Title: The Fifth Season
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Published: August 2015
Landed in my hands: purchased it myself
Summary (from cover blurb and inside cover):
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal and long-dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.
This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old orders pass. New societies are born. When we say “the world has ended,” it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine.
But this is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
For the last time.
You know when you read a book and you’re giddy with the thought of singing its praises and spreading word of your fabulous find to all your reader friends?
Enter N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season.
It wasn’t until July hit and I stumbled upon an upcoming releases list that I realized Jemisin even had a new book on the horizon. This would also be the moment where I discover that Jemisin hasn’t just rocketed up my favourite authors list, but she has also landed squarely in the category of “no need to hear the pitch, just blindly (deafly?) order the book.”
Yes, I jumped right in, and was well rewarded.
The Fifth Season solidifies what I’ve already learned about Jemisin’s storytelling prowess: there's intriguing concepts, solid and intricate worldbuilding, and she manages to freshen a genre that easily goes stale for me.
And this book—this series? please let it be more than a duology!—has sprung forth with all those elements that make me salivate:
- It begins with strong hooks in all three points of view.
- It has a diverse cast of complex characters with a spectrum of relationships between them, and not simply to check mark some “diversity in fiction” box, but (and this is where I get giddy) because it is integral to the plot, and lends realism to characters' motivations and reactions.
- It has such a depth to the worldbuilding that by the time I discover the appendices of terms, I don’t need them because the jargon has been so skillfully placed I’ve picked it up by context.
And the part of this book that puts me in the most awe of Jemisin’s talent—aside from the breathless run that was this unpredictable gem that will have me reading and rereading this series for years to come—is a well-wrought twist that made me put the book down and walk away for a moment in surprise because it so thoroughly blew my mind that I needed the time to reconcile the reveal. (Which she effectively sprung on me twice, by the way. And I can’t even go into detail without spoiling the entire book for any potential readers.)
So yes, I am eagerly anticipating the next installment of The Broken Earth series, and begging for it to be more than a duology. If Ms. Jemisin ever manages to find her way to JordanCon, well, I will most certainly be there to greet her in speechless, geeky adoration (in the least creepy way possible, naturally).
TL;DR: N.K. Jemisin tackles the Fantasy genre with an innovation that is intoxicating. If you like Fantasy, track down this book. You can thank me later.