The Fifth Season

July 4, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

seasonThe Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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Five stars is not enough for this book.

The Stillness is an alternate Earth that is plagued by seismic activity. On an irregular schedule, the Stillness erupts, sending enough ash and other debris into the air to cause a lengthy winter, known as a Fifth Season. Among the Stillness are a handful of extraordinary people known as orogenes, who can control the movements of the Stillness, either preventing such cataclysmic events or causing them. The Fifth Season takes us to the time when the largest and longest Fifth Season is just beginning.

The story revolves around three independent stories:

Essun, an orogene, has just learned her husband has murdered their son and taken theirdaughter from their village, because he learned they, too, were orogenes. She leaves on a quest to find him, not just to save her daughter, but also to kill him herself.

Daimya, a young orogene, has been taken by a Guardian to take her to the Fulcrum, where she will learn to manage her powers. The Fulcrum does not promise an easy life; orogenes who don’t learn control are removed from the Fulcrum, but are not returned to their earlier lives.

Syenite, a four-ring orogene from the Fulcrum, is sent on a journey with Alabaster, a ten-ring orogene, to help a town. Syenite doesn’t know what help they are to provide, because she is a lowly four-ringer. Along the way, it is expected for the two of them to mate in order to create another orogene. That neither of them can stand the other is immaterial, to them or to the Fulcrum.

Jemisin reveals the world of the Sanze Empire to us through each character instead of using info-dumps. She writes with an ease that belies the complexity of the story and her characters. She writes Essun’s story in the second person, which struck me as questionable, but became easier to understand as the story progressed. In the end, there’s a good reason for this choice, but it takes time to understand it. Her characters are vivid and real, their relationships honest and convincing.

The Fifth Season is a fantastic, powerful book. It requires patience, and benefits from reading it slowly and methodically, which is a challenge, since you won’t want to leave the story. I read this book over the span of about three weeks, a chapter at a time, which gave me time to consider each section and piece it together with what came before. The story will linger in your mind, like a haunting melody or a youthful memory.

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