The Jewel and Her Lapidary is the final entry in the Nebula novella category. The story centers on Lin, the Jewel, and Sima, the Lapidary, the last survivors of treason against the royal family of the valley. That family invoked the power of gems to protect it. But there were two great costs that brought them down--the gems cause madness in those who can hear them, unless great skill is used and precautions taken. More insidiously, it allowed the people of the valley not to participate in their own defense--the gems and lapidaries handled it. Now their kingdom is at an end.
I really enjoyed Updraft, the Nebula nominated novel by Wilde from last year. This story is less ambitious, but I can't help thinking it could have been. Fleshing out other characters and developing the setting would have produced a novel, probably a good one. As it is, we learn little about the valley society, missing out on what we learned of the people in her novel. The story is a good one, but pretty much middle of the pack in the field this year. 3 stars from me.
So who's my favorite this year? If it's my choice I pick Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar. It's too beautiful to deny. We'll see what the voters do.