Currently reading The Broken Earth series

I am a picky reader. I have a habit of getting disappointed by a book within its first chapter. "The Fifth Season" hooked me within minutes and kept me fascinated until the very end. Longer actually, because I bought the next book of this three-part series immediately after finishing the first.

The premiss of the setting and name-giving feature of the series is a world that has natural disasters on a global scale so often that the inhabitants count them as fifth seasons. Luckily, earthquakes, tsunamis and gas eruptions to change the world don't happen every year, but every couple of generations. This might have something to do with the existence of so-called orogenes, people how can manipulate the earth and seismic activity. Or they might be the source of all this trouble. To make sure they don't misbehave, society takes young orogenes away from their parents. Which is if they don't kill them right away. This is the background for a story about oppressed people. People who try to find serenity, one way or the other. Either by giving in and excelling in the role society has left them. Or by rebelling against those rules, by becoming an outcast, a threat, a force of nature even. Or by adapting themselves and the situation around them.

I'll try not to tell too many specifics because I want you (if you're interested) to enjoy exploring the Broken Earth as much as I do. And a big part of my enjoyment is wondering why this world is as it is. What evolves from each scene. How it all connects. So far, the characters have been fascinating. The point of view characters are complex, expressing strong views and change over time. They have credible, yet contradictory relations. I'm especially interested in the relationships shown and I enjoy seeing so many different variations of meaningful connections. Even if some of them are tragic.

The narrative voice reminds me of science fiction and fantasy books I read long ago. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed those voices, this particular way of portraying life. It feels similar to Tanith Lee or Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover (spare me the outrage - apparently bad people can write good books). I especially compared it to my recollection of Jo Clayton's Drinker of Souls series.

Don't get me wrong: the Broken Earth is a modern book, not a 70ies or 80ies reminiscence. It's writing is to the point and evocative without elongated descriptions. Each scene, each dialogue pushes forward. Several separate storylines are woven together and the timing of each switch is excellent. Whenever you believe to understand that Broken Earth, something new unveils itself.

I am currently reading the second book. One more is waiting. Don't keep me any longer.


The Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin
The Fifth Season
The Obelisk Gate
The Stone Sky