao’s The Surviving Sky weaves a kaleidoscopic environmental plot with relationships that feel very real indeed. The combination is electric. I loved watching the main characters grow, evolve, and become unforgettable, each in their own right. This is a story unlike any I’ve read before, an epic adventure through fantastic landscapes and heartscapes.” —Fran Wilde, double Nebula Award-winning author of Updraft and Riverland
"Immersive, inventive and intense, at once both universal and wholly South Asian, THE SURVIVING SKY is a debut destined to live many lives. Let it grab your heart with its spiked, slithering vines!"—Samit Basu, author of The City Inside
“With lush prose, compelling characters, and a wonderfully built world, The Surviving Sky has everything I hope for in a novel. This is a book for anyone who has ever loved and longed for the natural world around them.” —Joshua Phillip Johnson, author of The Forever Sea
“The Surviving Sky dares to imagine a boldly unique fantasy world and succeeds in spades. Lush and evocative, this flying jungle city will draw you in, and the characters anchoring the story will keep you reading to the very end.” —Rowenna Miller, author of The Unraveled Kingdom trilogy
“The Surviving Sky’s characters struggle passionately to balance communal survival and individual ambition, exposing the private strain on a marriage. Teeming with detailed world-building, this debut is perfect for fans of original science fantasy.” —E.J. Beaton, author of The Councillor
“The Surviving Sky is utterly creative, a heady and mysterious tapestry of love, duty, and discovery centered around a civilization toppling from the sky, a unique magic system, and an archaeological expedition into the ravenous jungle of a murder planet. Add in a slow-burn romance and Rao’s exploration of human drive, desire, and consciousness—and The Surviving Sky is sure to stay with readers long after the final page.” —H.M. Long, author of Hall of Smoke
“With worldbuilding and magical metaphysics as alive as the emotion on the page, The Surviving Sky devastates and resurges, intricating a mystery behind civilization’s flight away from a ravaged earth. The protagonists navigate the love and fury of a fraught marriage, class struggles, and layered secrets as thick as the jungle itself. While they spiral around a reconciliation that could save their unraveling city, the truth proves more transcendent than either is ready for.” —Essa Hansen, Author of Nophek Gloss
"Some books reach right into your brain and give it a good shake, and this expansive science fantasy, with its wildly inventive worldbuilding and characters who feel desperately real, shook mine in the most delicious way. Highly recommended!"—Sam Hawke, author of The Poison Wars
"This Hindu-inspired sci-fi fantasy is a transcendent debut, full of cosmic magic and set in an exquisitely glorious and treacherous world. Such a daring ecological and metaphysical endeavor is perfect for fans of Wesley Chu and Brandon Sanderson."—Library Journal starred review
"Rao weaves a tale of broken love, redemption, and the Hindu concept of samsara in her magical and mind-bending debut. Drawing deeply from Hindu mysticism, this heart-pounding cli-fi adventure will leave readers breathless."—Publishers Weekly starred review
"This intriguing blend of science fiction, fantasy, and climate fiction captures the apocalyptic turmoil of N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy and the conflicted lovers of Tasha Suri’s Burning Kingdoms series with a magic system that will appeal to fans of Brandon Sanderson." –Booklist Starred Review
"...a fast-paced, fascinating novel wrapped in philosophy and spirituality. Rao’s debut will dazzle many."—Fantasy Hive
“The Surviving Sky has some of the most intricate and inventive worldbuilding I’ve ever had the pleasure to lose myself in, coupled with a story that both examines exactly what it means to be human while daring to ask: what if we were more?” —Anna Stephens, author of The Godblind Trilogy
“Daringly inventive and uncannily enthralling, The Surviving Sky transports readers to a torn and tumultuous future-Earth. While storms and strange ecology shape the world, the characters' personal cataclysms are grounded in the compelling struggles of the human heart.” —Cass Morris, author of From Unseen Fire
"A reading experience that is incalculably enjoyable, creatively built, thoroughly immersive, and just like a majority of concepts in Hindu philosophy, thought-provoking and incredibly hard to distill." —Fantasy Book Critic
“Precise, exquisite, and jaw-dropping. The world is rich and alien and wonderfully new, grounded by characters so familiar they ache. I loved every page.” —Dan Well, New York Times Bestselling Author