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Book Review: The Fifth Season (Broken Earth Series)

I picked The Fifth Season up because my editor Chriswan recommended it to me, with flying colors. The author NK Jemisin has won multiple Hugo Awards so I was pretty excited to dig in. I wasn’t disappointed. Having just finished a stellar fantasy series by Megan Whalen Turner called The Queen’s Thief, The Broken Earth Series mended my sad heart.

Originality

What amazed me about The Fifth Season was the courage of the author’s original writing voice. Told through multiple Point of Views, the author uses a style of narration I haven’t seen before in a book. Some reviewers on Goodreads couldn’t stand it, but I thought it was uniquely mysterious. When I found out later who the “I” was, it all clicked in. That’s why the narrator talks like this, I realize. I love AHA moments in books which have been planted carefully by the author from the beginning.

Important Message

There is a powerful fearless message about racism in this book. In fact, it’s one of the premises of the whole series. Jemisin even dedicates it to “those who have to work hard to be respected in ways that others naturally have.” I love books in which the author is uncompromisingly tackling a difficult topic with such style. Amazing.

Worldbuilding

Hats off to NK Jemisin for excellent worldbuilding through a creative way: the end of every chapter is suffixed with various interesting lore. Some of them have a subplot to them. The dystopian Earth she creates is vivid and dangerous, compelling and fascinating. Granted, it can sometimes be confusing because she creates a lot of new vocabulary that doesn’t really exist in the English language as we know it. To be honest, I’m still unsure what exactly the fifth season is (there were a lot of seasons mentioned, way more than five, I thought). But I can accept that because it doesn’t really bother the plot.

Characters

Mysterious, intriguing, and powerful. From the madman Alabaster, our heroine Syenite, to the stone eater Hoa, all the characters were so awesomely in between badness and goodness. None of the stereotypical bad guy good guy here.

In conclusion, my editor hasn’t yet recommended a book I haven’t enjoyed or learned something from, and it’s the same with the Broken Earth series. I can’t wait to see the developments in the sequel: The Obelisk Gate. If you like epic dystopian fantasy, this is the series for you. Another epic fantasy you might consider is The Priory of the Orange Tree.