Let’s get into it. On this lovely morning before a four day weekend I have finally finished The 5th Season. So with iced coffee in hand (I’m basic) and something I picked up from my guy on the corner that isn’t crack, but certainly is as addicting, I am ready to dive into this wrap-up. Looking over some of my last few blogs it’s becoming apparent that I am starting to get a little too gassed up on my literary criticism. I think that is because I got in that rare zone where what I am reading, and I guess listening too, has me hooked. There is just a feeling that some books give that make it hard to focus on anything else, and let me tell you, The 5th Season is one of those.
It is certainly better for the brand for me to trash books since it is way easier to make fun of poor writing or a corny story then to come up with an entertaining way to talk about a book that I love. But I can’t in good faith trash this book. The 5th Season is excellent. When I was recommended this I was excited and to dive into something different, though of course naturally hesitant to try a new author and series. Since the A Land Fit for Heroes series has been such a mild disappointment, I really needed something to cleanse the palate.
The 5th Season is certainly a ride, it gets progressively darker throughout the novel. Like when I first started reading it I thought that my boss had given me a YA fantasy book and I was not pleased. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with some good ol’ YA, when you are you know, 12. I mean you get this story and one of the character POV’s is this girl who has discovered she has magic powers and has to go to a school to learn how to use them. Another character is a young women who has progressed throughout the school and is assigned to work with a difficult, socially reclusive master wizard person. Sounds familiar right? Well boy are you wrong.
Sure those are the baseline things, but there are more twists throughout this then a nerds nipples in 6th grade when a barely sober substitute teacher puts on a movie and goes to sleep. The main storyline is about a woman seeking revenge against her husband. Lovely right? Well her husband murdered the shit out of their son for being a rogga, which sounds like an Australian insult, but means earth wizard. And that little girl who gets to go to wizard school? She was locked in a shed by her parents for two weeks until someone picks her up. That dude then proceeds to shatter her hand as a way of letting her know who is boss. Also one of her classmates gets diddled. Before I forget about that stubborn young woman trying to make a name for herself, she actually isn’t supposed to learn from that stubborn master earth wizard, she is supposed to fuck him so they can make a kid that the Fulcrum (which is the name of the school) can keep the baby and strap it to some machine where it lived a pseudo life as a vegetable.
Not your typical storybook stuff here.
The story never gets stale, it naturally progresses and at a certain point you just go fuck it I can’t predict this just power through. There are lots of elements of magic and the limits of this magic is kept conspicuous. The bad guys have a way of negating the magic which seems to level the playing field. If you know me you know I hate the old fashioned “My magic gets progressively stronger to conveniently solve the problem” trope that plagues good fantasy. Also known, by me, as the Goku effect. So to see that magic is not the all powerful answer to everything always makes me happy.
The book ends setting up the sequel perfectly, without that final end battle that is soooooooo epic that there can’t possibly be anything after, until of course the next book starts… Give me a book like this where the author isn’t afraid of killing people off or subverting expectations. Jemisin does a fantastic job of taking those expectations and dirtying the shit out of them, leaving us something dark and twisted, like the aforementioned 6th Graders nipples. Stay cool everybody and enjoy the 4th.
Final notes: If you read this and don’t see the obvious connector between the three characters then you are as smart as me. I was talking about this with my boss when I was about halfway through, and it dawned on me what I was missing. Really embarrassing. Also I mispronounced the shit out of a word and looked like a jackass. Go me!
If you at all care what I picked up from that guy on the corner it was a doughnut.
Last note, I love that Chance the Rapper put Acid Rap on Spotify, but the fact that it is missing Juice is criminal.