Review: The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N. K. Jemison

January 22, 2018
The Fifth Season, The Broken Earth #1, N. K. Jemison, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Orbit on August 5 2015
Format Read: Paperback Edition (468 pages)
Genre: Fantasy/ Dystopia/ Sci-fi
Series: Book One of The Broken Earth Series
Source: Purchased
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)

Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes -- those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon -- are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.



I don't read much fantasy, because the fantasy writers I've read  fall in love with their world building and muddle the character development because of it. This was a delight because the world building and character development flowed seamlessly. The journey into the Stillness leads us into polygamous relationships and relateable identity masking. The Stillness is a place where seasons can last years, The Fifth Season which is the title of this book is a terrible winter that causes drought. The people in this world have learned to adapt to these seasons. Orogenes are powerful characters who are able to manipulate the energy around them, at times causing massive earthquakes. We can all understand how isolating it feels when you're feared for being who you are. Minorities are often stereotyped and misunderstood because the unfamiliar makes people fearful. Fear is what separates us and keeps us apart even in the face of so much evidence that we are stronger together.
“For all those that have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.”
The book shifts between three main characters who each are grappling with how to control their power and find a way to control their future. In this world there are also other species who can hide themselves and secrets that kept me guessing. The world building is phenomenal and intricate in creative ways. This book explores how relationships can shape us and people can sometimes be the best resource we have. There is book also explores how ideology and political power can be harmful.
“There passes a time of happiness in your life, which I will not describe to you. It is unimportant. Perhaps you think it wrong that I dwell so much on the horrors, the pain, but pain is what shapes us, after all. We are creatures born of heat and pressure and grinding, ceaseless movement. To be still is to be… not alive.” 
While this was a grim adventure filled with tragedy I connected with this book on many emotional levels. The powerful female characters and surprising twists makes this a great start to a series. If you enjoy fantasy this book gets all of the world building right while keeping you invested in the characters. The exploration of outcast characters finding ways to survive at the end of the world makes this a book I would recommend to everybody.


Photo By Laura Hannifin, N. K. Jemison
N(ora). K. Jemisin is an author of speculative fiction short stories and novels who lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been multiply nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award; shortlisted for the Crawford, the Gemmell Morningstar, and the Tiptree; and she has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel as well as several Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Awards. In 2016, she became the first black person to win the Best Novel Hugo for The Fifth Season. In 2017, she won Best Novel again, for The Obelisk Gate. 

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