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The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth) Paperback – August 4, 2015
Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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"Intricate and extraordinary."―The New York Times
"[The Fifth Season is] an ambitious book, with a shifting point of view, and a protagonist whose full complexity doesn't become apparent till toward the end of the novel. ... Jemisin's work itself is part of a slow but definite change in sci-fi and fantasy."―Guardian
"Astounding... Jemisin maintains a gripping voice and an emotional core that not only carries the story through its complicated setting, but sets things up for even more staggering revelations to come."―NPR Books
"Jemisin's graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world."―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"A must-buy...breaks uncharted ground."―Library Journal (starred review)
"Jemisin might just be the best world builder out there right now.... [She] is a master at what she does."―RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)
"The Fifth Season is a powerful, epic novel of discovery, pain, and heartbreak.... It is a novel that demands much of its readers; it rewards them aplenty and is one of those novels that becomes more powerful after deep consideration and subsequent readings."―SFF World
"This is an intense, exciting novel, where survival is always on the line, set in a fascinating, original and dangerous world with an intriguing mystery at the heart of it. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book!"―Martha Wells
"Brilliant...gorgeous writing and unexpected plot twists."―Washington Post
"[A]ngrily, beautifully apocalyptic."―B&N.com
"Heartbreaking, wholly unexpected, and technically virtuosic, The Fifth Season is a tour-de-force. I felt every shock--and the book is packed with them--in my marrow. It's no exaggeration to say that Jemisin expands the range of what great fantasy can be."―Brian Staveley, author of The Emperor's Blades
"With every new work, Jemisin's ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows."―Kirkus (starred review)
About the Author
N. K. Jemisin is a Brooklyn author who won Hugo Awards for Best Novel for both The Obelisk Gate and The Fifth Season, which was also a New York Times Notable Book of 2015. She previously won the Locus Award for her first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and her short fiction and novels have been nominated multiple times for Hugo, World Fantasy, Nebula, and RT Reviewers' Choice awards, and shortlisted for the Crawford and the James Tiptree, Jr. awards. She is a science fiction and fantasy reviewer for the New York Times, and you can find her online at nkjemisin.com.
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Even though I enjoy a good Tolkein-esque fantasy, it's so refreshing to read Jemisin's writing, which always takes a fresh departure from the pseudo-medevial-Europe settings so common in the genre. Rather than elves and orcs and plundering armies, Jemisin gives us orogenes (those gifted with the ability to control geological forces), stone-eaters (non-humans who can move through solid rock with their own, mysterious agenda), and a continent that is a greater threat to its people than any army. Whether the strict, caste-driven, xenophobic society that has evolved in response to the environment is a necessary evil or a regime to be overthrown is an argument that will likely span the entire trilogy.
"The Fifth Season" could be considered part of the vein of SF/F that addresses environmental and climate change issues (e.g. Nicola Griffith's "Slow River," Paolo Bacigalupe's "The Windup Girl") but in this trilogy, change is inevitable and largely beyond human control. The book builds toward several narrative twists slowly revealed in its final third; I had picked up on enough very subtle hints to suspect some of them, but they still came into focus with a satisfying emotional "click" that made me glad I waited and didn't stumble across any spoilers. I was so captivated by the narrative that I literally woke up in the night wanting to read more (thanks, insomnia! thanks, book light!). Waiting for the next two chapters leaves me feeling as unsettled as the world of The Stillness itself.
She tells her story by alternating perspectives between three characters, each with a different piece to a puzzle that comes together beautifully by the end. Readers that are paying close attention will probably be able to snuff out the twists that Jemisin carefully lays the foundation for, but it's no less satisfying once they are finally revealed. I have already purchased the next two books in the series and look forward to seeing where the story goes from here!
Along the lines of Magaret Atwood, structures of society thinking that they are maintaining and protecting often repress. The potential and dangers within the individual determine the outcome of freedom for themselves and others.
Along the lines of Stanislaw Lem, life and the spiritual is not always understandable through the lens of the anthropomorphic. Just because a great and terrible system is not like us or easy to comprehend does not mean it is without beauty or deep relevance beyond our own need to survive.
If you've ever felt like an outsider, this book will resonate. Thank you, Ms. Jemesin, for another great read!