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


I did not find the second book a slog, and I don’t expect that I’ll think that about the third one, either.

N.K. Jemisin does amazing things with perspective and narrative structure. The Inheritance trilogy kinda blew my mind. Like, wait, you can DO that in a novel?! I would say The Fifth Season is objectively better, but I love Inheritance.

R.I.P. Sexy Pirate Wizard. 10/10 would read a book just about him being an awesome pirate with his weird wizard husband and grumpy wizard wife. Alabaster and Syenite have never experienced kindness, which makes them super dangerous, and he just looks at them and has instant heart-eyes. It’s adorable.


After reading the second Gentlemen Bastards book, I wasn’t sure I could cope with more sexy pirate sex adventures, but while I think that part was the weakest part in the book, The Fifth Season won me over. By the middle of book three I was craving more sexy pirate sex adventures.


The second Gentleman Bastards book was such a huge disappointment compared to the first one. It was such a drop in quality that that series completely dropped off my radar and I have no idea if the third book ever came out, and if it did, whether it managed to salvage things.


Yeah, same here. That’s why when sexy pirates turned up in The Fifth Season I groaned. But it worked.


For the record, only one of the pirates was sexy. He just has enough sexy in him for everyone and more.


Having finished the trilogy, I’m actually very happy with the secrets and mysteries as-explained. There’s a little GitS and a lot of Evangelion in there.

All the little details I wondered about mattered in a self-consistent way, Warrant was great because while much was explained, much wasn’t. “They weren’t meant to continue.”

The cyclical nature of oppression and imperialism, the themes of stonelore/conventional wisdom, hacking, multiple levels of precursor technology with their own environmental storytelling… I was pleased to the last word.


I really like where they went with the 2nd book. I can see why some people may dislike it though. It does not have the ‘gimmick’ of the first book, so feels much more traditional.

You could also argue that 2/3 of the characters in the first book are not in the 2nd book… And the remaining one being perhaps the least ‘exciting’ of the 3.

But pretty excited to start the 3rd this week.


I was 100% satisfied with the third book.


I found it a bit unsatisfying. Behind lots of the magic was technology, but then behind that was just more magic. Like “How did you get back from the moon?” was answered with “I don’t know… magic?” and that was it. I didn’t feel like there was much need to dig down into a lot of the weird background if there isn’t, at the end, any end.

Also we had three books of what I thought was metaphor about the earth being angry. Turns out? Actually is a being with a personality that is angry. How come that was only mentioned in the closing chapter?!?!? That changes everything!!!


Luke, I think your complaint is actually hitting a point that the author was trying for: the idea that you can try and understand magic, break it down into component particles and laws as best you can, but at the end of the day, it’s still magic, something strange and unknowable. The Precursors thought they had shit figured out, and oops, they really didn’t.

I think, having started to read some other work by black women fantasy authors, it’s reaching towards an older understanding of what magic is. It’s a kind of reaction to the D&D-ification of the fantasy Genre. It’s pretty much the opposite approach of an author like Sanderson, where you have characters (and readers) breaking down and building fundamental physical laws through the magic system.

Did it really take you until the third book to actually ascribe an identity to the Evil Earth? There were hints that it was exactly what it said on the tin from the start. It was mentioned all along. When Nassun was traveling through the Earth in book 3. Hoa actually stopped to try and talk to the evil earth in book 2.


I THOUGHT it was a metaphor. It wasn’t. My bad. But that STILL doesn’t mean the final revelation should be skipped over so briskly in the final stages of the last book. That, for me, is where the real explanation of what was really going should just be beginning!

Please don’t think I want Sanderson-esque magic systems instead. Oh my god. Shoot me.

I really don’t like “magic systems” for the very same reason. Magic should feel like magic, not technology. If that is the point the author was going for, great, I’m on board. But it still doesn’t make it less narratively unsatisfying!

Same with how characters spending ages getting places, when it’s also revealed some can fly through rock, and some have access to a mass transit system. No matter how interesting those ideas are, it doesn’t make it any less unsatisfying spending time with characters struggling to get somewhere when, be magic and technology, they could just skip to the end of the journey.

It doesn’t matter how interesting the events are along the way, if you find out the entire journey could have been skipped… well… why wasn’t it skipped?

Anyway, I shared my full thoughts in a podcast I linked to further up in this thread. I don’t feel the need to go into more detail here, certainly not for a book series I mostly liked.


I don’t know if anything is truly unknowable. It’s more that they chose to ignore information that displeased them. They made their own blind spots to avoid seeing uncomfortable truths, and there were further dangers in those blind spots.

Magic/Silver is just some quantum nonsense in relation to Orogeny/Newtonian Physics.


Is there a next book club book yet? Make it The Terror already :japanese_ogre:


Finished all 3. Thought they they were great. Agree with Rym, I was completely satisfied with how this ended. Would definitely recommend this series to anyone.