N K Jemisin: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season cover

The Fifth Season is a smart, well-written fantasy novel with interesting characters and world building.

In the series, the world ends a lot.  The planet regularly has extreme weather events, called fifth seasons, where there might not be sunlight for years, and even in good times, there are frequent earthquakes and minor events.  The magic users in the book, orogenes, can control seismic activity to stop all that from happening -- or to make it worse.

Jemisin introduces everything at a measured pace, so you'll learn cool things about how the magic works, about the history of the world, about each of the characters, etc, throughout the series.  There are some twists, but Jemisin hints at them enough that they don't feel totally out of the blue.  And there's enough action to keep things moving.

The series also incorporates a lot of social justice themes into the plot and explores them in ways that feel real to the characters, so it doesn't come off as preachy (even though I like it when characters are preachy about social justice).  The characters in the book have to make hard choices, so there are often scenarios where the reader sees a horrible injustice that no one can fix.  There is no knight in shining armor coming to save the day.  There is just people dealing with the world in the best way that they can.

The trilogy isn't finished yet, but I'm looking forward to the final installment!