The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin is the start of a new epic fantasy series that combines unique writing, amazing world-building, epic global conflict, and a kick-butt heroine, meaning that this is basically my new favorite series. I’m going to have to try hard not to break down into a gibbering mess during this review…. I absolutely loved The Fifth Season and I especially loved it on audio because the narrator does a fantastic job bringing these characters to life. Fans of epic fantasy should really drop everything and go get a copy of The Fifth Season immediately.
Note: I received an audio copy of The Fifth Season from the publisher. Listening to a book on audio significantly changes my reading experience.
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
Narrated by Robin Miles
(The Broken Earth)
Published by Hatchette Audio, Orbit on Aug. 4th, 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 449 pages
Audio Length: 15 hours 31 mins
How I got my copy: Publisher
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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.
- Anyone who’s read Jemisin before knows that she excels at unique writing styles to give her books an extra layer and The Fifth Season is no exception. In addition to an unreliable narrator because one is in the middle of a mental breakdown, Jemisin has that perspective in second person! That’s right, instead of “I” or “she” Jemisin uses “you” to describe Essun :D. It could have gone horribly, but it works so so so well especially on audio!
- The main magic in The Fifth Season is basically earth magic. The planet that The Fifth Season takes place on has a lot of active faults leading to earthquakes and volcanoes being pretty common, so it is quite handy that there are also people born who can stop the earth from shaking or exploding! Too bad they are treated like demons….
- Speaking of the awesome world of The Fifth Season, there’s more!!! Apparently due to the activity of this planet’s plates, there are periodically really really bad volcanic eruptions that cause volcanic winters, called fifth seasons :D. Oh and there are strange obelisks from a past civilization, creatures separate from the human race that can pass through stone, and a whole lot more going on. The world of The Fifth Season promises lots of awesomeness to be revealed throughout the series and I can’t wait!
- I listened to the audiobook of The Fifth Season and I absolutely recommend it. I’m sure that it is enjoyable to read it physically, but the narrator does such a great job of adding extra dimension to each of the characters. She does unique voices for everyone so that I could easily tell which character was speaking, but she also actually acts out the dialogue and adds emotional tones to really convey what the characters are feeling. I feel so connected to these characters now that I could never switch to just reading this series!
- I know I can count on Jemisin to include a fairly diverse cast of characters, but she really did a great job with The Fifth Season. Darker skin is the more common appearance in The Fifth Season, but in addition there is a transgender character and bisexual and gay characters. All of these characters are wonderful characters besides how they identify and their gender and sexual identities don’t define them, just are a part of them. There is also a poly family that is completely accepted :D.
- The Fifth Season opens with a huge question in the prologue of what the heck are these beings doing to the world and what is going to happen. I loved the balance of answers to that question while at the same time new questions are raised to keep us hooked for the next book.
- The beginning of The Fifth Season is genuinely confusing, especially on the audio version. There are a lot of new words to describe the magic and the world. It took me about halfway to figure out what everything actually meant, though I had a vague idea quickly. I like this sort of just throw you in world-building, but I know a lot of readers don’t, so just be aware ;-).
The Fifth Season is everything I love in a fantasy and more. If you are looking for an epic story with unique writing and a diverse cast of characters, you absolutely can’t miss The Fifth Season. Now hurry up and give me book two dammit!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.