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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 My Library section along with the audio.

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

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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.

104 of 111 people found this review helpful

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  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 06-09-16

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.

42 of 45 people found this review helpful

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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.

37 of 40 people found this review helpful

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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.

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.

64 of 71 people found this review helpful

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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.

49 of 56 people found this review helpful

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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.

37 of 43 people found this review helpful

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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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69 of 84 people found this review helpful

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Too good for word

Holy crap that was good! THis book was a labyrinth. A slow, wandering, desperate, sad and exciting look into a dystopia that was truly frightening.

I really don't have the words for this one. It was completely unexpected and I I consider myself truly lucky to have stumbled on Ms Jemisin. So, so good. I recommend to anyone that loves fantasy.

In addition, the narration by Robin Miles was superb. She was perfection.

42 of 51 people found this review helpful

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Too boring to finish

With four hours left of this 15 hour audiobook I just gave up. I wasn't interested in any of the characters and while the world was somewhat intriguing it just wasn't good enough.

22 of 28 people found this review helpful

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original and compelling

Robin Miles's narration is powerful, and nuanced, and moving, and is worth the price of admission on its own. The sort of narration that made me immediately look up the narrator to find more.

Jemisin's story starts a bit off kilter, but let it wash over you and soon you'll be swept away. The tale is intricate and sometimes meandering, but every diversion is well worth it. The world she has crafted is truly unique and interesting, the characters and drama compelling.

Jemison uses the narrative to tackle many complex issues, but it doesnt ever feel too heavy handed or preachy. She brings a critical and questioning eye to bear on motherhood, slavery, sex, monogamy, racism, power, religion, violence, death... Nothing goes unquestioned or untouched, and she doesn't pull her punches. The result is a fantasy novel unlike any other, and Jemison's best novel yet.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful