• The Fifth Season

  • The Broken Earth, Book 1
  • By: N. K. Jemisin
  • Narrated by: Robin Miles
  • Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (24,497 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this "intricate and extraordinary" Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution. (The New York Times)

This is the way the world ends...for the last time.

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.

Listen to the first book in the critically acclaimed, three-time Hugo award-winning trilogy by NYT best-selling 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

Featured Article: Outstanding Black Authors Across Various Genres and Styles


Stories have the power not only to transport us, but to allow us to connect, understand, and feel represented. The work of phenomenal Black authors—like those featured in this list—has expanded the ambition, scope, and perspective of storytelling. These must-hear titles from some of the best Black authors of all time are also indisputably some of the most remarkable works of literature in both the contemporary and historical canon.

Editor's Pick

This trilogy is the first ever to win the Hugo Award for every book.
"Let that sink in for a minute. N.K. Jemisin is the first person ever to win the Hugo Award for best novel three years in a row, and she did that with this series.There’s a reason why the sci-fi and fantasy world went gaga over this. It’s dark, and I had some serious doubts that I would psychologically be okay at the end while I was listening (it’s world-endingly grim), but man, is it epic. "
Melissa B., Audible Editor

What listeners say about The Fifth Season

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Nay-Sayers are Wrong.

Okay, so, I ALMOST didn’t use my credit for the month on this book. Some of the negative reviews were scathing, and I try not to pick up books unless they come recommended by people or sources I trust.

This trilogy won THREE Hugo awards, (I’ve never met a Hugo winner I didn’t Love...) So I ignored the nay-sayers.

THANK GOD!

I haven’t enjoyed a book this much since the first time I read Dune.

The sequels will be the first time I spend money for books beyond the free credits.

Guys, this book is wonderful.

The characters are beautiful, tragic, and desperately human. The setting is refreshingly new. The plot is...

...you get the point.

I hope you decide to ignore the negative reviews and give it a chance. Savor it. Take it slow, and PAY ATTENTION. The author is masterful in her storytelling.

That’s the strongest review I can give, but I wish I could give more.

-Steve

526 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

ORIGINAL AND MOVING, EXCELLENT!

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.

520 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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 seems to have coined (it's actually an obscure geologic term), 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.

456 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An honest review.

I read every review of this book after I finished it, and I have to say "thank goodness" because one of the reviews (which I reported) spoils part of it.

With that said, it seems that nearly every review is either glowing or mad and nothing in between and I have a sneaking suspicion that it's political so, with this review, I aim to be as unbiased as possible so that at least one of these rusting reviews is honest.

For starters, the narrator is flatter than Nebraska. Her range is so limited that it's hard to tell her characters apart with a couple exceptions. Schaffa the guardian is unique and Hoa is unique but the rest could be interchangeable as far as her dialect choices go. I had to give her a 3 star rating because it wasn't terrible but it was definitely not good.

The story flow is...odd...the first 1/4 of the book I was having a hard time keeping sh*t straight because there are 3 arcs that jump between first second and third person perspectives. Around the 3-4 hour mark I was able to start detangling them and they all made a lot more sense, and thus the book became much more enjoyable. "Slow burn" as one reviewer put it, is an understatement. With that said, the story is very enjoyable in my opinion and I gave it a 5 rating.

Now for the reason I feel like nearly every single review is biased: this book has LGBTQ elements (more on that in a bit) and goes out of its way to point out the color of most characters skin and the characteristics of their hair as pertaining to their race. Look, I'm gonna get this out of the way so that Leftists don't think I'm a nazi and Righters don't think I'm a "crying lib": I'm a center right republican and a normal human being that finds politics and their forced injection into every single facet of life to be tedious and monotone trash talk. So with that out of the way, I do feel like the LGBTQ stuff is kind of forced. Almost none of it serves a purpose other than to virtue signal, and it drags the parts of the book down because of it. Not because it's there but because it simply serves no point, and that's an objective statement. With that said, there's almost NONE OF IT throughout the entire book, so it was easy to just roll your eyes and get right over it. Simply put, it might mean a lot to someone that is LGBTQ and if it makes them happy to see it, then fine. Quite frankly it's a small part of the book so if it bothers you, you may need to reassess what you're doing with your life that you get butthurt over the mention of a female character having a penis (no joke, the time it took you to read that sentence is longer than most mentions of lgbtq). As far as the race goes, it's just as important to the story as it would be if you were describing real life races. People on the northern coast are white, equatorials are brown. That's exactly how it is in real life, so why should it matter when the author mentions it here? There's no demonizing of the white skined people as one reviewer mentioned, in fact the main character says how strikingly attractive many people find them. Having the main characters be black simply shouldn't matter, if it bothers you so much that a character in a book is black, maaayyybe you're an actual racist. I actually found myself thunking how awesome this book could be as a limited series of 7-10 episodes for the whole thing with a 90% black cast. Not only would it fit because it was written as such, but it's an awesome story as I mentioned before. No joke I got goosebumps when the Aurogony (no clue how to spell some of the goofy words in this book)battles and even the basic uses were going on. How freaking awesome of a concept to steal heat from everything around you as a source of power? And no that isn't a spoiler, it details it within 20 minutes of the book starting.

So any way, in short, this book is neither a perfect 5 star as many people probably rate it for the LGBTQ and black characters, but neither is it absolute trash as the homophobes and racist reviews paint it out to be. From an absolutely neutral standpoint, I think the author did a very great job with the story but her direction was questionable at best (she seriously destroys every single ounce of future tension with a plot twist about halfway through...WHHHYYYY??) but the narrator should have been literally anyone else.

3 on performance
5 on story
4 overall

Hope this helps some of you that are on the fence

219 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

215 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Heavy on the World Building, Light on Plot

This is clearly a book written by someone with an amazing imagination. It pokes and prods with questions about the world we currently reside in by creating, with immense detail, a new world full of love and history. That alone is enough for some people. I might just be one of those crazy folks that hopes a novel also tells a story. I was game for about 5+ hours of world building, hoping that something resembling a story would begin next chapter. Nope. It's just a collection of details describing a world I initially was curious about, then was bored with, and finally labored to just finish.

211 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

144 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

This book made me so mad, with lots of unnecessary child abuse, neglect, polygamy, filthy sex depictions etc...

First off, this book should come with a filthy content warning. I should have read more reviews before I bought this, but I didn’t realize it would have so much of the story based on hate and sex. My biggest problem is I got halfway through and it has a part that describes a little boy getting teased by other children about getting sexually molested to get some alcohol. Then he basically get sent off to seclusion and what the author describes as his indirect punishment. What’s worse is it’s just left at that no real justice or anything to address the fact that you basically write in the worst possible scenario for seemingly no other reason then you want to make your readers feel like shit or pissed off.
There’s also lots of child abuse, neglect, polygamy, filthy sex depictions etc...

The whole time I was listing to this book it basically made me feel awful. I’m mostly mad at myself for getting 3/4 of the way through with the book and not stopping it.

137 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

LET'S START WITH THE END OF THE WORLD

EVIL EARTH
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.

HE UNDERSTANDS THAT SHE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND
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.

119 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

101 people found this helpful