October 15, 2020 7:54 AM EDT

If her debut novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, established N.K. Jemisin as an author on the ascent, it was The Fifth Season—and its history-making Hugo Award win in 2016, when Jemisin became the first Black author to take home Best Novel—that launched her into science fiction and fantasy’s stratosphere. The Fifth Season, the first entry in Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, takes place in the Stillness, a counterintuitively named continent beset by cataclysm. There, apocalypses are so regular and so devastating that they more than earn their place on the calendar. Magic users known as orogenes can quell the Stillness’ deadly quakes, but that talent is rare, and those who have it are under constant threat of violence. There is a grim majesty to Jemisin’s storytelling throughout the novel, and an extraordinary artistry to how she unwinds its interlocking narratives and explores the systems that constrain its characters. —Cate Matthews

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