The Fifth Season is one of those books that blows everything you ever though out of the water. Jemisin’s writing is not only masterfully crafted, but also full of real issues of oppression and compelling characters. If you haven’t read this, like I hadn’t until now, what are you waiting for? Let me be the next person in the line of everyone raving about this to tell you to read it.
I could never do justice to this amazing book with my own summary. I’ve tried. You don’t want to see that train wreck. Take this beautiful summary from Goodreads:
Three terrible things happen in a single day.
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
You cannot fully appreciate the scope of Jemisin’s story crafting until afterwards when all the puzzle pieces click together. When you do, it’s truly humbling because of the way in which the story has folded upon itself, weaving into this tapestry of brilliant colors you need to step back from to appreciate. It is a world of magic and legends you can only begin to grasp. It is masterful to have these chapters move against each other, dancing together to suddenly move in harmony together.
This was one of the elements that sort of snuck up on me. I was lulled by Jemisin’s way of writing that demands you stop what you are doing to read. And then all of sudden I saw all these thematic ways in which their world connected to ours. Can I just say this is a book full of mini epiphanies? It ranges from the simple touches – the naming conventions to the fear of the magic wielders. The book is absolutely gut wrenching when it explores the complicated tendrils of guilt, ancestry, and community. There are discussions about reproductive rights, the ends justifying the means, and what each individual does in a system of oppression.
At the same time, I couldn’t help thinking about what society does when it encounters a powerful woman who refuses to obey its commands.
And the cream of the story is its characters. Each and every one of them is unique and they don’t feel like characters. It feels almost as if they’re dynamic and moving in front of your eyes, coming into the light and retreating to the shadows. We’re not sure what to make of them and other times we are deeply in love with them, or our hearts are breaking with them. Even the side characters feel rounded out, full, and detailed.
The Fifth Season is incredibly complex, and sometimes a little dense, but it is a three dimensional world that demands your attention – and you won’t regret it. It makes a good gift for almost everyone on your list this holiday season.
Disclaimer: Orbit sent me this book in exchange for an honest review and I hope they send me all of these so I can put them together and just look at them.
What book do you want to receive this holiday season?
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