For Black History Month, I wanted to speak about and praise one of my favorite authors of all time--N. K. Jemisin. In 2016 she became the first black author to win a Hugo award for her book, The Fifth Season--a book I consider a masterpiece. She then repeated that the following year with The Obelisk Gate. She’s brave, bold and outspoken when it comes to issues of race. You will never see her back down. And for this, I admire her greatly.
N. K. Jemisin is one of the most brilliant world-builders and storytellers of our time. I discovered her books around four years ago and haven’t looked back. When I’m reading her tales, I am fully immersed in a world of gods whose magic is very much a part of everyday life. I find myself transported onto a dangerous planet where everyone must always be prepared for the next massive eruption which will destroy everything they’ve built. Her characters aren’t just names on some pages. They breathe and feel and touch my soul.
And while I could go on about her poetic prose or her ability to create such realistic worlds, there is something else that blows me away--something I think is so important in this day and age.
N. K. Jemisin pulls no punches when it comes to weaving social issues into her stories. Her protagonists are hated, feared, and rarely trusted. They have to fight and struggle their way past the naysayers to achieve their ultimate goals.
In The Fifth Season we’re given three points of view. Here we meet the innocent abandoned child, Damaya, stripped of her identity and forced to obey. There is the young woman, Syenite, struggling to remain faithful to her Fulcrum masters. And finally Essun, a woman full of rage for what has happened to her and those she loves. Each point of view addresses the underlying message--that many of us fear and suspect what we don’t understand.
In The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Yiene is the ruler of a small kingdom far away from Sky. But when her mother dies she’s summoned to the capital and forced to contend for the crown. The problem is, she isn’t full Amn, a race that has held all of the power for thousands of years. Her father was Darr--what most consider a barbarian race. While she struggles to fit in with her long lost family, her life is in constant danger. She is taunted and cruelly mocked for her appearance. Within her, however, is something much more terrifying, something even Yiene fears.
N. K. Jemisin isn’t just an author to me. I am constantly in awe of her talent. She’s a master of the craft of writing. Her vivid worlds and fully realized characters pull the reader in and don’t release until the final page is turned. I will always recommend her books to anyone who enjoys fantasy, science fiction, and beautiful prose.
"Intricate and extraordinary." - New York Times on The Fifth Season (A New York Times Notable Book of 2015)WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL 2016
This is the way the world ends...for the last time.
A season of endings has begun.
In this brilliantly original debut fantasy, a young woman becomes entangled in a power struggle of mythic proportions.