“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? “
‘The Broken Earth’ trilogy is equal parts science fiction and fantasy. It is set in a post apocalyptic world where all the continents have merged into one single landmass – the ‘Stillness’, which is ironic as this world is full of volcanic eruptions, shakes and earthquakes. The major ones of which bring on the ‘Seasons’- months of a sun-less sky and half the living world dying.
The three books of the trilogy: ‘The Fifth Season’, ‘The Obelisk Gate’ and ‘The Stone Sky’ has been published by Orbit in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively; and have won 3 consecutive Hugo Awards for the three books in 2016, 2017 and 2018 , and has also been NY Times bestseller.
Taking about each of the books separately would give away a lot of spoilers. So much so that the protagonist/s themselves are a mystery.
Who misses what they have never, ever even imagined?
‘The Fifth Season’ is the longest and the most engaging one of the trilogy, we are introduced in this destructive world where the very identity of humanity is built for the sole purpose of survival – from building communities to choosing professions.
Living on this angry Earth are not only the sapiens species, but many more kinds of ‘people’. We come across the Orogenes- who can cause and quell earthquakes, sessing the tectonic movements and manipulating them at will; there are the Guardians who control the orogenes; and then there are the Stone Eaters.
The story starts with the murder of a little boy and the Earth being torn in two. As a new Season starts, we travel across the Stillness with the mother of the murdered boy.
We witness the lifetimes of characters as we travel through so many different times, places and ages, which Jemisin has artfully merged together over and over again.
The way of the world isn’t the strong devouring the weak, but the weak deceiving and poisoning and whispering in the ears of the strong until they become weak, too.
The third person narration only changes into first person in the third book, as we glimpse into the far past in alternate chapters- into the revelations of how it all started.
Where ‘The Fifth Season’ completely indulges us into the cruelties of ‘Father Earth’, ‘The Obelisk Gate’ and ‘The Stone Sky’ indulges us into the reasons of such cruel revenge and finally the establishment of a truce respectively.
But for a society build on exploitation, there is no greater threat than having no one left to oppress.
This being my first N. K. Jemisin read, she has left me pleasantly dumbfounded as the story progressively gets more and more subjective as well as objective at the same time.
A concept prevalent from start till end is racial discrimination. Infact, the origin of the plot is based upon that very fact- the colour of skin and the region of origin; the extinction and recreation of a powerful, non-conformist group.
A glossary on certain words used in the books and each of the past Seasons is provided at the end of each book, which does make the stories clearer.
The detailing and character portrayals are also stunning. Though it is fantasy, there’s not one point where anything seems impossible in all the three books.
This is one such series that is going to be with me for a long time, and I would even add ‘The Broken Earth’ trilogy to my reread list. I’m totally looking forward to more of N. K. Jemisin reads.
Do feel free to comment down your thoughts and recommendations.