I'm currently behind on reviews, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.

The Fifth Season

Cover of The Fifth Season.

There was nothing about The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin that I didn’t like. It’s a bit short, but we have two more volumes to balance that.

The Broken Earth is stunning scifi/fantasy. It contains a world with a huge (and very relevant) history. It has intricate and important environmental mechanics. It has different cultures, and those have different ticks and traditions grown from aforementioned history and environments. And these are the things that are the backdrop the reader is expected to pick up.

It’s the backdrop to detailed, flawed, real characters. People who live in a hard world and make do in very different ways. And the author didn’t take the easy way out, there are no “Not a Mary Sue But You Have To Love Me” people in there, either. The flaws of the main cast are sometimes grating, but always understandable.

And the writing is plain good, too โ€“ both the style and the pacing and the changes of both between narrative strands are truly well-done. Sometimes it allows the reader to be half a step ahead of the narrative, but only just, and never for long.

So, yes, this is a brilliant book, you should read it, and I can’t wait to read the other two volumes. And in addition for all the things I’ve recounted here, be prepared to wonderful, not over-the-top, authentic queer characters. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this level of thoughtful, practical, low-key inclusion of queerness in a book of anything approaching this quality.