The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – Review




THE FIFTH SEASON  (The Broken Earth #1)

Author: N.K. Jemisin

Publisher: Orbit

Format: Paperback, 468 pages

Published:  August 4th 2015 

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A season of endings has begun.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy

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adri's review


This book has earned a spot amongst my most favorite books and N.K. Jemisin has quickly become one of my favorite authors.

“When we say “the world has ended,” it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine. But this is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. For the last time.”

The world-building is no doubt the best aspect of The Fifth season. I’ve never seen such depth to a setting. The premise itself is amazing and the execution is fabulous enough that the world-building is taken to a whole other level. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic earth that is constantly plagued by “seasons” or disasters of varying lengths of time that basically leave the earth near extinction and bring about tremendous changes in the setup of the world. Usually, new civilizations arise after the worst of seasons and the civilization that this books takes place in is The Sanze Empire, which has survived as long as it had because of “orogenes”. Orogenes are people with the ability to control the earth’s energy. Think earth-benders with the ability to also control water and temperature, but with focus and concentration, not fighting forms. Also with a more-fleshed out explanation of the mechanics of it. Despite their role in keeping the earth from extinction, they are very much despised and feared by the people because most have the tendency to unintentionally cause destruction when angered. This is where “Guardians” come in. Guardians are warriors and kind of mentors to the orogenes; they track down orogenes and recruit them to a school-like facility called Fulcrum. There, orogenes are taught to have more control over their abilities.


(Because Toph is bae <3)

The story unfolds masterfully. It’s told from the point-of-view of three women:

  • Essun is an orogene in hiding with two children who’ve inherited her abilities. She successfully hides their orogeney until her husband discovers the ability of her youngest, beats him to death and takes her other child. Essun then sets off on a journey to track them down and save her daughter.
  • Damaya is a young orogene who has been discovered and shunned by her own family, who then turned her in to a guardian to be recruited to Fulcrum.
  • Syenite is an orogene who has already gone through her Fulcrum training and is now under their service. She is instructed to go on a mission with a higher-level orogene and together they slowly uncover the horrifying truth of the oppression and injustice that orogenes face.

The main characters are all black and I think most of the side characters are as well. There is a ton of diversity in this book, not only when it comes to race but as to sexual orientation, gender-identification and type of relationship (there was a polyamorous relationship towards the middle that messed with my heartstrings) as well. It was a breath fresh air. One of the best things about this book is just how much it draws on real-life social issues, especially when it comes to race. The way orogenes are treated, the stereotypes they are subjected to and even the racial slurs (“rogga”) they are pelted with…it’s an awful parallel to what real-world groups of people have faced and still face today.

“For all those that have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.”

This is only the surface of the story; there is so much more to it and I can’t possibly condense it for you. I was so immersed while reading this, wanting to know more about the seasons, the history, the cultures and the characters. These characters were so well fleshed-out; I cried, laughed and sympathized with them. They all felt so real. Even the side-characters were lovable. There were twists and turns that completely messed with my mind and made me gape at the pages. The writing is just so good and so fitting for the dark, grim setting. Overall, The Fifth Season, with it’s gruesome and cruel world, the absolutely beautiful writing and amazing cast of characters, is a must-read for lovers of fantasy and supporters of diverse reads in SFF.


about author


N.K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin lives and works in New York City.
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3 thoughts on “The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – Review

  1. Nice review, Adri! I’ve been wanting to read this book forever, and I can’t believe all this time I didn’t know that it had intersectional characters (POC and LGBT) and that it was Own Voices. How could I not know that!! Omg, this makes me even more excited to read this one! Thank you for the great review!


    1. Thank you ❤ I'm sure you won't be disappointed. It's such a great book! All those aspects are what drove me to read it but believe me when I say you'll get even more than that; the diversity and representation in this book is A+ Happy reading!!

      Liked by 1 person

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