2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel
25 Best Sci-fi and Fantasy Books of the 21st Century (So Far)
Staff recommendations, guest essays, and curated reading lists.
Our favorite books of the year.
The Fifth Season brings about devastation, volcanos erupting, the ground beneath your feet falling apart — communities don’t survive it; it’s a complete reset of the world they know. We follow the perspectives of Damaya, Syenite, and Essun — three women coming to terms with their connection to the Earth, their control of the plates, and how to best manipulate this energy for the protection of civilization and their own safety. Jemisin flawlessly executes this multiple perspective narrative in a richly imagined and immersive dystopian setting. The magic system is also well developed and wonderfully scientific and offers something new and refreshing to the genre. This is a story that will draw you in immediately from the sheer depth and richness of the world. Featuring an amazing, diverse cast of fully realized characters and intricate plot lines that beautifully interweave with each other, this thorough and expansive story is a perfect blend of high fantasy and dystopian speculative science fiction. Complex, imaginative, and absolutely brilliant. Recommended By Tawney E., Powells.com
This is some of the best that science fiction brings to the literary world, a world so different, yet completely like our own, and human action and belief that rings true in all its heartbreak. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
This genre bender is the first in the Broken Earth trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. Completely original and unexpected, Jemisin's power for storytelling is effective because while the world in Fifth Season is fictional, the setting and characters closely resemble our own world. A page-turner in every sense, readers will be hungry for more upon finishing the last page. Luckily for us, Jemisin has gifted her fans with two other novels to devour. Recommended By Alex Y., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day.
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
The first novel in a new series by award winning author N. K. Jemisin where a mother struggles to find her daughter in a post-apocalyptic world.
"Heartbreaking, wholly unexpected, and technically virtuosic, The Fifth Season is a tour-de-force....It's no exaggeration to say that Jemisin expands the range of what great fantasy can be." Brian Staveley, author of The Emperor's Blades
"Jemisin's graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Astounding...Jemisin maintains a gripping voice and an emotional core that not only carries the story through its complicated setting, but sets things up for even more staggering revelations to come." NPR Books
About the Author
N. K. Jemisin is a Brooklyn author whose short fiction and novels have been multiply nominated for the Hugo, the World Fantasy Award, and the Nebula, shortlisted for the Crawford and the Tiptree, and have won the Locus Award. Her website is nkjemisin.com.