Hi, if you like fantasy, just read this series.
I’m serious. Read it.
OK, you’re still here. Hi again. Maybe you need convincing. I can try to do that…
So, you like fantasy? Do you like world building on an epic scale? Do you like a cool magic system with a little bit of science thrown in? Are you tired of casts of characters that are all white, straight, bland, and usually male? Are you craving a fantasy series that isn’t another Eurocentric Tolkien re-skin? Then, read this series.
Still here, are you? Fine, fine, I’ll do my usual review.
At the start of the first book, The Fifth Season, we follow young Damaya who is being quarantined for exhibiting her powers, sassy Syenite who is on a mission with an annoying companion, and Essun who has discovered that her son is dead and her daughter is missing. All of the aforementioned characters and many other humans possess the power to control the Earth. They are called orogenes or, derogatorily, roggas. Orogenes are hated and feared by those who do not possess the same power (often called “stills”). However, orogenes are important to all life because Earth is very unstable these days. Massive geological upsets are not uncommon, and once in a while, these upsets cause decades of darkness and ash to cover the world. The fear and usefulness of orogenes has shaped society in way that keeps them tamed and in check and perpetuates the prejudice against them.
The one slight con to this series is that when you start the first book, you may be a bit confused. One perspective is always written in second person, which can be jarring. Also, there is a lot to learn about the world. I would not say that information is “info dumped” on readers, but there is quite a bit to understand about the politics, history, magic, and science of the world. A lot of terms get thrown around, but (at least in my U.S. paperback editions) there is a small glossary of terms in the back of each book. My advice is to give the first book maybe one hundred pages, fifty at the least. If you aren’t getting into it by then, fair enough, but I truly hope you love it.
So, what are the pros to the series? Amazing and diverse characters, for one. There is a lot of depth and love put into each character. I loved them all. World building is great, as I mentioned. I really wish there were more books (maybe from different time periods?) in this universe. What I liked most is that it feels so unique. Like I said in my pitch above, it isn’t a European style fantasy with elves and such. There’s not really some “chosen one” character. There isn’t a load of other tired tropes either. It feels so fresh in so many ways. I was beginning to think that I just didn’t like fantasy much any more, but I think I was more tired of a certain kind of fantasy. The Broken Earth series shattered all my previous expectations (because this series has some hype around it) and ideas of what I thought I liked in fantasy. I gave each book five stars, but the second book is the “weakest” of the three. I highly recommend this series, and if you have any recommendations of similar series, let me know! I will definitely be picking up other books written by this author in the near future.