The Fifth Season: Stunning imagination

Editor’s update: The Fifth Season won the 2016 Hugo Award.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin fantasy book reviewsThe Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I am awestricken by the imagination of N.K. Jemisin, but it isn’t just her wild vision of a seismically turbulent planet that makes The Fifth Season so successful. Jemisin depicts her strange and harrowing world through the old-fashioned tools of fine writing and hard work, done so well that it looks easy – transparent – to the reader.

The world of The Fifth Season, or at least one large continent of it, is shaking apart. Against this backdrop we follow three different stories set in three different time periods, one in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe, two sometime earlier. The three storylines have themes and plot points that eventually converge, but the changes in narration let us as readers put together clues and see what’s going on even before some of the characters do.

On this unstable continent, people called orogenes – rogga is a vulgar pejorative – have the ability to control earth tremors and volcanic hot-spots. Instead of being revered, most orogenes are hated and feared by people, because their power is instinctual. A young, untrained orogene, or one who feels threatened, can instantly kill people around them, and by unconsciously reaching for a fault line or a “hot spot,” can create seismic disturbance. Orogenes are trained at the Empire’s capital city, Yumenes, in a place called the Fulcrum. It’s aptly named.

Syenite is a trained orogene who gets paired with a very strange mentor named Alabaster for a mission on the coast. Through Syenite we begin to see what has really happened to this trembling planet, and we learn of the origin of the Fulcrum, the orogenes, and their terrifying Guardians.

I thought the endings of two of the stories rushed a bit at the finish, and one character returned in a different guise in a way I found implausible, but Jemisin has created a genuine world and genuine people – human and non-human –with their own goals, desires and fears. Against a backdrop of basic survival she sets up a futuristic science fiction premise that only looks like fantasy at first; she explores social models and oppression in an unflinchingly honest way, and she uses one of my personal favorite tropes, the folk tales, the apocryphal scriptures that have been written out of the orthodox texts, and which provide glimpses of the truth.

By the end, we’ve begun to see what has happened, if not why. The story ends well poised for the second book.

I didn’t think anyone could make a second-person narrator (“you”) work for an extended length of time. It’s a testament to Jemisin’s skill and concentration that I barely noticed it here, even though one whole storyline is narrated that way. I’m reminded what a great writer Jemisin is, and I’m left eagerly wanting to read the next book.

~Marion Deeds


The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin fantasy book reviewsSometimes I’d rather write a review for a book I didn’t like than for a book that I loved. It’s often easier to enumerate a novel or short story’s flaws, or authorial missteps, and to clearly and concisely discuss why it didn’t resonate with me. But when I first read The Fifth Season, I was stunned. Flabbergasted. Somehow, N.K. Jemisin wrote an extraordinary fantasy novel which has tremendous wide-spread appeal while matching precisely with my particular interests, and she doesn’t know me from Eve. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted a novel like this to be written until I read it, and corralling my rambling, wide-eyed enthusiasm into coherent thoughts has been more than a little difficult. My apologies.

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 Fifth Season begins when a man breaks a continent, The Stillness, in half. Please understand that this is not hyperbole: he reaches within himself to access an unimaginable level of power and opens up a fault line in the earth. A glorious city vanishes, volcanoes explode, the sky fills with smoke which blots out the sun, and ash coats every possible surface. (Readers who lived in the northwestern U.S. or southwestern Canada after Mount Saint Helens erupted in 1980 will have a special appreciation for a small fraction of this continent-blanketing devastation.) Who the man is, not to mention how or why he would do such a thing, will become clear as the novel progresses, but this is not exclusively his story.

In the world of The Stillness, some people are born with an innate ability to shake or subdue the ground beneath their feet. Politely, they are orogenes; impolitely, rogga. When their abilities manifest, they are taken to the Fulcrum in the Imperial capitol city of Yumenes, a prison/school where they are taught to harness their skills in service to the Empire. Those who fail, or who cannot adequately control themselves, receive horrible punishment from which there is no escape or protection. It doesn’t matter how many fancy clothes or pretty rings you put on someone; slavery is slavery. Forced breeding programs and drugged imprisonment are the iron fist inside the Empire’s velvet glove, and refusal to play nice inevitably results in severe and swift consequences. Willing cooperation is welcome, but not required.

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; Death is the fifth, and master of all.
— Arctic proverb

Narrative duties are split between three women at different stages of life: Essun, Damaya, and Syenite. Essun’s chapters are told via 2nd-person narration (“You are she. She is you.”) while Damaya and Syenite’s stories are delivered via the more traditional 3rd-person. I’m generally not a fan of 2nd-person, but Jemisin uses it well, creating intimacy between the reader and Essun. Her grief as she cradles her murdered toddler, and her desperate search for her missing daughter among the ruins of The Stillness, become palpable for the reader. Essun’s chapters are set in the aftermath of the cataclysm; Damaya and Syenite live in unspecified years before the cataclysm. The entirety of The Fifth Season is written in present tense, bringing urgency and immediacy for every action and event, as well as providing tension between the brevity of human lives and the vastness of time on a planetary and geological scale.

Damaya is an orogene child on her way to the Fulcrum. Her chapters reveal what life is like at the Fulcrum, the toll such a life would take on a person, and reveal hints at the world and technologies which existed before the Empire. Curious and powerful, Damaya will grow into a force to be reckoned with. Syenite is a young Fulcrum-trained woman chafing against the politics and etiquette which are required if she hopes to ascend the ranks of power allotted to her kind. She is assigned two tasks: officially, she must discern the cause of and clear a harbor blockage in a coastal town, and unofficially, she has to breed with Alabaster, the mentor who will accompany her on the official aspect of her mission. Alabaster is powerful, angry, and looking for a way to escape the Fulcrum’s clutches. Essun is a middle-aged woman living in a small village, Tirimo, teaching at the crèche and hiding her orogene nature from the townspeople. After the world is broken, she journeys southward, accompanied by a boy who would seem to be made of living stone. Each character is a distinct individual unto themselves, with their own mannerisms and speech habits, and the way these storylines converge and affect one another came as a complete surprise to me.

This world and its people are very much alive and fully realized, from their daily diets to the societal caste system, from the variations in climate and geography to the millennia of history leading into this Season and all the known and unknown Seasons which came before. The map at the beginning of the book and the glossary at the end only piqued my interest further: I want to know more about the stone obelisks which float in the sky, the Seasons which came and went (and why this one is different); I want to know whether any of this has happened before and why it keeps happening. Highlight here for a potential spoiler: [begin spoiler] Also, I want to know how not having a moon factors into the strange tectonic activity which plagues The Stillness (and why there isn’t a moon, and if there was, where it went). [end spoiler] And I haven’t even touched on Jemisin’s clever, accurate depictions of the environmental impact of a rent in the earth, or the sensitive way she handles issues of race and sexuality and gender, or the astonishing concept of coastal pirates and the allure of freedom, or the epigrams from “stonelore” which conclude each chapter. The Stillness is as real and vibrant, as complex and awful, as wonderful and sad, as a reader could possibly ask for.

While it’s the first installment of three, The Fifth Season is remarkably self-contained. Reading it is rather like listening to an excellent album on repeat; the end informs the beginning, and reading the Prologue immediately after finishing the last chapter enriched my understanding of everything that had happened up to the very last, startling sentence. If I were to only read one book this year, and it were The Fifth Season, I’d be perfectly content. That this is just the first installment of a planned trilogy, THE BROKEN EARTH, is welcome news. This is a book which will reward multiple re-reads in order to fully appreciate Jemisin’s wordplay, her ear for natural dialogue, the small details which come alive as you come to understand who and when and why. Waiting for the next book will not be easy, but if you think about time in geological terms, next year may as well be now. And “now” isn’t too long to wait for the apocalypse.

~Jana Nyman


The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin fantasy book reviewsIf you’re tired of the same old, same old high fantasy, then N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season should be the next thing on your to-read list.

The first installment of Jemisin’s THE BROKEN EARTH trilogy brings us to The Stillness, a continent periodically besieged by disaster, so much so that its residents are prepared at any time to endure the next “season,” a period of chaos and turmoil in which the traditional ecosystems and cycles of the planet are upended and civilizations destroyed. The people of The Stillness are at best sturdy, hardworking, and grudgingly cooperative — at worst, they are uncouth, callous, and unflinchingly paranoid. Only a few of these people in particular are of interest: Essun, a middle-aged woman who in the exposition of The Fifth Season discovers her child slain at the hands of her husband; Syenite, an ambitious woman and orogene (magician) who is sent on a high-profile mission to a coastal city; and Damaya, a young girl and orogene-in-training in Yumenes, the center of civilization. Three very different women, three very different locations combine to create one very, very unconventional story.

I don’t quite know where to start to describe Jemisin’s breakaway from “traditional” fantasy. The setting, for one, is unexpected — a world beset by regular catastrophe with a prologue introducing the last catastrophe in The Stillness’s long history, a natural disaster to end all natural disasters. The world building is unique as well: rather than the ivory-tower, highly educated societies present in much high fantasy, the people of The Stillness are almost all uneducated from what I gleaned from The Fifth Season. In fact, survival is such an extreme priority that academia is nearly universally spurned — the history of The Stillness lays shrouded in mystery, as the attitude towards past civilizations are that, seeing as they failed to survive in this harsh world and no longer exist, there is nothing to be learned from them, no enlightenment to be found in studying them. The dominant skin-color in The Stillness isn’t white, it’s dark, because societies placed on the equator tend to flourish more, which led to their slow conquest of the modern world.

Moreover, Jemisin has completely upended traditional magic systems in The Fifth Season. Instead of magicians being not powerful enough, magicians are too powerful. Magic here is the ability to control the elements, energy, the environment. Lower-ranked orogenes are the ones who can accomplish only large tasks, the ones who don’t have the control to channel their power and manipulate the minute; higher-level orogenes can influence both large and small areas, with one in particular who’s able to move molecules themselves. And speaking of orogenes, did I mention that [highlight to read this spoiler] they’re the ones who cause natural disasters in The Stillness in the first place? It’s for this reason that magic is despised and feared rather than loved and respected. [end spoiler] Orogenes are so dangerous, in fact, that they are each assigned a Guardian tasked with deterring them from engaging in potentially risky behavior. Guardians are sometimes authorized to kill to prevent calamity from occurring. It’s an interesting philosophical stance on human nature: the stereotypical Enlightenment view of human nature that presents humanity as good, perfectible, educable is replaced with a soberer, depressing view of inherently evil people who must be controlled. Couple that with the dark tone and the dismal setting, and the end result is quite gloomy. So if you’re into light, happy novels, stay away!

Now, I need to note that The Fifth Season’s unusualness is by no means a bad thing — in fact, everything discussed above is really just part of what draws me to Jemisin’s work. The philosophical aspects of The Fifth Season were exceptional, at least for me. I also truly enjoyed the depth of Jemisin’s characters, especially since Essun’s account is told is second person — unusual, as I mentioned, yet extremely effective at making the reader become emotionally invested in the plot. It took me a few chapters to acclimatize to the second person, but once I did, I found Essun’s narrative pensive and engaging. Refer also to Jana’s review for more about the literary devices in The Fifth Season. Jemisin’s ability to create distinct voices between her protagonists while still maintaining some similarities was highly appreciated as well, and the world building was unique and unforgettable.

Unfortunately, I did find some faults with The Fifth Season. For one thing, I simply don’t know what to do with the high levels of darkness and tragedy in this book. There’s a healthy dose of realism here, which is nice, but the stark grimness in The Fifth Season is almost too much for me. Sometimes, it just seems as if [highlight to read this spoiler] everything that could go wrong will go wrong, everything wicked about humanity will manifest itself, as if the entire novel was predestined for disaster with almost no joyful memories. [end spoiler] On top of that, I had significant issues with the pacing. While I do see the internal, personal, and local conflicts in the exposition, large swathes of the middle portions of the book felt slow to me. Maybe I’m just too used to the sword-and-sorcery sort of novel with politics and intrigue, physical violence, and glory in battle, but I feel that there needed to be more action and suspense in The Fifth Season. It wasn’t quite a deal breaker since by the first few chapters I was already too embroiled in the mysteries of The Stillness to let it go, but I would definitely be grateful for more action in the middle.

So overall, I’m a bit confused what to think of this book — on one hand, N. K. Jemisin’s technical achievements are amazing; on the other hand, at least one of those feats didn’t quite work for me. So I guess my conclusion for now is that if you share my tastes — grimdark, blackpowder, New Weird, sword-and-sorcery, military fantasy, and perhaps more “traditional” fantasy than I’m willing to admit — begin The Fifth Season with a few reservations. If you decide you like it, gleefully and painfully wait for the sequels, which I will be doing. If our tastes don’t quite converge, go all in because I promise you will enjoy yourself immensely.

~Kevin Wei


The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin fantasy book reviewsThis book really blew me away. An earth-shattering accomplishment, incredibly impressive and deeply satisfying. Not only that, but it’s just the first part of THE BROKEN EARTH trilogy. I don’t usually read series, but I have no problem waiting for the next two installments. I had read so many rave reviews of N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, including by fellow reviewers at FanLit, that I HAD to move it to the top of my sprawling TBR list. And I was not disappointed at all. In fact, the story delivered such delicious reveals in the last 50-100 pages that I listened to it again without hesitation. The audiobook narrator, Robin Miles, does an excellent job of bringing the large cast of characters to life, and has a knowing tone that tells me she relishes the story as well. This is one of those books you enjoy the first time through, but gain a whole new level of understanding of the second time around.

From the outset, Jemisin teases us with a cryptic intro by an unidentified narrator who casually drops tantalizing hints about the story to come. She then introduces us to her three intertwined story arcs, and I willingly went along with the carefully-placed details that slowly revealed the scope of this incredibly original world known as the Stillness. Jemisin is an incredible writer, and you can immediately recognize the complete control she has over structure, foreshadowing, character, tone, physical and psychological details, intersecting plot-lines, pacing — basically everything. It’s the first book I’ve read of hers, but certainly won’t be the last. From what I understand, her writing has gotten better with each book, and that bodes well for the series.

We are introduced to the empire of Sanze and its capital city, Yumenes. The Stillness, ironically, is a world that has been repeatedly shattered by violent geological forces for tens of thousands of years, destroying unnumbered civilizations and leaving the survivors to pick up the pieces and claw for survival in each aftermath. Thus the title refers to the Fifth Season (after the standard four) in which the world ends, again and again.

The details of Jemisin’s world are incredibly rich and meticulously described. Even for a seasoned fantasy or science fiction reader, it is astonishing that she can shape such an original world, complete with a new system of supernatural powers, in which geological forces can be controlled by specially-gifted (or cursed) individuals known as ‘orogenes’. Because they wield such great power and often struggle to control it, especially when they are young, they are feared by Stills (normal people) and known by the derogative term ‘rogga’. So already we have a dynamic in which the most powerful and volatile members of the Stillness are also its most hated and feared.

Amid generations of rising and falling civilizations, Sanze has survived repeatedly by harnessing the power of the orogenes to suppress dangerous geological and seismic activity. They have established a formal school called the Fulcrum that raises orogenes and teaches them to control their powers, while also finding and recruiting ‘wild’ orogenes who often are a threat to their own communities when they discover their powers. In order to keep orogenes in check, the Fulcrum is run by mysterious but powerful Guardians who can guide and (if necessary) negate the powers of the orogenes.

The first of the three story arcs centers on Essun, a middle-aged woman who teaches in the small town of Tirimo. From the opening sentence, she is faced with a crushing tragedy. For reasons unknown, her young son has been killed by her husband, who has then fled with her daughter to parts unknown. With hardly any time for grief, Essun must leave as the villagers suspect she has some connection to a massive seismic event that has happened recently, cracking the continent. Her story is one of loss, grief, and harsh circumstances, and is told in the second person, a narrative device rarely used that works well here to increase the immediacy of her emotional world. We also learn a host of details about the world of the Stillness as she journeys on the road, trying to track down her murderous husband. Along the way she acquires two companions who will play crucial parts in her story and probably the upcoming volumes as well (no details, don’t want to spoil anything). Again, I have to praise to Jemisin for effortlessly forwarding the story while fleshing out her world. Too many authors devote hundreds of pages to introducing characters and places while absolutely nothing occurs plot-wise.

We are then introduced to a young girl named Damaya in the second story arc. When she awakens to her powers as an orogene, she knows she will not be particularly welcome in her little town. So it is fortunate when a Guardian called Schaffa comes for her. He seems kindly and concerned for her welfare, but there is an underlying sense of menace beneath this friendly exterior. He makes it clear that her talents are valuable to Sanze, but only if properly controlled. He brings her to the capital city of Yumenes and the Fulcrum, the training facility and base of the orogenes. While this may resemble other fantasy wizard-in-training tales like Hogwarts in HARRY POTTER or Kvothe’s tale in The Name of the Wind, her character is differentiated enough to keep it interesting. Here we learn more about the world of the orogenes, their powers and limitations, and the role of the Guardians. She too meets a companion that will play an unexpected role later in the story. None of the plot details in the book are wasted — they all lay the groundwork for future events.

Finally, we meet Syenite, a young and promising orogene with 4 rings (think 4th level) who is paired with a vastly senior orogene named Alabaster, a 10-ringer. His powers are vast, but he is deeply bitter, sarcastic, and unhappy with his life. He is essentially a slave to the Fulcrum and Empire, a powerful servant with no say in his assignments. It is through his eyes that we see the dark side of the orogene system, which brooks no dissent and forces orogenes to sublimate all personal desires in favor of controlling geological forces to prevent disaster. Although Stills supposedly appreciate the efforts of orogenes, they cannot hide the fear and disdain they have for orogeny. We learn that Syenite has two roles: officially she is assigned to assist Alabaster with unblocking the harbor of a city called Aliyah, but her unofficial duty is to mate with Alabaster and produce more orogenes for the Fulcrum. Jemisin doesn’t shy away from the awkward sexual details of two intelligent people being ‘bred’ like prize livestock. The themes of discrimination, power and oppression are front and center here.

Syenite and Alabaster discover in their seemingly routine job some very unsettling things that drive the plot forward. We also learn more about the mysterious obelisks that quietly float in the air throughout the Stillness. Relics of past civilizations, their purpose is unknown, but there are hidden powers lurking in them. Since this is a trilogy, Jemisin is free to reveal little tidbits of info, leaving our curiosity piqued. There’s no question they will play a central role in the tale later on.

Too many things happen to Syenite and Alabaster to detail here, and that would spoil your enjoyment. Suffice to say that in the last 100 pages we are treated to an ever-expanding set of revelations that tie all three of the story-arcs together and show us just how masterfully and smoothly Jemisin has been building her story. It’s really impressive, especially because each story is interesting as a stand-alone, but become so much more vibrant when you understand the underlying connections. Oftentimes books have big surprises at the end, but they are sometimes forced or clumsily revealed. Here we see exactly how the story has been carefully constructed without letting on what is coming up.

Suffice to say that it was truly a pleasure to get to know Jemisin’s work and the world of the Stillness. She writes from a very personal level — the character’s emotional lives are raw and complex. In addition, the volcanic world of the Stillness mirrors the upheavals that happen to each of the characters in the story. There are repeated motifs of the beginning and ending of civilizations, worlds, and personal lives. The book also delves heavily into environmental issues, particularly geological changes, but also climate change and damage to the natural world. That’s an element that resonates more with today’s readers. There are also some enticing hints that this story will have more SF elements than in future volumes. I’m intrigued to find out where Jemisin plans to take us next, and eagerly await the next installment.

~Stuart Starosta


The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin fantasy book reviewsI’m in agreement with my colleagues here. I loved the freshness of this fantasy, though the word “fresh” seems odd for something so relentlessly grim. This story would have been perfect for me if it had lightened up for just a few moments. A glint of humor or hope perhaps? Nonetheless, very imaginative and I can’t wait to see where the story goes.

~Kat Hooper

Publication date: August 4, 2015. THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. FOR THE LAST TIME. 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. A new fantasy trilogy by Hugo, Nebula & World Fantasy Award nominated author N.K. Jemisin.

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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but now makes her home in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisin, and Seanan McGuire.

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KEVIN WEI, with us since December 2014, is a Math-Stat and Economics major at Columbia University. Secretly, Kevin has always believed in dragons. Not the Smaug kind of dragon, only the friendly ones that invite you in for tea (a href="http://www.fantasyliterature.com/fantasy-author/funkecornelia">Funke’s Dragon Rider was the story that mercilessly hauled him into the depths of SF/F at the ripe old age of 5). Kevin loves epic fantasy, military SF/F, New Weird, and some historical fantasy; some of his favorite authors include Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, Django Wexler, and Joe Abercrombie. In his view, a good book requires not only a good character set and storyline, but also beautiful prose — he's extremely particular about this last bit. Outside of his SF/F life, Kevin loves politics, the startup lyfe, non-fiction, and more. You can find him at: kevinlwei.com

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STUART STAROSTA, on our staff from March 2015 to November 2018, is a lifelong SFF reader who makes his living reviewing English translations of Japanese equity research. Despite growing up in beautiful Hawaii, he spent most of his time reading as many SFF books as possible. After getting an MA in Japanese-English translation in Monterey, CA, he lived in Tokyo, Japan for about 15 years before moving to London in 2017 with his wife, daughter, and dog named Lani. Stuart's reading goal is to read as many classic SF novels and Hugo/Nebula winners as possible, David Pringle's 100 Best SF and 100 Best Fantasy Novels, along with newer books & series that are too highly-praised to be ignored. His favorite authors include Philip K Dick, China Mieville, Iain M. Banks, N.K. Jemisin, J.G. Ballard, Lucius Shepard, Neal Stephenson, Kurt Vonnegut, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Robert Silverberg, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. LeGuin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mervyn Peake, etc.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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16 comments

  1. Jesslyn H /

    I literally yelled “Holy crap” when I finished. It was so good.

    I loved The Inheritance trilogy and the start to this series is better than the start of that one. I see so much growth as a writer in the comparison and am looking forward to reading Jemisin’s books for many years to come.

    • Right?? That last sentence…oh, it’s killer. As series-beginners go, this book is really fantastic. I’m so glad you liked it!

  2. I’ve had two close GR friends raving about this book for the last few weeks, demanding that I read it. When I saw it on Audible for $4.95 (sale ends Sep 20th), I snapped it up. I’m normally a SF reader, but I will make time for this one. Great review Jana, though I deliberately skipped the middle paragraphs to avoid any spoilers.

  3. I grabbed this at the Audible sale, too. Can’t wait to read it.

  4. I actually need to stop browsing FanLit because I am buying more books than I will ever realistically be able to read. Your enthusiasm for this one is obviously infectious, Jana! One more book on the shelf can’t hurt…

  5. I bought this when it came out but I just put it on the stack. I guess it just jumped to the head of the line.

    • I hope you get a chance to read it soon! I’m desperate for someone else to talk to about Things That Happen and how the characters are developed. :)

  6. If enough of us plan to read it soon, should we do a Book Discussion since Jana has already reviewed it?

    • That’s not a bad idea, but I think that would depend on when people get to the book and have a chance to read it. A discussion is worth keeping in mind for some point in the future, though!

  7. not sure I can keep putting this one off . . .

  8. Celene W. /

    I love this, too, so amazing!

  9. N.K. Jemisin is one of science fiction’s biggest authors whose popularity continues to grow. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy is a MUST READ for ALL readers regardless of its genre. Jemisin, like other sci-fi authors, incorporates social issues of both the past and the present with scientific theories and scientific facts that make her work more comprehensible for her readers.

    I enjoyed this novel for several reasons: the complexity of the characters who are struggling with both external and internal conflicts, narrative and the plot of the story itself, the gripping and the gruesome society the author created, and the innovation of a different type of dystopia. Usually, when I’m thinking about theories on how the world could end, earthquakes and volcanoes do not come to mind. That goes to show that our way of life—not the Earth—could end and no one has an idea as to how and why.

    For my complete review, please check out my website (https://aquavenatus.wordpress.com).

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