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Summary

Winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel
Book 1 in the double Hugo-Award-winning trilogy
A New York Times Notable Book
Shortlisted for the World Fantasy, Nebula, Kitschies, Audie and Locus Awards
The inaugural Wired.com book club pick

This is the way the world ends...for the last time. 

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world, 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.

The Broken Earth trilogy is complete - beginning with The Fifth Season, continuing in The Obelisk Gate (Winner of the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novel) and concluding with The Stone Sky (Shortlisted for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novel).

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 N. K. Jemisin (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Astounding." (NPR)

"Elegiac, complex, and intriguing." (Publishers Weekly)

"Intricate and extraordinary." (New York Times)

What listeners say about The Fifth Season

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good and enjoyable book.

Be warned. The opening chapter is terrible and doesn't reflect the rest of the story. The narrator loses the weird jokey familiarity, the background music stops and the second person writing style only appears periodically. (Not something I normally struggle with but having an audiobook refer to 'you' doing things is a tad jarring at first.)

The plot focuses around 3 woman who are second class citizens subject to racism. The author has clearly written from a familiarish viewpoint but there's a reason people are told to 'write what you know' and that's because it works.

It is a little confusing working out how technologically advanced the background civilisation is. They have hydro-electric power, tarmac and antibiotics but ride horses, use telegrams, don't have guns and don't know what stars are. You end up having to sort of roll with it and assume pre-medieval tech until told otherwise.

The main characters are all stubborn and excessively close-minded. I think we are meant to put this down to brainwashing but it does grate a bit.

Overall, the story is fairly unique, the plot ia compelling, the narration is good and the characters are quite likeable. Other than my minir qualms above there isn't anything too wromg with the story. Give it a go.

17 people found this helpful

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Blown away...

After reading some of the reviews I was slightly sceptical. I'm glad i went for it anyway. This book needs your full attention but is an amazing introduction to a well crafted and mysterious world.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Well read, decent characters, plodding plot

This is an odd book. The author does a great job of world building and populates it with some compelling characters but managed to have them do very little other than wander around aimlessly. There's an occasional reveal, which all feel fairly arbitrary, and some slightly strange narrative choices which don't really work.

That said, it's certainly original and the narration is excellent.

11 people found this helpful

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some great ideas but...

I felt some areas needed further exposition and the characters were never fully fleshed out... I always felt I was skimming over the surface of the story without being drawn in. what brought it home was the lack of emotion at losing certain characters, didn't bat an eyelid when they kicked the bucket.

5 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

It’s no surprise this book won awards. It’s so intriguing, so engrossing, so mind blowingly brilliant. I could fill this review with superlatives alone.

Half the book you’re wondering what the hell is going on, what the plot is, but you become intrigued to the point of obsession. What makes this stand out is it is worth the wait and all you want to do is pick up book 2 straight away. Ms Jemisin knows her geology, whether through research for the book or through work, when going into detail you are not bored by it nor do you switch off.

Chapters are written alternatively in 2nd and 3rd person which takes a bit of getting used to, but you get used to it soon enough.

Robin Miles works wonders giving the story real life and navigating the voices giving each character enough identity that you know who is talking..

Without a doubt one of the best books I’ve ever had the pleasure to read/listen to. Book 2 is half way through and 3 is sat waiting.

3 people found this helpful

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Gave up halfway

I wanted to love this book. The world building is incredible and the universe is a breath of fresh air. However, after 7 hours (roughly half way) I'm finally giving up. Other than the odd reveal here and there, nothing has happened. Just a bunch of characters I don't feel for wondering around aimlessly.

3 people found this helpful

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<br />Hard to get into, but deeply absorbing

Persevere through the first three or four chapters. . . . . . . .

6 people found this helpful

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Struggled.

Struggled to get into this one. For me, the narration by Robin Miles was quite stilted. The muddied accents she put on for some of the characters were very strange. The sci-fi aspects of the story were very compelling though.

6 people found this helpful

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Good world-building but stretched out story

A bit of a slog after an interesting start. As an audio book I managed to get through it with it on in the background. But I would have given up in Kindle form.

A Hugo award winner...it now makes me wary of other such winners. A 'worthy' book with a welcome diversity you rarely see in sci-fi/fantasy....but if you take that away, the story is pretty average.

I've definitely been put off from completing the trilogy.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic really recommend

Normally a Sci fi fan and stumbled on this book looking at Hugo awards. Very rewarding listen great narrator

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Jón Gísli Björgvinsson
  • Jón Gísli Björgvinsson
  • 17-04-18

Breaks every mold I can think of

I bought this book after reading a review that was mostly complaining about how queer it is, as that's usually a sign that whatever's being reviewed is something I will enjoy greatly. This methkd has yet to fail me.

The Fifth Season is the kind of book you hear about second-hand, or in hypotheticals that leave you going "Wow, I want to read that book."

It plays with structure, tone, and style in ways I've never seen before. The flow and shape of the story shifts and splits and converges in ways that are always surprising, but never absurd or unreasonable.

The world is cool as hell. A fantasy story set in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi world, where sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

It's dark at times, but never needlessly or excessively. The Fifth Season is honest about the ugly things, and about the beautiful things.

The narrator also does a tremendous job of narrating, enhancing and enhanced by the book itself having a narrator, which she brings to life excellently.

I am in love, and I am immediately moving to the next one.

14 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Brynhildur Björnsdóttir
  • Brynhildur Björnsdóttir
  • 15-01-19

.Amasing new world.

Different and interesting. Now I will go and find book nr. 2 😁 Looking forward to listen to that one.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Luna
  • 15-01-19

Very original

The book was a bit confusing in the beginning, but as the story unfolded the world the author created unfolded too. It's not a book you can't put down, save the last two chapters, but it's a book you want to keep on reading (or listen to). Aside from world building, N. K. Jemisin's greatest talent is creating believable, diverse and relatable characters that you want to dive into and learn more about.

The only downside is how depressing the story is and I should warn you that it could have triggers for people who have experienced some kind of trauma. It's definitely not one of those feel-good books, but it has something deeper and keeps it real, if one can say such a thing about a fantasy novel.

The narrator did a fantastic job and had a captivating performance. I would prefer the audio version rather than read the book myself.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-07-19

Unlike anything else

This book fully deserves all its accolades. It's fantasy the likes of which I've never experienced before, with a setting so new and rich and wonderfully realised that I can't stop thinking about it.

And the lush wordlbuiilding of this truly unique fantasy setting sets the stage for genuine characters, genuine drama, and draws from and amplifies real world issues that feel excruciatingly real. It's the best of both worlds, completely alien but utterly human.

I'm used to detailed fantasy settings prioritising plot and worldbuilding over character and theme, but Fifth Season manages them all beautifully as each facet of storytelling flows into the others. It intimately explores its characters' struggles, which often involves larger themes of structural violence, racism and dehumanisation, all informed by the utterly fascinating setting of orogenes and Stone Eaters and obelisks and shakes.

It's pitch perfect fantasy and I cannot recommend it enough.

The performance is also excellent, particularly during dialogue. The different voices and accents of characters all seem fitting and are instantly recognisable, and the tenser moments are executed brilliantly.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cael
  • 24-05-18

captivating

A captivating story. loved it to the last word. it was a unique reading experience.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MB
  • 17-01-18

Excellent

Narrator was excellent at bringing the story to life and the story itself was gripping, entertaining and completely unlike anything I've read before. I can't wait to start Book 2.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andries Koorzen
  • 05-03-19

Nothing special. Just another book

Narrator's character voices sound mostly the same.. Difficult to always know which of the characters are speaking.

The story is difficult to follow in the beginning since there are many 3rd person references without much context. The story could be better adapted for audio only.

Main character development is... Ok.. I don't feel particularly sad mad or glad at her tho the situations she finds herself in are quite debilitating at times.

The sex is quite explicit and uncultured. The author clearly has a need to express these views. Luckily this can be skipped.

Spoiler alert:

The fact that the 3 storylines converge is probably the biggest surprise but other than that nothing special

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Andrés Pérez Camarasa
  • Andrés Pérez Camarasa
  • 05-04-21

Very intriguing, very well thought

The fifth season is a great book.
Fantasy meets scifi in a very well fleshed out world that feels real and logical.
Everything revolves around geology, and it's a fresh take indeed.
The author makes one hell of a twist with the narrative, that spice things up.
If you want to read something apocaliptic and with fantasy on it, this is a great book.

The voiceover is very nice too, the characters are easy to diferenciate.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-12-20

Not for me

I had a hard time following the plot. All the characters were assholes and didnt really develop untill the very end. This has been on my wish lust for some time, but sadly it did not live upp to my expectations.

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  • szecstom
  • 12-10-20

the Freshest

Brilliantly pushing the boundaries of contemporary fantasy, N K Jemisin created a truly unique story that simply should not be missed by anyone, let alone lovers of the genre.

The wordlbuilding is fantastic, if somewhat on the nose, and the narrative is a bit predictable, not due to the lack of nuance, but rather to the focused nature of the storytelling.

Known fantasy tropes, such as a school setting or a mentor-szudent dynamic, have been brilliantly subverted to cover a range of heavy themes, such as abuse, trauma and the struggle for self-actualization.

The author's voice is so unique and entrancing, especially through such a talented medium as Robin Miles, that I feel like I have to keep listening on.