Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is one of my favorite authors to see in my reading queue.  I really enjoyed the Inheritance Trilogy and have just read the first in her new series, The Broken Earth.

The book has a protagonist running through three narrative sequences, but the main character underlying it all is the Broken Earth itself.  The people call it The Stillness, ironically because it isn't still at all.  It's highly seismically active, regularly spawning world-spanning disasters called Seasons. 

Our nominal protagonist is an orogene, or more vulgarly a "rogga"--a person who can control, or cause, seismic events and much more.  Sort of advanced telekinesis.  In the current dominant society, Sanze, orogenes are treated as close to subhuman, controlled as closely as possible without killing them.  Their talents are too valuable to waste.

The initial event of the book is a violent start to a Season that the orogenes know will last far longer than any season has in the past--over a thousand years in which no crops can be grown.  This is on the minds of the orogenes but no one is really grappling directly with this in the first volume.  And it appears to be caused by a powerful orogene.

This is a wonderfully written book, easy to recommend and enjoy.  The parallels to The Killing Moon (First novel in the Dreamblood series) are pretty obvious--we have a caste of people with magical powers that are highly valuable and can easily get out of hand.  I never did get around to reading the rest of that series as it garnered no more awards.  Dreamblood's "vampires" are valued by one society, and completely renounced by another.  Orogenes are similarly feared in The Broken Earth.

I give this one four stars, with hope that the series will go in an interesting creative direction.  I can see greatness from where this book is, so it would be kind of sad for Jemisin to get to the level of Pretty Darn Good and stop.

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