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 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.
The Fifth Season, the first book in the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin is set on the continent as the Stillness, where Essun, a seemingly ordinary woman, returns home one day to discover that her husband has murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. At the same time, the empire of Sanze, suffers a tragedy as many of its citizens are killed. All of this while the Stillness has been rent by a rift which is spewing forth ash from deep within the planet, threatening to darken the sky for what may be years, or possibly hundreds of years. These three things happen on the same day, which is a good indicator that nothing is going as it should be for anyone except anyone with bad intentions.
The Stillness would have been destroyed many times before if it wasn’t for the efforts of the Orogenes, people who have the power to manipulate the planet’s energy and even shape the land itself. However, instead of being revered for their abilities and the fact that they have prevented all-out catastrophe, the Orogenes are viewed with suspicion and even violence. This is partly because their powers can cause as much damage as the disasters they work to prevent, particularly if they are unable to control their talents. This means that any child who shows signs of these talents is immediately removed from their home and forced to undergo rigorous training, except for those that are murdered by frightened neighbors, or even their own parents. As Essun is an Orogene, concealing her powers, when she finds her son murdered, she realizes what her husband must have done, and sets out to find him
Essun’s journey to avenge her son and rescue her daughter propels her across the Stillness, and it's one which will pit her against the forces of the continent, as well as those who would see her dead, even though the Orogenes are essential to maintain the balance of the land. Since this is only the first book in what promises to be a complex series, there are many questions left unresolved for future installments in the series, it sets up a web of politics, betrayal, and family drama set against an interesting world that deserves a great deal more exploration.
(Received a copy from the publisher)