If the Inheritance Trilogy established N. K. Jemisin as a genre writer to be reckoned with, and the Dreamblood Duology demonstrated the range of her capabilities as a creator, book the first of The Broken Earth comprehensively confirms the award-winning wordbuilder as one of our very finest fantasists. Epic in its scope and scale in the same instant as it is intimate, The Fifth Season is rich, relevant and resonant—quite frankly remarkable.
Brilliantly, it begins with an ending; with two intertwined endings, in truth, which, when taken together, foreground Jemisin’s focus on the huge and the human. In the first, a mother covers the broken body of her little boy—who’s been beaten to death by his father simply for being different—with a blanket. Essun does not cover Uche’s head, however, “because he is afraid of the dark.”
These harrowing paragraphs—and paragraphs are all they are, for all their power—are paired with what is, in apocalyptic fiction such as this, a more conventional conclusion.