This is the best science fiction series I have read since reading Dune in the 70s. I had been “off” sci fi in general for some time, but saw this first book in the trilogy reviewed by my blogging friend, Sarah at Brainfluff. I ordered the first book, which I reviewed back in 2018:
THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemison: A Review
This is the first book in the Broken Earth series, which was published in 2015. I found it reviewed on Brainfluff, and it seemed like a really good story. As soon as the other two books came out, I also ordered them, and last summer My Better Half and I finally got around to reading the books. We decided to read it aloud to each other at night, and it has been an excellent experience. We finished Fifth Season at the end of the summer and have moved on to Book Two, The Obelisk Gate. We hope to finish by the Holidays.
It is a strange, intricate and fascinating book, which includes a map of The Stillness, which is the known earth in The Fifth Season. Seasons are eras, some a few hundred years, some thousands in the earth’s history, usually indicated by tectonic plate shifts, earthquakes and weather phenomena. The book begins,
“Let’s start with the end of the earth, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things…” “This is the way the earth ends, for the last time.”
There are difficulties in reading the book, a vocabulary of words: “roggas,” “sessapinae,” “orogenes,” etc. that we had no idea how to pronounce, but we overcame this problem with pronouncing them however we wanted. A glossary in the back explains many of the words, but if the reader is good at context clues he/she can usually figure out what is going on without stopping and turning to the book’s end. NPR described the series as “astounding.”
Another challenging aspect is that the characters and times shift back and forth, and the reader can get confused. This, however, was one of our favorite parts of the book, for as we read, it was revealed that main characters in different chapters were actually the same characters we had read about earlier as adults in their childhood days, or that a certain character was a character we had read about previously, but he/she/it ws in a different form. All of this confusion is worth it to enjoy the beautiful, often poetic writing which makes the reader feel the movement of the earth or see the beautiful power of the gigantic obelisks.
The narrative itself is a “grabber,” which carries the reader along with the action throughout the twists and turns of the plot. We often exclaimed, “Oh, that’s the…” or “Wow! That’s why (the character) said or did so and so…” We felt so intelligent (LOL) that we figured out the revelation just before it became obvious in the “tale.” The author’s way of writing is unique. She feeds the reader information on a need to know basis and lets him/her draw the conclusion on matters just as the character concludes the same thing. The style is masterful, the word choice and phrasing original and spot-on, and the author’s imagination unlimited.
This is a must read.
It took another year or more to finish the second book, The Obelisk Gate, and I didn’t review it, but looking back there are several mentions in old posts of an ongoing engagement in reading the book. I would pick it up and read for several days, then put it aside as I found other books that piqued my interest. Finally, when I did the Alphabet Challenge, Title Edition, I needed a book beginning with an “O,” and started the book from the beginning again.
In January of 2021, I took out the third book, the final book, which I completed in May of 2021.
THE STONE SKY by N.K. Jemisin: A Review
The third book in this powerful sci fi trilogy was published in 2017. Here are the opening lines: “Time grows short, my love. Let’s end with the beginning of the world, shall we? Yes, we shall.” The narrator continues, “The person who witnessed these things firsthand is me, and yet not.” The story continues in this strange, eerie way to tell of strange and eerie events. Essun, the mother from The Fifth Season, an orogene, who has passed down this trait to her daughter, Nassun, has gained control of the obelisk gate. She is also beginning to turn into a stone-eater, with her arm solid stone, after completing her mission with Alabaster of the fulcrum. She has a job to do–“Just catch the moon.”She also has a personal quest–to find her daughter. She is wounded, ill, and carried by stretcher as the book opens.
Hoa, the stone-eater, Tonkee, the old woman, and Lerna, the doctor, all of whom were introduced in the previous book, are carrying her. Nassun, in the meantime has killed her father in self-defense and has been staying at the Moon Compound, a sanctuary and training school for young orogenes. She, too, must take a journey.
The reunion of the mother and daughter, each set on opposite missions to carry out their destinies–one to save the earth, one to destroy it–provide a dramatic, exciting, breath-holding climax.
Author: Rae Longest
This year (2021) finds me with over 50 years of teaching “under my belt.” I have taught all levels from pre-K “(library lady” or “book lady”–volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the “difficult years.” I had some of the “funnest” experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the “young, fun teacher,” I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a “dream-fit” for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is “in my blood,” so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to “come out and play.” View all posts by Rae Longest
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