The Fifth Season

Jemisin, N.K.
Orbit 2015
ISBN 978-0-316-22929-6
468pp
Date finished: 2016-07-31

The supercontinent is called The Stillness with cruel sarcasm; it's geologically unstable with earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanos. Every few centuries there is a massive disaster that sparks a Season, years of climate instability and the resulting famines and disease. Some people, called orogenes, are born with the ability to control and manipulate geology. They're essentially X-Men style mutants who can silence quakes, stabilize faults, seal lava tubes, and draw energy from heat. But orogenes are also widely feared because they can cause devastation, so they're mistrusted, often attacked by non-orogenes, and many of them are enslaved and trained by the Fulcrum, a mysterious organization that rents out the services of orogenes for correcting landscape problems and occasionally kills them when they step out of line.

This book is the start of a new trilogy, and I really admired it even though several plotlines are left unresolved. After an ominous prologue of the destruction of the capital of Yumenes, the chapters switch viewpoints between two women -- Essun, who's just had one child murdered and another apparently kidnapped, and Syenite, a Fulcrum-trained orogene sent on her first mission with the senior orogene Alabaster -- and a girl named Damaya who is taken from her family and put into training at the Fulcrum. The novel's time scheme is complicated: all three storylines can't be occurring at the same time, because Yumenes isn't destroyed in two of them. There are subtle clues connecting the storylines that eventually pay off with an excellent revelation. It's uncompromisingly grim, and uncompromisingly good.

Tagged: sf

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2016/07/Fifth_Season.html

%T The Fifth Season
%A Jemisin, N.K.
%K sf
%G ISBN 978-0-316-22929-6
%I Orbit
%P 468pp
%D 2015
%@ 2016-07-31
%* *

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