It is with such excitement that I leap blindly into a new Jemisin book.
I leap, I dive, I plunge into a new world, trusting in Jemisin to lead me wherever she wants this story to go.
Entering a new world is never easy. It takes a while for a reader to understand the characteristics of this unique world, its people, its problems, because of course there are problems.
This time, it is the mighty empire of Sanze, it is where we find the oregenes.
Orogeny is a strange equation. Take movement and warmth and life from your surroundings, amplify it by some indefinable process of concentration or catalysis or semi-predictable chance, push movement and warmth and death from the earth. Power in, power out. To keep the power in, though, to not turn the valley’s aquifer into a geyser or shatter the ground into rubble, takes an effort that makes your teeth and the backs of your eyes ache. You walked a long time to try to burn off some of what you took in, but it still brims under your skin even as your body grows weary and your feet hurt. You are a weapon meant to move mountains. A mere walk can’t take that out of you.
It begins with the earth. It begins with the shaking.
It begins with a woman named Essun whose life, whose heart, is broken, after she discovers that her husband has killed her son and taken her daughter with him.
Needless to say, this is a dark place. And it is an especially dark one for orogenes, those who can feel the earth, who can both still a tremor and cause one. And for that they are hunted or sent to the Fulcrum – for training they call it, but really to be controlled.
“The orogenes of the Fulcrum serve the world,” he says. “You will have no use name from here forth, because your usefulness lies in what you are, not merely some familial aptitude. From birth, an orogene child can stop a shake; even without training, you are orogene. Within a comm or without one, you are orogene. With training, however, and with the guidance of other skilled orogenes at the Fulcrum, you can be useful not merely to a single comm, but all the Stillness.”
It is never easy bringing a reader into a new world, and making them want to linger and not shut the book (or device) and find someone else’s realm. Jemisin always does so well with her world-building, dark as they may be. Maybe it’s because her characters are diverse. They’re not all fair-skinned, golden-locked and dewy-eyed. They’re not all straight.
And there is no dark evil force from without threatening the society. The society is threatened by their own kind, by a flawed way of thinking, by a over-controlling authority that seeks to enslave and harness instead of involve and embrace. I’m trying not to get into specifics, so go read this book yourself!
But yes, it is an exciting read. An absorbing read. And when I finished it, I went back to the start to read the prologue all over again, because it is that kind of book. It puzzles a little at the beginning, when you’re just entering this world she has created, and one which you don’t fully understand yet. But as you read on and things begin to take shape in your mind, you realize how powerful a writer Jemisin is. The way she creates this world, so odd, so interesting, so different, yet one you can easily see. The way she writes in these characters that you believe in. And by the end of the book, whether it is a character you like or whether it is one you completely abhor, these are characters that stick in your mind, hold on to you. This is a book that gives me a sort of book hangover, it makes me unable to jump straight into another book as I usually do.
What can I say, I loved this book, as I have loved all of the other books by NK Jemisin.
If you’re new to Jemisin, you’re in for a treat! She has one other excellent trilogy, another equally excellent duology. And well, we will just have to wait for the rest of the Broken Earth trilogy to come out.
The Inheritance Trilogy
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Broken Kingdoms
The Kingdom of Gods
The Dreamblood Duology
The Killing Moon
The Shadowed Sun
The Broken Earth Trilogy
The Fifth Season
I read this book for RIP X (see the rest of my book list here)