The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin
The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin


Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Flavor: Primal earth-mages grappling with service to a society that both needs and fears them, as well as freedom from the horrible chains that their guardians judge are needed to keep them in line.

Thoughts: I listened to the Audible version. It started out slow for me over the first couple of hours, but soon broke through into quite the interesting story that easily had me hooked. Jemisin’s voice is distinct and fresh. The world she builds is intriguingly different than most fantasy settings, with enough broad strokes to give a sense of scope and spikes of detail to inform the story, but leaving much more to be fleshed out in future tales. The characters are strong, evolving in real and complex ways. By the end, I felt like I had thoroughly lived a story to a satisfying end, but with a clear setup for the next book.

Verdict: Highly recommended. An excellent choice for fantasy enthusiasts looking for something different, and very well-done. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, and certainly feels worthy of that honor. I’ll be prioritizing the next book in the Broken Earth series on my to-read list.

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