So I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages. I’ve been on a bit of a reading binge and I’ve gobbled up two epic SF series that I can’t stop telling everyone I meet about: The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch series. For my review of Leckie’s novels, go here.
The Fifth Season, the first book in the Broken Earth series, kind of hovered around in my awareness for quite a while before I finally read it. Lots of my favourite podcasts were raving about it, and then my partner mentioned it, saying a work mate had mentioned a series that had won the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel for it’s first book, The Fifth Season, and then followed that up by winning the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novel for the second book, The Obelisk Gate. No one has done that since Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (winning the 1986 Hugo Award) and its indirect sequel Speaker for the Dead (winning the 1987 Hugo Award). Understandably, it’s generated a lot of discussion.
What intrigued me most, though, was that it apparently used 2nd person narrative and used it well! Well that had me sold, and what’s more, I heard that it was used for an actually reason. Not just because Jemisin thought it would be different. Knowing that, I knew I had to finish the entire series (the final book is called The Stone Sky) to find out what the reason was.
This series is set in the far, far, far distant future. I’m talking 30000+ years. At least. Jemisin’s world building is exquisite and the blend between science fiction and fantasy is brilliantly executed. There’s the mix of the familiar (like asphalt) with the bizarre (the Stone Eaters), and the switch between Essun, Damaya and Syenite, set within slightly different times, builds a wonderful tension.
The thing I particularly love is the diversity of characters as well as the relationships between these characters. Love is complicated and nothing more so than a love between a parent and a child. It’s not always an easy read. Your heart strings will definitely be tugged and twisted, but these are the kinds of books we need to read. Being a hero is about making the hard choices, and even then, doing what’s right is often trumped by our need to protect those we love.
I never write in much detail about the where, and the what and the who of books. You can check out Goodreads for that, but this series is one of the best new speculative fiction I’ve read in a while.