Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Fifth Season Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: N.K. Jemisin
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Broken Earth Book One
Pages: 512

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The original transcript of this review has been lost. Click here for more info.

The following is a re-write of the original review.

In a land called the Stillness earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis rain hell down on the inhabitants that are spread across its lands. A Fifth Season occurs when these natural disasters occur on a cataclysmic scale. Civilizations rise and rise again only to be destroyed. It's this unpredictable destruction that leaves everyone in terror of their planet.

Orogenes are the so called "witches and wizards" of this story. They have the ability to sense the planets seismic waves, and if they're powerful enough they can stop many of the planets forms of destruction. Unfortunately for them they are despised and feared by the common folk, and many are killed before they can even be found and properly trained at the Orogene temple.

The Fifth Season introduces three Orogenes that serve as narrators. Essun is a woman living in a small mountain town when a new Fifth Season begins. It's during this destructive time that she discovers her husband has killed her son for discovering he was an orogene, and he's kidnapped her daughter and taken flight. Essun prepares to abandon her home and get her daughter back.

Damaya is a young girl who's sold to a Guardian to be given to the Orogene temple. Guardians are immune to the powers of Orogenes and are used to keep them in line, which is something they do quite ruthlessly. Damaya begins to learn how to use her new found power, while discovering just how much the world she lives in hates her.

Syenite is a four-ringer at the Orogene temple. She's recently been assigned to apprentice under a ten-ringer named Alabaster who's been slowly losing his mind. Syenite is also tasked with having his child. The two of them are forced in romance-less journey to the outskirts of the Stillness where they need to fix a harbor who's entrance has been blocked.

Character development is Jemisin's strongest suit. Syenite and Damaya both made a very powerful impression on me in the early going, while I struggled initially to understand Essun. This was largely due to her being in second person, and that's a very personal viewpoint. Fortunately the choice to use second person eventually made sense, and led to some of the most powerful and emotional parts of the story.

The Fifth Season is the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy. I've wanted to read Jemisin's work for a long time, I've had a copy of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms sitting on my shelf for awhile, but I haven't been able to squeeze time in to read it. So when I heard she was doing a new trilogy I decided to jump aboard and I'm glad I did. This is a great read for anyone who appreciates great character development and a nifty bit of worldbuilding and magic.

Score: 9.7

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