The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

the fifth season

I am the kind of person who you would think reads fantasy and sci-fi extensively. But I don’t. A lot of times, it just doesn’t hold my interest.

This, however.

This, frankly, is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Set in a world called The Stillness, which occasionally have Fifth Seasons – ecological disasters that ravage the continents for decades, sometimes hundreds of decades. To control this are orogenes, who can quell earthquakes and the like.

So far so good, but the writing, the writing is so so wonderful, and beautiful, and well-crafted. And the building of the characters, and the world, and the mythology. Essun is an orogene in hiding, dampening her gift to live a normal life, with her husband and two kids, but her kids are orogenes too, and they are feared like witches were, and she comes home to find her very young son dead, killed by his father, now absconded with her remaining daughter.

Alongside this are two other narratives, Damaya who is scooped up by the Guardians (think Watchers, a la Buffy, only much more sinister) to be brought to The Fulcrum to be trained, and Syenite, an orogene in training who has been sent out in the field to earn their wage with one of the most powerful orogenes out there, with whom she is expected to mate and produce more orogenes.

I want to say no more. The characters. The voices. The surprinsingly wonderful amount of perfectly done LGBTQ representation. It’s a story about a group of people who are feared and misunderstood, but needed. And since then, they are kept oppressed. But they have all the power.

Read nothing else about this – I’ve been careful not to spoiler anything – apart from the fact that it deservedly won the 2016 Hugo Award, and the fact that I, who rarely reads/enjoys fantasy, bought the next two books in the trilogy before I was halfway through this one. And it made me tear up and my jaw drop more than once. Seriously, I cannot recommend this enough. Get it, now.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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