The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1)
By: N.K. Jemisin
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
I finally read this book!!! The Fifth Season has long been on my TBR queue–up there with her Inheritance trilogy–but it was always pushed off by other books on the queue. I finally picked up the other two books in the trilogy last year which I figured was a signal that it’s time to read it lol. And here we finally are…May contain some mild spoilers ahead!
I have to say, the way this book’s narrative was structured with the three storylines which later converged was pretty darn clever. I had no inkling as to how the storylines were going to intersect so when they did, I was (pleasantly–in terms of the realization of how the stories intersected; felt bad for a particular character) surprised. It’s an interesting way to tell a story but it also informs a lot about a character’s experiences.
The world-building is fantastic, there’s a real sense of danger that exists in this world, the environment itself a real danger to the people populating this world, informs the way these societies live. But the divisions that exist between peoples was also interesting and sad how orgenes are treated. I admit there were some really freaky moments in this book: the obelisks are terrifyingly ominous, as are how some of the orogenes are used to man some of the stations, the abilities they hold, the dangers they encounter using their abilities, the Guardians O_O
There’s obviously a lot going on in this novel, conspiracies to uncover, strange happenings to figure out, abilities to uncover…And of course the initial premise of the novel, that of a mother trying to find her daughter and mourning the loss of her son. Unfortunately that gets pushed to the backdrop the further Essun travels and comes across more orogenes and communities as the Season changes…
Overall I really enjoyed The Fifth Season. The world-building was impeccable and I was invested in the story and the characters, broken and struggling as they were. The only reason I didn’t give it full 5 stars was because the school storyline for Damaya sort of left me impatient, even if it did explain further how orogenes were trained (I mentioned it before but I’m so done with the magical school setting). Anyway I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the trilogy!