Book Review: The Fifth Season by N.K.Jemisin

My favorite genres in books are Action and Fantasy. I travel all around the world in my imagination by reading all the action/adventure spy novels I can find. And the other extreme is fantasy – to escape our world completely. Even though my favorites in fantasy are Tolkien and Harry Potter, I have read more of the YA dystopian and paranormal books; probably because epic fantasy deserves a more patient and immersive reading. Game of thrones has prompted me onto the path again and I decided on one very highly reviewed and award winning – The Fifth Season.

The world in the book is called Stillness, a little ironic considering it is constantly ravaged by seismic events – massive earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis which occur every hundred years or so and destroy the world and its people. The only constant in the world is the struggle for survival. Here, there exist a group of people called orogenes who can control the earth’s thermal and kinetic energy to quell the seismic events. Even though they help keep the world safe, they are the most controlled and oppressed by the leadership, with the masses brainwashed about the dangers of associating with them.

The book is about three women orogenes in different stages of their lives, their ordeals and the perils that follow them. Essun is an older woman whose husband killed their two year old son on discovering that he is an orogene. She leaves in search of him and their daughter to get justice. Damaya is a young girl whose family decides to inform and give her up to the Fulcrum as soon as they find out about her powers. What follows is her journey and life in the Fulcrum, training to control her powers and rise up. Syenite is a four-ringed orogene aspiring for more when she is tasked with producing a child with the only ten-ringed orogene known. They travel together on assignment, alternately hating and getting to know each other, helping with the quakes that they encounter on the way. Their stories and lives merge in a very unexpected way to give us a dark and gritty tale.

This book is not like your usual fare where all the plot lines converge to give you a satisfactory conclusion. Here, you get to know the expansive world, its atmosphere, the people, their trials and tribulations, the oppression of the orogenes, histories of the previous seasons that destroyed the world. This is a world where people believe that Father Earth hates them and they should do everything to survive. Amidst these brutal conditions, we get to see some beautiful relationships between unexpected people, small glimmers of hope and love in a world full of despair. This book is hard to understand for the first 20% or so but if you get past it, then what you get is a never before seen fantasy world with characters you can root for. I am eagerly waiting to read The Obelisk Gate.

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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