The Fifth Season

By N. K. Jemisin,

Book cover of The Fifth Season

Book description

At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this "intricate and extraordinary" Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution. (The New York Times)

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts…

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Why read it?

24 authors picked The Fifth Season as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I simply couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages–Jemisin created SUCH an immersive world filled with complicated characters and a riveting plot. I needed to devour it. It was hard to take breaks, even though it chilled me to the bone (there are a few disturbing scenes that will forever be imprinted in my brain).

This book has several narrators, and each one is equally incredible. I almost never feel that way; there's usually at least one character who I wish we would skip. It's fantasy, but the issues explored are very, very real. It helped me connect to…

This book has a bit of an edge, and I needed it. While I tend to prefer a bit of comfort and cozy, this was raw and shattered in a way that I found reassuring.

I was going through a lot of loss in my life, and the characters in this book were gripping the shreds of their broken world with every finger. I needed their strength. They were survivors.

The brutal landscape, the unyielding honesty, and the struggle within this book all told me I wasn't alone. It wasn't full of hope or platitudes, but it helped anyway.

The Fifth Season showcases a great new voice and a great new world in speculative fiction.

The story opens on a broken Earth where some monstrous calamity befell the planet in the distant past, a calamity that somehow involves the core of the Earth. Life today is dystopic and repressive, bound up in systems of control. These control systems are mostly designed to manage the “orogenes”—humans who are endowed with the ability to create or subdue earthquakes. The orogenes inspire fear, envy, and covetousness among others, and an oppressive empire has refined its ability to keep them subdued and obedient.…

This Hugo Award-winning novel has one of the most original stories I’ve read that revolves around a remarkable mother, Essun.

While Essun pretends to be ordinary, she is an orogene, a race of humans with the ability to significantly alter her environment. As a result, the orogenes are wretched exiles, feared by society and trapped in a governing system that seeks to control them.

I was immediately taken with Essun’s emotional journey as the story opens with the loss of her child. She wants to live a quiet life with her family but is pursued by officials who cannot allow…

Look, Jemisin won the Hugo for this and for good reason.

The first page will punch you in the gut, grab you by the collar, and drag you into the rest of the story. (That first page may also make you cry.) Like Harmon's story, there's an element (pun intended) of geology.

Or many elements: the earth, you see, is brokensome cataclysm, some collapse, has happened, and the world itself is dying. Orogenesgeomancers, basicallycan both tame and aggravate the unquiet geology.

So of course they're feared, rounded up, and enslaved for everyone's safety, and…

The Broken Earth trilogy, of which The Fifth Season is the first book, three-peated at the Hugo Awards, for good reason. Jemisin masterfully weaves the tale of Essun, Damaya, and Syenite, ostensibly unconnected orogenes, a class of people capable of controlling the titanic tectonic forces at play in a world wracked by geological destruction. Because of their immense power—and the fact that they sometimes unintentionally kill living things when angry—orogenes are distrusted by wider society, and shackled in a number of literal and figurative ways. Essun in particular must deal with the grief and trauma of her past actions and…

From Katrina's list on characters who don’t trust themselves.

N.K. Jemisin has created a classic in the making with The Fifth Season. We enter a world quite similar to ours today in terms of injustice, prejudice, stereotypes, and the foundations of hatred that have seeded their way into systemic power structures of society when it comes to race. The elements of high fantasy accompanied with Jemisin’s expressive writing are a guaranteed page-turner and will have you connected to characters like Damaya, Syenite, and Essun as they navigate, grow, and rise above the various obstacles in this story. It is dark, it is real, and it is phenomenal. 

Essun appears to be an ordinary middle-aged woman living a quiet life, but that life is a lie; she is an orogene, someone who can manipulate the physical world. If she is found out, she could be exiled, imprisoned, or killed. But she may be the only one who can stop the extinction event that is threatening the Earth. Essun is also carrying another secret, one that is eating away at her soul. Jemison’s take on the heroine's journey shows us that motherhood may be the greatest trial one can ever face and the source of real courage.

As a writer of speculative fiction myself, I have been on a quest to find those writers who are able to not only construct complex and multi-layered worlds, but tell their stories with words so controlled and… well… beautiful that the surprises and delights not only come from the thrill of plot twists, but on the actual sentence level as well. N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy, and specifically book one, The Fifth Season, does exactly this. From the very first sentence “You are she. She is you. You are Essun.” We plummet into the chaos and terror of a…

The term “post-apocalyptic” is a bit of a contradiction, since “apocalypse” traditionally means the end of everything; nothing comes after. Perhaps then “post-apocalyptic” mirrors one of the oldest human impulses, the drive to continuously examine the limits of our existence, or maybe it reveals a newer development in our collective thinking, to better comprehend the social and environmental changes we are experiencing globally. N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is an intricate example of civilizations recreating themselves anew, after not one but multiple, reoccurring seasons of apocalypses. Each apocalypse impacts the ancient lore of the world as well, illuminating how mythologies…

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