N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season

I was recommended this book by a few people at work when I had some money to spend on my Waterstones card, and I’m always glad to find a great new fantasy series to get stuck into.

I do have mixed feelings though. The first part dealt with some pretty awful topics that would probably have stopped me from reading if the books hadn’t had such good recommendations, and I found the first 150 or so pages pretty slow paced so it took me a while to get into it.

But when it got going, I just couldn’t put it down, and I devoured the last 200 pages in two sittings because I was so enthralled in what was happening.

We start the book with three different perspectives; Damaya, Syenite and Essun. I spent a long time figuring out how the three stories connected and trying to predict when the characters were going to meet, and when it clicked into place, I was gobsmacked.

I thought the world building was great and the way that the new concepts are introduced gradually was good because it was so new. I loved the idea of Orogeny, the ability to sess (feel) and control the movements of the earth – I’ve never read anything like it and when the more powerful aspects of those abilities were demonstrated, I was a little in awe.

As I mentioned before, the book covers some awful topics (like child abuse and death – see the content warnings on The StoryGraph), and it’s pretty brutal in its depictions, but that might not make you as squeamish as me; in which case, great.

I also loved how there was such a diverse cast of characters, sexuality and race were not automatically just straight and white like a lot of fantasy books, and it also didn’t feel like tokenising the characters, just a natural part of who they were. The book also included sex scenes but without them feeling gratuitous like some other fantasy books (GoT, anyone?).

I feel like things started clicking into place for me quite close to the end of the book (maybe I’m just slow?), but I feel like things have been set up so well for book two. There are so many unanswered questions and I’m a little gutted I don’t already own book two. Hopefully after Christmas though 🤞

“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old orders pass. New societies are born. 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.”

My rating: 4Average rating: 4.48
512 pages. Published in: 2015
Read in Paperbackon 8th-20th November 2020

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