Book Club - The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Book Cover

If you haven't heard, N.K. Jemisin is the new hotness, relatively speaking. The Broken Earth series seems to be her biggest and most popular work. How could we not select its first installment, "The Fifth Season," for our next book club.

It won the Hugo Award for best novel in 2016. The second book in the series "The Obelisk Gate" won the same award in 2017. How much would you like to bet the third novel wins in 2018?

The book is about a very dangerous world. It has the usual four seasons of winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Then there is also a fifth season of geological calamity. This fifth season has been the end of many civilizations. Their ruins are strewn all about, and there are none who remember the people that built them. All human society is structured in such a way as to make sure they survive the fifth season(s) where others have failed.

Also, some people, including many central characters, are born as orogenes. Basically, they are geology wizards. Much like the mutants in X-Men, they are outcast victims of oppression, prejudice, and genocide. Yet, they are simultaneously respected, feared, and called upon to use their powers to save society from disaster.

I've already started, and I can tell you this is a must-read for all GeekNights listeners.


I just finished the third and last book in the trilogy last night. I can tell you it is a massive slog to get through books two and three, and is only very barely worth it. The audiobook for book three was 17 hours long and the “story” only got started at hour 11 or 12.

I’d recommend stopping after book one. All the things I liked about book one were missing in the next two, and what is left is just grim, death-filled drudgery with only short sections of plot progressions or backstory reveals.

Book one is totally worth it though.

Lol wait so you’re saying it’s like the prince of nothing series? (;

I’m pretty glad you picked this. I just read a few pages a week or so ago before I got abominably busy again.


The Prince of Nothing trilogy kept up for two books before taking a massive nosedive.

The Aspect Emperor series also managed two books before taking a massive nosedive. I’ve not read book four yet, but I guess I’ll get to it.

You aren’t missing anything by not reading the TUC. I used to be far more forgiving of the series but after reading to the end of TUC I basically agree with your assessment of the Second Apocalypse. Thanks for the warning about the books after The Fifth Season. Saved me from some slogging there.

Full review of the last two books of the trilogy and why it didn’t feel worth it explained on my podcast:

SFBRP #343 – N K Jemisin – The Stone Sky – The Broken Earth #3

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I guess that, when I think about it, the main reason I really value the Prince of Nothing is the whole concept of “the darkness that comes before”, and maybe also some of the political machinations (a la Game of Thrones).

That might explain why I seem to feel the books are important, but I haven’t actually read the last one or two of them.

I think perhaps I would be much more critical of the books if I read them a second time.

I just finished all three books and enjoyed them. But the third book did seem slower than the rest.

I haven’t read the third one yet, but I did not find the second one a slog at all.

I thought this was timely:

“Sometimes a book series is so important that you want people to put everything aside and just read it. I’m not the only one who feels this way about N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. The first and second novels in Jemisin’s trilogy, The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate won the prestigious Hugo Award for the past two years in a row—the first time this has happened since Ender’s Game and its sequel Speaker for the Dead won sequential Hugos in 1986 and 87.”

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Scott wants the biggest, most excitingly mysteries to be explained. In the third book of he Broken Earth Trilogy, everything about everything’s is explained… and you’ll wish it wasn’t. Some things really are best left unexplored as they only reveal plot-breaking elements, not satisfy any itch. :frowning:


Please make the next book club book Blindsight by Peter Watts. For these reasons:

  1. It’s one of the most impressive first contact stories.
  2. It is in the GeekNights wheelhouse HARD.
  3. Really. You know how I recommended Player of Games but it took you years to get to it, and then the Culture series become on of the most-referenced works on the podcast? Why wait those years?
  4. Peter Watts gives most of his novels away free on his website, including this one. Read it here:
  5. Listeners in Toronto can go to a two day science and philosophy symposium based on his writing:


No kidding. Peter Watts caught a case of Bakkeritis: the last fifth of the book was appendices.

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There’s a massive difference.

Bakker has an appendix listing more and more fictional shit which makes me think “if this is important, why isn’t it in the novel… and if it isn’t important, why is it In book?”

Watts has an appendix which explains the state of the real world science and research related to the concepts in his novel, and then has a 100plus long list of references to scientific papers and publications for further reading.

Bakker encourages ever more masturbatory navel gazing. Watts the opposite.

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(is fifteen characters)

Navel gazing is truly in the Geeknights wheelhouse :-p


Would you guys consider doing a wrap-up show on the series when you get done?

Absolutely! I’m already halfway through the second book.