This book was the Hugo Award winner for best science fiction/fantasy novel this year and was the set book in one of my book clubs. I’ve been trying to read more diversely this year and I have to say, I don’t think I have read any fantasy or science fiction by an African American writer before. This is hardly a surprise: N. K. Jemisin is the first black writer to win the Hugo Award for best novel.
“The Fifth Season” by N. K. Jemisin is the first book in “The Broken Earth Trilogy”. Set in a land beset with tectonic activity, and ironically called the Stillness, the world is ending. For Essun, the unthinkable has happened: her idyllic family life is shattered and all she can think about now is revenge. For Damaya, her family have given her up to the Fulcrum for who she is: a rogga, an orogene. Someone who can calm the shaking Earth and who must be controlled. For Syenite, it might just be her fault the world ends – whether she wants it to or not.
The thing that stands out about this book is its sheer originality. I’ve read a lot of fantasy books and I have never read a fantasy book like this one. It’s dark, it’s gritty and it’s catastrophic. Boundaries are pushed in every direction. The “magic”, the power to manipulate stone and fault lines, is just so unique I was blown away. The culture of the comms is fascinating and the sheer diversity of the characters is incredible. It’s not really a surprise that this won the Hugo Award. I think there was only one thing that got under my skin about this book and that was that some of the imagery got a little repetitive. It’s a small thing that I’m willing to forgive though for this epic book.
If you’re bored out of your mind with elves and orcs, pick this book up and read it immediately. It’s a deep, evocative read that demands you take your time, and it will linger like aftershocks after you’ve finished it.
13 responses to “The Fifth Season”
I THINK a friend of mine might have cried in public while reading this. Maybe. I’m moderately sure it was an NK Jemisin book.
I wouldn’t be surprised!
Do you mean the Hugo award for best novel? Samuel R. Delany won two Hugo awards back in the 60s (“Aye, and Gomorrah…”, 1967 and “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”, 1968).
Hi Joachim, yes I meant best novel. Thanks for pointing that out – I actually didn’t know about Samuel R. Delany!
He has many many many novels that were nominated as well — Babel-17, etc. If you want some classic SF which was also critically acclaimed from the 60s/70s. He also won numerous Nebulas, etc.
I think I’ll have to check him out. His bio is really interesting. Thanks for the tip!
Yeah, he is considered one of the early proponents of “literary” SF. A major voice in the New Wave movement of the late 60s/early 70s. Stuff like Nova (1968), Babel-17 (1966), might be the places to start as he’s quite the acquired taste…
Have fun exploring his catalogue! 🙂
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