Where I summarily review N.K. Jemisin’s The fifth season.
Going in, I knew this was the first volume of a trilogy. Sometimes, it’s difficult to resist the pull when you really like an author, and if you like the book, then you have to pay, in patience, and hope the rest is on its way. The Fifth Season is one of those books for me, to the point I’m actually considering re-reading it right away, because this is one of those books that may benefit from being read with hindsight. I long to be reacquainted with Essun, Damaya, Syenite and the many hinted at but yet unsolved mysteries of the Stillness.
The book tells of a world perpetually on the verge of geological (or other) cataclysm, having already survived so many that they are now called “seasons”, a world where people live in constant preparedness, ready to close the doors and take shelter for a few years at the first sign of a Season. At the beginning of the book, a new one starts, but Essun, the first main protagonist we encounter, is also dealing with a personal cataclysm, the murder of a child, by the hand of his own father, her husband, who has fled taking their daughter with him. A pursuit engages, on roads made even more dangerous than normal.
It would be spoilery to try to describe the world of this adventure, but it’s obvious it’s been thoroughly thought through. This is superb world-building, with tantalising clues as to what may come in the next books. It’s always a bit difficult for me to decide if Jemisin’s books are pure Fantasy (they are, though), but I think this one skirts the closest to date to science-fiction (post-apocalyptic, certainly, yes, a whiff of dystopia, surely…). It’s also one of the harshest books I have read lately. Jemisin pulls no punches and I personally think the story is even better for it.
So, yes, I’m eagerly waiting for the next instalment.
That’s a resounding FIVE STARS for me.
(This review is part of Cannonball Read 7)