Hey all, Slick Dungeon here, back to review another book for you. This time I am reviwing The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.
This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.
This book is a little difficult to summarize but I will do my best. In this world, there are people who are capable of controlling and moving the very earth itself. These people are called Orogenes, or in a more negative conext, called Rogga. They are capable of preventing earthquakes but they are also capable of causing them. Therefore they have the potential for massive destruction. There are also people called Guardians who can negate this power that the Orogenes have. In addition there are giant obelisks that seems to have some sort of strange power that come out of the earth every once in a while. There are also stone eaters that, well, I guess, eat stone. Finally, there are the Stills. Stills are normal people without any of these powers. Every few hundred years or so, there is a calamity called a season that starts and people have to find ways to shelter themselves for centuries. The Fifth Season is destined to be the one that ends the world for good.
The book unfolds in three time periods. One period deals with Damaya, a young woman who, as an Orogene, is taken to a place called the Fulcrum where she is made to learn how to use her powers. The second is about a woman called Syenite who has left Fulcrum and is learning from a new master named Alabaster. The third period is about you. It’s told in the second person and you are left to wonder, exactly, who you are and what will happen.
While I found much of the story interesting, and I thought the system of powers in the book was fascinating, I honestly struggled with the second person point of view narrative. I am not a fan of that point of view unless I am reading a choose your own adventure book. By the end of the book I understood why the author chose it and I was a little more okay with it, but I really had difficulty finding my bearings in the story.
I don’t want to give too much away because I do think it is an interesting book but I feel like if that second person point of view was removed, it would not hurt the story at all. All three time periods do interrelate, I just would have preferred it not be told in second person at all.
I found the story of Damaya the most interesting and I think I would not have minded a whole book about her experience from start to end. The other two sections didn’t work quite as well for me, although, I can see why some people love this book. There are twists and turns the reader does not expect.
I plan to give the next volume a read, just because I want to know where the story goes from here but this was not my favorite fantasy book this year. It, however, is unlike most other fantasy books on the shelves, so it is nice to have a unique story. It just was not entirely for me.
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