“For all those that have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.”
This book and my review will be dedicated to all of you.
The Fifth Season, the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy is, in my opinion, a book that will truly require some patience for you to read. It took me around 80 pages to get used to everything in the book and truly start getting invested in it. That’s quite a lot of pages needed, sure there’s a great reason for this but in my opinion sacrificing the first 20%, even if the culmination of it was great. I’m not surprised if a lot of people DNF this book just from the 20%, I almost DNF it myself, it’s also the only reason why this book didn’t receive a full 5 stars rating from me. But trust me; you won’t regret reading this through to the end.
Think of a jigsaw puzzle. You start with the big picture, the box or cover of the puzzle. In the case of this book, you started with the passage “This is the way the world ends for the last time”, but you have no idea how it happens and what’s going on, what’s the catalyst? To process this, it’s really easy, read the book. You’ll probably think at this point “you don’t say?” but once you started, you’ll probably think of DNFing quickly. Like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, it’s easy to do it, you just need the patience to fit all the pieces. Brandon Sanderson praised Jemisin highly in her writing and storytelling and you know what? He’s right. Jemisin stated that The Broken Earth trilogy is the most challenging books she ever wrote, just from the first book I can already see why. I can’t imagine how much research and planning were done for the creation of this book. I think of the plot of this book as an intricate story that gets better and easier to read the more you progressed, just like how assembling jigsaw puzzle started overwhelming but gets easier and more addictive the more you progressed.
Jemisin has also done a stellar job in her characterization. Essun, Damaya, and Syenite have become one of the best written female characters I’ve ever read. Their journey, struggle, background, personality, determination are all written in a way that will make you truly care about them.
Picture: Essun by Miranda Meeks (The cover of Fifth Season limited edition by Subterranean Press)
Not only that, the side characters here are also unique and equally engaging. For those of you who are begging for diversity in their read, rest assured that you’ll find them here. You want LGBT? Oh, you’ll get it, a lot, with a passage like a “cock rubbing on oily cock”, I don’t think you can ask for more in that aspect. People of color? Brown, black, white, it’s there and they’re all well written.
Taking place in a world called The Stillness; Jemisin’s world-building is wonderful, vivid, and atmospheric. Accompanied with a rich history and an intricate magic system called Orogene, which deals with the manipulation of thermal, kinetic energy to address seismic events, almost everything about this book is Earth shatteringly good. One thing to note though, most of the terminologies here isn’t explicitly explained. You have to understand what the names are through the context provided by the narration. If you’re impatient in trying to understand the terminologies, you can just go straight to the back of the book to read the detailed explanation, there’s a whole detailed section there.
Before I close my review, I must tell you about the prose here. The way this book is written a complete culture shock to me, especially Essun’s POV. It’s the first time I read a combination of 2nd POV narrative, done in present tense, and combined with an omniscient element so it took me a while to get into it. Damaya and Syenite’s POV are easier to read as they were done in 3rd person and present tense. It felt odd at first, but after the first 20%, it became so addictive to read. Jemisin’s prose is beautiful and enchanting, and definitely suitable for the story she’s telling here.
By the end of this book, I arrived at the conclusion that The Fifth Season is one heck of a start to a trilogy. It’s superb, highly original, and also a fantastic mix of high fantasy and sci-fi that can only be achieved by top-tiered authors. This book has won tons of awards, look them up if you want, there are too many to list here. However, let me tell you that those awards are truly well deserved.