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The Fifth Season

The Broken Earth, Book 1
Written by: N. K. Jemisin
Narrated by: Robin Miles
Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (328 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

A season of endings has begun.

It starts with the great, red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, 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.

A new fantasy trilogy by Hugo, Nebula & World Fantasy Award-nominated author N. K. Jemisin.

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating world

This book won the 2016 Hugo Award, and is the first in a trilogy (all now published, if you dislike cliffhangers - although the endings aren't really nail-biting cliffhangers, just lots of unresolved questions and stories).

This first book starts out telling three different stories: Essun, a middle aged woman who has just discovered her son has been murdered and her daughter is missing; Damaya, a young girl whose parents have locked her in a barn and are selling her to someone she thinks may be a child slaver; and Syenite, a young woman studying to be an Orogene and about to go on her first official mission. All three have in common the ability of Orogeny, which is the main form of magic in this world: the ability some people have to manipulate heat and life force into geological activity. Untrained orogenes can cause earthquakes and worse when hurt or angry, and are feared by non-orogenes.

The world itself is racked by natural disasters, and regularly suffers from "Seasons", lengthy periods of time (years long) where natural disasters make survival a challenge for all life forms and violent cataclysms may reshape the world. Tsunamis likely wipe out all coastal cities during Seasons, many people starve or turn to cannibalism to survive, wildlife hibernates or adopts other odd defense mechanisms, etc. This is not a friendly world, and the people's relationship with the world reflects this. They talk about how father earth is angry with them, though he once loved them, but exactly why it changed is lost in myth. In fact, the world clearly could once have been something very similar to our earth before human influence triggered climate change and natural disasters - hence the series title I assume (I haven't read the end of the trilogy yet, so I don't know if any more details about the history will be revealed).

Anyway, interesting setting, great characters, and although they start entirely separately, over time you slowly begin to piece together how they are related to each other until you finally start to see the bigger picture by the end of this book. I enjoyed the characters a lot, and the world is very unique and well described. However, I had a really hard time getting into the book at first. I can't put my finger on why but I just didn't find her writing gripping my attention the way some other authors do. Maybe just the complexity of the world and characters? At any rate it was still a good book and I picked up the sequel and plan to finish the trilogy for sure

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Very tedious but great story

Again great story line poor narration difficult to listen for hours and hours with the story line lost too often.








4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

"What the rust?"

I generally find fantasy and science fiction books very hard to listen to. The names are confusing, the ideas are convoluded, and the lexicons are hard to grasp. But somehow N. K. Jemison has built something real, tangible, and heartbreaking. The Fifth Season is a haunting tale of an oppressive society on the verge of collapse. The story follows three different points of view that build a world from ideas to manifestations.

Robin Miles delivers fantastic narration on top of the already great experience. If you pick this up, you're in for a wild ride of fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, and one of the most human experiences I've ever witnessed in it's genre.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wierd romance fantasy novel.

Every character was annoyingly pretentious. Ends on a good cliffhanger though. Won't continue the series

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Perfect for those who love philosophical spec-fic

N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season is speculative fiction at its most masterful. Jemisin has built a world and mythology to give us new perspective on our own, and she has populated it with complex characters who keep us engaged, sometimes enraged, and hopeful. For all the challenges she throws at her characters in the darkness endemic to her world and ours, there is a humane center to her work, a sense of possibility and care in a world often been powered by exploitation. Jemisin also created a natural vocabulary—I imagine "sess" may find its way into English the way "grok" has done. ("I didn't really grok it until I sessed what she was doing.") Narrator Robin Miles is a talented performer who voiced every role with sensitivity and brought each scene to life. #Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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beautiful story telling

great plot, unconventional narration style might throw some off but I really enjoyed it. very fleshed out world building is a treat to discover the stillness. Very progressive concerning sexual identity.

great book definately what I'm looking for as an epic fantasy fan

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Not for me

First, let me start off by saying this book is right up my alley. I absolutely love Hugo award winners. I really wanted to like this book, especially knowing it was part of a trilogy - who doesn't love stumbling on a new series? Sadly it was a struggle to finish. I'm a huge fan of marginalized representation (race, gender, economic status, relationship status, etc) and I was really impressed by characters relationships to one another; however, I never related to any of the characters, their struggles, or the story. I never once felt that tingle of excitement where I was drawn in. I can objectively see why people love this, but unfortunately I found the whole thing very dry. In the words of Amy Poehler, "Good for you, not for me."

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Different take on post-apocalypse

Introduces the world through three personal narratives. Has consistent world-building. Starts the trilogy strong with many answers to initial questions but also raises questions by the end that make me want to read the next book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Novel but kinda slow

Interesting concept for a fantasy book, but rather slow plot. Definitely not an action packed...

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A fantastic fantasy

An intriguing world full of cataclysms that sunder the land, powerful earth mages treated like villains, and deeply wrought characters with worlds inside them.

Beautifully performed and a compelling, mysterious listen.

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  • John Barnett
  • Camarillo, California United States
  • 2018-11-04

Heavy on the World Building, Light on Plot

This is clearly a book written by someone with an amazing imagination. It pokes and prods with questions about the world we currently reside in by creating, with immense detail, a new world full of love and history. That alone is enough for some people. I might just be one of those crazy folks that hopes a novel also tells a story. I was game for about 5+ hours of world building, hoping that something resembling a story would begin next chapter. Nope. It's just a collection of details describing a world I initially was curious about, then was bored with, and finally labored to just finish.

55 of 57 people found this review helpful

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  • Fantasy
  • 2015-12-01

ORIGINAL AND MOVING, EXCELLENT!

An intriguing concept and story. It wanders far and then comes back to tie up loose ends. Very well performed and beautifully -- poetically -- written. Robin Miles is one of those great narrators who becomes the book so that you don't notice her at all because she is the characters, she is the story. I will be very happy to recommend this one to everyone who likes speculative fiction and very interested to read the next episodes!

The description is a bit deceptive. It sound depressing, but it isn't, not at all. There is magic ... of a kind. Not traditional magic or traditional magicians. No elves, wizards, or other standard fantasy elements. This is the first book I've read in quite a while that has not been derivative of someone else's foundation story. A breath of fresh air after a long run of Tolkien wannabe tales.

It is set in a time outside of time. It could as easily be before now or anytime in the future. You will have to decide for yourself. The author doesn't tell you. Lots of hints, but nothing specific enough to use as evidence. I suspect more will be revealed in subsequent books.

It's also, in its own way, rather sexy. Non-traditionally sexy -- so if you are one of the "traditional family values" crowd, this is probably not for you.

406 of 444 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 2016-06-09

Rusted Ruminations

Three threads tell the intertwined story of Orogeny, a form of magic in N.K. Jemisin's vision of Earth that allows control of seismic, volcanic, and other geologic events, and the social and political structures built around this critical skill in a world wracked by earthquakes, eruptions, and tsunamis.

One thread follows a girl with orogenic power as she is taken from her village to the big city to learn how to control her skill. Another follows a young woman at the height of her powers as she is sent on a mission. The third follows an aging orogene trying to track down her husband after he kills their son and kidnaps their daughter.

Jemisin builds her world through the process of developing character, slowly and patiently, in a manner strongly reminiscent of similar stories of environmental disaster by Hugh Howey (Wool, Sand) and Paolo Bacigalupi (Windup Girl, Ship Breaker), as well as John Scalzi's Human Division (minus the action sequences).

The writing is impeccable, the characters are well-developed, the metaphors are subtle, nuanced, thought provoking -- just take the word orogeny that Jemisin coined, which sounds exactly like erogeny, which suggests origins or aboriginals, which seems like it could be an etymological construct that means golden people, all relevant to the themes she tackles.

And yet... the pace is glacial, nothing much happens, and much of what does happen is the height of implausibility, not properly explained by Jemisin or her characters. The big reveal -- the primary reason to keep reading -- is telegraphed about halfway through. And the segue to the next entry in the series (yet to be written), though not quite as obvious, becomes easy to predict over the last few hours.

Hours... there's the rub. This would have been a knockout at 8-9 hours. At nearly double that length, it drags on and on for long stretches. Edit, edit, edit! That's what they tell my kids at school. That's what my editor tells me. That's my advice to Jemisin. Concise and precise, those are the primary Elements of Style. But what do I know? Everyone else loves this book.

The one thing I love is the thread that's told in the second person. That is really hard to pull off, especially risky to even attempt it after Bright Lights Big City laid claim to that conceit forevermore. But Jemisin does attempt it and succeeds masterfully. Even better, it seems to me to be a point of view that works particularly well in audio. The best aspect of this book by far.

336 of 376 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • McFitz
  • 2015-10-30

Great narration with interesting magical system

Any additional comments?

I have to admit that it was somewhat of a slog to get through this book, at least until the end. The plot is divided among three main stories with several characters each, and the chapters alternate the focus. The change in voice is not an issue for me, but may be a little disconcerting for some. I wondered how the stories were related, and that is resolved at the end. But I think using plot devices like this is unnecessary if the story itself is unique and interesting enough. As a reader/listener, I don't like being dragged along.

This being the first of a series, the ending leaves a big (really big) question, and most will want to move to the next book.

The magical system is very interesting, although also kind of depressing.

The narration was absolutely wonderful, and I will be adding Ms. Miles to my list of favorite readers.

84 of 96 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Keith
  • 2016-10-20

15 Hours of Backstory

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Wow, this book was very slow and difficult to finish. I do not understand where all of these high ratings are coming from. It's almost as if I listened to a different book. I kept waiting for something to happen only to find out toward the end that most of the book was just background.

Seriously, nothing actually happened in this story. You could read the supplemental information that came with the audiobook, along with the book description, and be ready to listen to book 2. However, there's not a chance of me moving on to the next book.

113 of 131 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Joe
  • 2018-11-04

Not good enough to be interested in the next book.

Interesting way to tell a story, but between the difficulties in rectifying the timeline, understanding the world, and having to struggle to become interested in the main characters, I am satisfied with letting the story rest where this book finishes.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • AudioBook Reviewer
  • Madison, WI, United States
  • 2016-02-22

incredibly well written and complex

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin is the first in a trilogy called The Broken Earth. This is a story about three women, Essun, Damaya, and Syenite. They live on a continent called The Stillness. Ironically, this land, and probably the entire planet, is overrun with unpredictable seismic activity that throws the physical world into turmoil. When this seismic activity is cataclysmic, or a season occurs, people die or band together in an attempt to survive. Societal hierarchy is arranged with Orogenes at the bottom. Orogenes are people who have the ability to control seismic activity, which can make them assets in attempting to survive or calm an earthquake, or it can make them dangerous. They are feared and so kept under oppressive control. Each of these main characters is an Orogene of varying ages in the same world living in different times relative to the occurrence of the latest season. However, each Orogene must contend with the changing circumstances in their lives as they attempt to accept who they are as individuals in a society that fears and hates them.

This is an incredibly well written and complex novel and I really enjoyed it. The world building and characters are just fantastic. The premise of the novel driving the post-apocalyptic nature of the story is well thought out and presented. It also ties in seamlessly with the hierarchical society structure that is central to the story line. There is a diverse set of characters and each character and the communities that they live in are vivid and pull the reader in almost immediately. The details help to bring the characters to life and to also hone in the humanity of each of them. Each has strengths and weaknesses. The story jumps between the points of view of each of the three main characters. One quirk of the novel is that one of the points of view is in second person. It was a little challenging to get used to, as I rarely hear it, but it worked. There are also interludes between chapters giving some information about the world, which are useful. The end is a bit of cliffhanger and for me it was also a bit confusing. But it does get the mind working on what might be happening. I’m really excited about the next novel in the trilogy. The story is really great, and it’s been a challenge to convey that without giving away significant plot points.

The narration by Robin Miles was also great. She was able to capture the voice and accents of each of the characters well. The production quality was good as well. I would recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy novels with complex and well developed world building and a story about a population of people living under oppression while simultaneously and inherently having a lot of power.

Audiobook was purchased for review by ABR.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

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114 of 134 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 2016-04-21

LET'S START WITH THE END OF THE WORLD

EVIL EARTH
It was a slow start, if I was to grade the first Eight chapters, it would go C+, B-, B, B+, B+, A-, A- and A. Mr. Impatient me, did listen to all 15 and a half hours. Jemison creates an interesting world and the reader learns about it through showing and not telling. There are 23 chapters and something interesting happens in each. I hung on for the whole thing, as I wanted to learn more about the end of the world. The whole book is well written, with some interesting surprises. Jack Vance would approve. There are also some similarities to Steve Erickson's series. The story is told through three people, kind of. While two of them are told in third person, the other is told in second person? I think. You, did this, You thought this, You, You, You. I found this way of story telling to be irritating. By the end of the book, I was also depressed and ready to be out of this depressing world. There is no comic relief and no happy people.

HE UNDERSTANDS THAT SHE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND
The reader either read very slow, or someone in production slowed things down. I put my MP3 player on fast and the reader sounded normal.

108 of 129 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • tosbanzai
  • 2015-11-11

Really slow start, but pulls through

I wasn't into this book until about hour three. I heard so much good stuff about it that I figured if I just waited long enough it would eventually get to the good part which is exactly what went down.

Don't consider this a purchase-killer though. I had a tough time getting through the first 100 pages of Game of Thrones. I'm glad I didn't give up on that series so soon.

60 of 72 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • QWILLBANKS
  • 2018-10-25

This book is meh

It was slow, the second person narrative was a cute gimmick but it came across as such , a gimmick. I also did not get into the characters very well because I did not think they were relatable. It was semi interesting at best hence the two stars and not one. I will not be reading the second and third book the first one was barely worth my time

13 of 15 people found this review helpful