Top positive review
A great read - highly recommended.
16 February 2018
This is a great book and a worthy winner of the Hugo Award of 2016 - it is not too ‘tech-heavy’ and can be enjoyed by fans of sci-fi and fantasy alike. It is set in the far future, where Earth consists of a single continent floating unsteadily on an ocean of magma and where major natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis etc. are common (and if large enough cause ‘Seasons’ where civilisation collapses).
The (human) inhabitants fall into several categories – Orogenes, mutated humans who possess the power to manipulate the earth using glands called sessapinae; Guardians, who are immune to orogeny and possess the ability to nullify it and the normal humans (‘stills’) who do not possess such glands. The relationship between stills and roggas (as the orogenes are disparagingly referred to) is complicated – on the one hand the orogenes are vital in quelling earthquakes and other natural phenomena but on the other they are also responsible for many natural disasters so are feared and despised in equal measure. The Guardians stand between stills and orogenes, protecting each from the other. There are also non-human sentient species e.g. the Stone Eaters who have little communication with the humans most of the time and whose origins and motives are unclear.
The book starts with a major disaster deliberately caused by a powerful orogene which brings on a Fifth Season (a world-ending event) and following several protagonists via flashbacks we learn about the history, culture and society of an extremely well-imagined and quite unique world. While it is not a YA book it doesn’t have much sex, language or violence (at least in the usual bloodthirsty fantasy sense) and when there is S, L or V it is always in context and a required part of the story. Highly recommended for adult readers who are looking for something a bit different – the follow-up books went immediately into my ‘must read’ list.