This is the way the world ends.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Oh what to say about The Fifth Season. One of my books of the decade. So beautifully done, plotted to surprising, unexpected perfection with some of the best world building and characterisation I’ve ever seen in a fantasy novel.
This is a multi stranded, psychologically intense and utterly gorgeous story that you will fall into, immersing yourself into the Stillness while the real world fades away.
It is a story of the power of the land, those that wield it and those who seek to control them. A story of community and politics in a world that can change in an instant. It is a sprawling, descriptive joy to read, emotionally challenging, visceral and beautiful, with a dark heart and an intelligent, thought provoking soul.
The author twists and turns her plot in a way that makes you occasionally have to step away for a moment to consider what has gone before. It is a compelling, intuitive portrait of life’s challenges, grief, love, loss and the strength inside us all. The cast of diverse and fascinating characters face both literal and metaphorical mountains and it is at turns heart breaking and heart stopping, I loved every last word of it, not one went to waste.
Simply fabulous. Go get it. Even if it’s not your preferred genre, I feel it will resonate.