Review: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All the praise. Let’s start with the characters: I loved the protagonists and companions and many others along the way as they struggled in a fallen world full of dangerous mountain-moving magic. Caring about these characters made the awfulness even more awful, but it also provided relief and balance. For example, Syenite’s sarcasm added much needed humor while it also seemed natural for the character to have honed such a skill.

Jemisin’s level of craft is astonishing and I’ll be looking to her work repeatedly for clues about how to build vivid, realistic worlds and soul-shaking new myths in my own writing. I love how she carefully weaved plot, myth-building, and revelation together for maximum surprise and jaw dropping. She is also a master of time and transition; I found myself on the other side of transitions shaking my head in delight: that’s how it’s done!

There are many other aspects about The Fifth Season to praise, but it certainly tapped my interest in fantasy with science fiction trappings, especially a healthy dose of geology. This is really the first novel I have read that marries geology and myth, something I didn’t realize until now I was craving. Forget the forests of fairy tales and the alien flora and fauna of alien planets in science fiction: I want more rock people, mastery over tectonic forces, and geological jargon in my fiction reading!

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.