“When we say “the world has ended,” it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine. But this is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. For the last time.”
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin is a fantasy novel that won the Hugo Award last year. It is the first book of a planned trilogy.
Whether or not you should read this book is going to depend on how much you appreciate creative worldbuilding. When most people think of fantasy, they think of dragons, princesses, knights, goblins, elves, and such, in a land populated entirely by straight white medieval-ish English-ish people. This book isn’t like that. Its setting is unique, and the book does not rely on traditional fantasy tropes. The pleasure (and narrative focus) of this novel is in unraveling the mysteries of its world.
Those looking for tales of a heroic quest or a lighthearted adventure full of action and romance should look elsewhere. The Fifth Season is a well-written exploration of a bleak and depressing world full of devastating oppression, violence, suffering, and exploitation, but plot-wise, not a lot happens.
I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I prefer a little more action, a bit more fun.
It’s definitely a “Book One” of a series. Although it doesn’t end on a crazy cliffhanger, the full mysteries of the world haven’t been revealed.
Also, a good chunk of the book is written in the second-person. Keep that in mind if that style is a problem for you.
Rating: 4 stars