STARTED IN 2018, FINISHED MAY, 2021, THE BROKEN EARTH SERIES by N.K. Jemison

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:

This was my introduction to this wonderful author.

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.

This was a magnificent book with amazing descriptions and action-packed scenes as well. And while all of this was going on in the author’s writing, the characters were developing into ones the reader really cared about.

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 concluding book lived up to the promise of the first volume, something few series achieve.

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

Leave a Reply 

Post navigation

PREVIOUSPrevious post:WWW Wednesday for 9/19/18NEXTNext post:SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS

RECENT POSTS

TUESDAY TEASER

2nd in series

My Tuesday Teaser is from the second book in The Dali Lama’s Cat series, The Art of Purring.

“And me dear reader?…Chogyal’s death (one of the monks) has been an urgent reminder: Life is finite: every day is precious. And simply to wake up in good health truly is a blessing, because sickness and death can strike at a moment’s notice.”

Profound thoughts (from a cat ) are throughout the entire book, which explains Buddha’s teachings from HHC, His Holiness’s Cat.

DRIVING WITH BUDDHA

I have just finished the road-trip books by Roland Merullo that have a philosophy side to them. I was hooked early on by Breakfast with Buddha ,the first book in the series and really enjoyed meeting Otto, his screwy sister, and her boyfriend, the semi-Buddhist priest, Rimproche. At first I was skeptical (as was Otto) about all this meditation and enlightenment “stuff,” and followed more closely Otto’s efforts to show Rimproche the “real America.” Picturing the Burgundy, gold-trimmed robed priest playing miniature golf and bowling was a fun thought, but soon I began to pay more attention to the Holy Man’s words. I think Otto’s reaction followed the same trajectory. By the end of Breakfast, I, like Otto was beginning to really like Rimproche and to wonder if there wasn’t something to this meditation “thingy.”I began to notice and sometimes read columns and articles that touted the value of meditation that came my way.

Lunch with Buddha continued the saga, Rimproche now married to Otto’s sister with a small daughter. This second book dealt with another road trip, but also with Otto’s maturation of a spiritual side which was clearly necessary for him to survive the death of his beloved wife. It went into detail about his meditations, his seeking for enlightenment, and the relative success he had with both. My inquisitive mind and spirit “ate this up”! By this point I had found a columnist in our Houston newspaper that came out each week, featuring self-care and advocating guided meditation as a way to destress, relax, and change one’s busy lifestyle. I downloaded twenty something guided meditations and began enjoying them on a regular basis. In fact, I became “good at it” and saw a definite relax in my normal “driven” attitude and lifestyle.

That’s when the fun began. Book three , Dinner with Buddha (published in 2015–hopefully there will be a book four, maybe “After Dinner Coffee With Buddha,” LOL, because this book upped and amped the plot 100%. Otto’s little niece turns out to be a very special child with special abilities (bordering on superpowers, LOL). Plus sinister Chinese strangers seem to be stalking her and her family and join the “chase” across country in the third road trip. Talk about action! The final meet-up in Las Vegas, of all places, is action packed and eerie to say the least. Otto comes to a turning place in his life and the end of the book gives us his dramatic decision. All of this action and many side-trips to National parks and scenic places manage to tie in all this meditation recommendation with an appreciation of Nature and a sense of cosmic and spiritual benefits to those who seek.

The three road trips with Otto and Rimproche have not only been a darned good, fun read, but they have enlightened my way of thinking about meditation specifically and “religion” in general. Who says a novel (or series of novels) can’t make you think?

THE ROSIE RESULT by Graeme Simsion: A Review

This book is the conclusion to the Don Tillman trilogy, but it also makes a great stand-alone novel. Written in 2019, it’s “twist-ending” is the perfect sign off to the series. I was so pleased with the ending, I gave a “yay” out loud and would have clapped my hands together in delight had I not been reaching for reading log and pen to record a review of this fine piece of writing and entertainment.

Don and Rosie’s ten-year-old son, Hudson, the main character in this one, causes his school teacher and counselor some concern, both thinking he should be evaluated for autism. Ironically enough Don does NOT want his son labeled, and he and Rosie fight the school authorities, as Don continuously looks for the stereotypic characteristics of autistic people. Knowing Don, if you have read any of the other two books, The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, you will not be surprised he keeps a “list” and tries to check off the boxes there.

Described as “charming, eloquent, and insightful…” by Booklist, the novel is also “…a fitting end to this trilogy that doesn’t pull punches”(Kirkus Review) about autism or any other subject it includes.  The secondary characters, many of whom the reader may have seen in previous books (but knowing them before this part of the trilogy is unnecessary), are admirably drawn, and whom we are attached to before we realize we are “hooked.”

So many themes and subplots fill this hilarious, yet profound ending to the series that it would take too long to describe them, but the “life-lessons” about friendship, betrayal, being “different” in any way, and compassion for others (something “experts” often claim auties are incapable of feeling or expressing) undergirds a great plot and a narrative which “explains” the autistic mind to us amateurs.

READ The Rosie Result. You will be glad you invested your invaluable reading time in this novel.

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.

FIRST LINE FRIDAYS

This fun meme, which I discovered on Carla Loves to Read, an excellent blog, and hosted by Hoarding Books, asks that we copy the first line(s) of what we are reading.

Mine for Friday, August 31st, is from The Broken Earth series, a trilogy which My Better Half and I are taking turns reading aloud to each other.  We finished The Fifth Season,the first book as our summer reading project and are beginning the second book, The Obelisk Gate. N.K. Jemisin is the author of the trilogy.

The first lines of The Obelisk Gate:

“Hmm. No, I’m telling this wrong.

After all, a person is herself, and others.”

I can hardly wait for some down time during the Labor Day Holiday this weekend to cover a chapter or two.

If you would like to participate, (it doesn’t have to be on Friday), post First Lines on your blog. No blog? No problem. Enter your first line(s) in the comments box below this post.

 

Three Cozy Mysteries by Lorna Barrett

Stonehaven New Hampshire is  a small town whose …”streets are lined with bookstores…and paved with murder.” Recently a cousin who is a “book buddy” sent me the third book in this quick-to-read and hard-to-solve murder mystery series.

Tricia Miles, the owner of a mystery bookstore, “Haven’t Got a Clue”, has it all:   her own bookstore with an nice apartment above, a bookstore cat named Mrs. Marple, and a retro cafe just across the street owned by her older sister Angelica.   Angelica has recently sold her bookstore, “The Cookery”,which exclusively sells cookbooks to open “Booked for Lunch,” a fifties cafe  and “…somehow manages to remind everyone she talks to–in nearly every conversation–her own cookbook is about to be published.”  These sisters have seen trouble before.

Although I jumped in on the third in a series, Bookplate Special reads well as a stand alone.  Its predecessors, Murder is Binding  and Bookmarked for Death received good reviews, and although there are a few references to the previous books (two other murders solved), the reader catches on without a lot of tedious backtracking–a skill any series writer needs to cultivate. Two “love interests” appear, Russ, a writer for the local newspaper (of course) who has come to take Tricia for granted; and a “new man,” Captain Baker, who will investigate the murder of Tricia’s “sort-of” friend, Pammy, whom Tricia finds “crocs up” in the dumpster behind Angelica’s cafe. At first, Grant Baker seems a polite relief from Sheriff Adams who was sure in at least one previous book that Tricia was the murderer, but then the love/hate fireworks, a sure fire technique in a love story ,begin as Grant tells Tricia to “stay out of it.”

This mystery is definitely an escape read and is full of twists and turns as well as interesting information: a Senior Citizen wedding, freegans searching local dumpsters, family secrets revealed and complicated family dynamics.  Of course at one point Tricia is in danger and the pace is quick and scary. Set during the autumn tourist season and featuring The Great Pumpkin Festival in a near by competitive (crucial to one plot) small town, the book is the perfect Fall Read.

P.S. A fourth mystery in the series Come Chapter and Hearse is forthcoming. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!)