The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

A really sad but interesting book.

Set in a world where there are regular cataclysmic events, we follow three POV’s in the lead up to the latest one and continuing on through the start of it. There are lots of rules in place to help communities and society itself survive through them which makes for an interesting world. At the heart of it are orogenes; they are people who have powers over the earth forces itself and are held responsible for the state of the world and hence are looked upon with fear and contempt.

Our main POV is Essun who has suffered a personal tragedy at the start of the book which leaves her in a numbed state for most of the book. Hers is also the furthest forward in the timeline so we witness the start of the latest cataclysm through her eyes. Hers is also told in the second person which can make for strange reading sometimes. I’m not sure whether it was used to show how she’s disassociated herself or if it was something else but it was an interesting choice to go with.

Our other POV’s Syenite and Damaya are set before the latest event and show how the world was, and the struggles and discrimination that orogenes suffered on a daily basis. Each have their own journey and through it we learn more about the world, its history and that everything might not be quite what it appears.

This is such a cool world. Like all my favourite fantasy series there feels a real depth to the history. There are mentions of previous cataclysms and there are remnants of previous civilisations all over the place like giant obelisks that hang in the sky that nobody knows what they do. It is a fairly modern world in some senses with electricity etc but due to the nature of it, it was not where you would expect it to be. There are also mentions of another race living in the world that gradually becomes more prominent as the story progresses.

It’s a bit different to ‘regular’ fantasy in that there are not really any battles etc, more just people struggling in a harsh world and trying to make the best of it. The writing is evocative without being too in your face and apart from the second person parts flows along nicely. As I mentioned the history is great and I know there is much more to show of it and how the world came to be what it is (I hope anyway!). I can see why this is mentioned a lot in relation to something a bit different and I’m looking forward to seeing where it’s all going.

4.5 stars

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