Beyond fantasy monoculture
August 2, 2015 4:54 PM   Subscribe

“As a black woman,” Jemisin tells me, “I have no particular interest in maintaining the status quo. Why would I? The status quo is harmful, the status quo is significantly racist and sexist and a whole bunch of other things that I think need to change. With epic fantasy there is a tendency for it to be quintessentially conservative, in that its job is to restore what is perceived to be out of whack.”

NK Jemisin on upending the fantasy literature status quo and getting beyond medieval fantasy Europe.
posted by Artw (51 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hell of a previously here.
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on August 2, 2015


Yay! I am sick to death of generic Europeanesque fantasy settings.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:08 PM on August 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


If the status quo for these communities is to refer to people as savages, by all means change it.

I disagree slightly about big picture stuff but it's all importent. For example I'm trying to rework Rip Foster which is the epitome of 1958. But i love the detail and suspense of a more technology driven story.

Interesting article.
posted by clavdivs at 6:10 PM on August 2, 2015


Oh hey it looks like you can get the entire Inheritance Trilogy on Kindle for $9.99, instead of buying them separately.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:12 PM on August 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


I liked the Inheritance Trilogy a lot. I thought it got better and better with each book. And I liked that it told a connected story but that each book was very much independent and self-contained. I'm looking forward to reading the new book she has coming out in a few days.
posted by prefpara at 6:15 PM on August 2, 2015


NK Jemisin was one of the authors who got me back to reading fantasy (and SFF in general) after being burned out on it as a genre for about a decade. I felt like I'd read a lifetime supply of eurocentric fantasies (even when they were set somewhere else) and then some. And as much as I roll my eyes sometimes at the inside baseball of SFF authors/fandom, what she's done to make it a better place by exposing some of the terrible characters in the community, and the emotional labor of dealing with their retaliation, is downright heroic. I have nothing but respect and mad kudos for her even above and beyond her books--which I very much enjoy.
posted by immlass at 6:30 PM on August 2, 2015 [12 favorites]


The Arameri were some of the most savage characters I have ever encountered in fiction, though I believe that was essentially part of the point.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:33 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you for posting this!

I received The Killing Moon as part of a Book Riot Quarterly box and even though I'm not a Fantasy person, I really enjoyed it because it was NOT your usual bard/elf/boy wizard stuff. I'll pop the Inheritance Trilogy on my to-read list.
posted by kimberussell at 6:35 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hooray, I love NK Jemisin. I can't wait to read her new series.
posted by isthmus at 7:30 PM on August 2, 2015


Good read; thanks.

I've never been much of a fan of fantasy. I mean, I loved Dungeons & Dragons when I was a teenager, and I've read The Lord of the Rings several times, and I've played a lot of medievalesque CRPGs, and I'm a Game of Thrones fan. But after seeing the same formula over, and over, and over again, it's become so dreadfully boring to me.

Isn't the whole point of fantasy to imagine a new, surprising, fantastic world? Stories that insist on ploughing the same well-worn, decades-old rut are the opposite of that. You know pretty much what you're getting before you even open the book. Why wouldn't you want to draw inspiration from other cultures and other mythologies?

So, the descriptions of this author's work are the first time I've been interested in fantasy literature in eons. I just bought The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms to read on my Nook. Looking forward to checking it out.

It's always been interesting to me that fantasy cultures are almost always patterned after real-world cultures. Since I've never read much fantasy literature, most of my reference points come from video games and RPGs, but: you have the Nordic archetype (fearsome patriarchal warriors from the frozen northlands); the Arabian nomad / merchant / desert-dweller archetype (the Khajiit from the Elder Scrolls universe; the Calimshan from Forgotten Realms; Dorne in GoT); the Mongolian barbarian archetype (the Dothraki); the Briton stand-in (often positioned as the central / default / non-exoticized culture around which everything else revolves); etc. Even this article says that one of Jemisin's books is "set in a multicultural sort-of alternate Egypt".

Perhaps there's nothing inherently wrong with that. For the author, it would be an enormous amount of work to invent every aspect of a culture's religion, aesthetics, language, economic and political systems, technology, material culture, customs and traditions, etc. from whole cloth. And for the reader, perhaps a fictional culture is more vivid and easier to understand if it's based on something familiar that can fill in the gaps between the necessarily few details that are actually on the page.

But, man—authors can definitely do better than yet another story about quasi-European people in quasi-European settings, with quasi-European political structures, and quasi-European religions, and monsters drawn from European mythology, etc. etc.

You know what would be fun to play with? Write a little computer program that has a database of different cultures throughout history, each indexed by a bunch of different criteria (political system; typical biomes; architectural style; etc.). When you click a button, it picks one of those cultures, and randomizes several of its criteria. So you'd get "like 14th-century India, but monotheistic and in a taiga", or "like classical China, but with Sioux-inspired cuisine and ruled by a loose confederation of priestly city-states instead of a centralized empire". Obviously, not every combination would make sense—many aspects of culture are interdependent, with the natural environment being especially important—but it could be useful as a kind of Oblique Strategies for fantasy world-building.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:56 PM on August 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


I like what NK Jemisin has to say but I wish I enjoyed her actual novels better. I didn't dislike The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by any means but neither did it grab me and never let go. I'll try another one soon.

From the article: Stereotypical fantasy series like, say, The Lord of the Rings

I... that's not even... I mean, yeah, but that's not fair. It's like saying stereotypical mafia movies like The Godfather. You shouldn't call something stereotypical because other people jumped on the bandwagon later and tried to capture the magic.

But the general point about epic fantasy historically leaning to arch-conservatism with perpetual decline and attempts at restoration of the status quo are spot on.
posted by Justinian at 8:01 PM on August 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


(LOTR is paradigmatic rather than stereotypical. That's the word I was searching for!)
posted by Justinian at 8:02 PM on August 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Goblin Emperor is, I guess, a sort of elf Vienna and therefore European but manages largely avoid stereotypical pseudo-medieval Europe cliches as a consequence.

Of course some of the Puppy types have complained that it's not actually genre fiction as a result, because the magic and elves and goblins weren't a tip-off at all.
posted by Artw at 8:11 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Isn't the whole point of fantasy to imagine a new, surprising, fantastic world?

You'd be amazed how often that turns out not to be the case. Take away the trappings of a fantastic world - peel off the wallpaper, basically - and you find out the role of the protagonist in most quest-based video games is explicitly to restore the status quo ante. Because everything was just fine the way it was, or something.
posted by mhoye at 8:14 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


People have written extensively on the idea that fantasy has historically been quite reactionary while science fiction has trended much more progressively. There are exceptions to both claims, of course, but it is an interesting argument. I have discovered an excellent proof of this argument but it is to large to fit in this margin.
posted by Justinian at 8:20 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Guardian seems to be all puppygate all the time:

April 6th, Are the Hugo nominees really the best sci-fi books of the year?

April 9th, George RR Martin says rightwing lobby has broken Hugo awards

April 17th, Hugo award nominees withdraw amid “Puppygate” storm

April 18th, The Hugo awards hijack is nasty and dishonest

July 20th, George RR Martin urges every true fan to rally for Hugo awards vote

July 24th, The Hugo Awards will be losers if politics take the prize.

July 27th, NK Jemisin interview

July 31st, the-puppies-are-taking-science-fictions-hugo-awards-back-in-time
posted by 445supermag at 8:42 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kinda makes sense, given that fantasy draws on the past whereas SF looks to the future.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:43 PM on August 2, 2015


The Guardian seems to be all puppygate all the time

Well, the Puppies are pretty much guaranteed to have a significant and distorting effect on this year's Hugo Awards (given that there were some categories where all the nominees were Puppy-related), and will likely have a noticeable effect on next year's awards (since it takes a minimum of two years to get any change to the nomination or voting process approved), so I for one appreciate the ongoing attention.
posted by Lexica at 9:07 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also four articles in April and four in July are really not "all puppygate" given the size of the Guardian Books section (even restricted to the SF and Fantasy tags, there's a lot of other stuff in there.)
posted by gingerest at 9:13 PM on August 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've never been much of a fan of fantasy. I mean, I loved Dungeons & Dragons when I was a teenager, and I've read The Lord of the Rings several times, and I've played a lot of medievalesque CRPGs, and I'm a Game of Thrones fan. But after seeing the same formula over, and over, and over again, it's become so dreadfully boring to me.

Isn't the whole point of fantasy to imagine a new, surprising, fantastic world? Stories that insist on ploughing the same well-worn, decades-old rut are the opposite of that. You know pretty much what you're getting before you even open the book. Why wouldn't you want to draw inspiration from other cultures and other mythologies?


THIS! I'm glad I gave Song of Ice and Fire a chance (I have this thing where I obsessively avoid watching TV shows while they're ongoing, I like to take 'em down in one long binge, so I kind of avoided it, and all I knew about it was it's like War of the Roses), because holy cow boy did I ever enjoy the Slaver's Bay realpolitik in the Dany chapters. Abolitionism justified by late feudal serfdom arguments meets post-Assyrian Fertile Crescent city-states meets Dahomian economy meets Aztec war principles meets Roman gladiatorial social mores. Holy mind blown. MORE!
posted by saysthis at 9:24 PM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


quasi-european

Giving full weight to the 'quasi'. The standard 'Lords, Warriors, Peasants' set-up doesn't usually reflect the actual complexity of European feudalism, IMO.
posted by Segundus at 9:28 PM on August 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Every time we talk about Jemisin I mean to link to this short story by her, so here it is: Non-Zero Probabilities.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:54 PM on August 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is something I've been thinking about (as I guess any serious fantasy reader would be), and in my own writing and world building I've been trying to come up with something different. In particular for me, being ethnically Chinese and living in the tropics, I've been wondering what kind of fantasy I could construct from my own experiences and the culture surrounding me.

One issue I tend to have with fantasy in Asian settings that I've read, is that they tend to feel overly exotic; they feel like they are written for a Western audience peeping into a strange and unusual culture. Perhaps I just need to read more. Alternatively, the settings might be derived from the Chinese swordfighting (wuxia) genre, which I like, but is not really what I'm looking for. Those settings tend to be quite historical, and the fantastic elements are usually related to martial arts moves and the powers of internal energy. I'd like a setting where there is for example a much more established form of magic, with gods and demons and weird creatures, and so on.
posted by destrius at 11:13 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Goblin Emperor is, I guess, a sort of elf Vienna and therefore European but manages largely avoid stereotypical pseudo-medieval Europe cliches as a consequence. Of course some of the Puppy types have complained that it's not actually genre fiction as a result...

What the what? That makes no sense, but I suppose that's par for the course with them.

I used to think I didn't like fantasy, but I'm realizing that actually what I don't like is sword fights, empire, and macho bullshit. At the rate I'm going, I'll have read pretty much only fantasy books this year, and that hasn't happened since I was in grade 3 and mainlined the Narnia series.

The Fifth Season sounds like something I'd really like, but I get wary about the first books of unfinished trilogies. Does Jemisin tend to give her books satisfying endings that aren't cliffhangers for the next instalment?
posted by Banknote of the year at 12:03 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Didn't we have a few years back an epic post listing fantasy books with settings inspired by non-Euro cultures?
posted by munchingzombie at 12:17 AM on August 3, 2015


If you read a non-European language, it's pretty easy to go beyond medieval fantasy Europe. I do wonder if it's usually the case that X fantasy fiction tends to be influenced by historical fantasy X + mythological tradition of X, though.
posted by The arrows are too fast at 12:23 AM on August 3, 2015


oh hey weird, im reading the inheritance trilogy right now. i picked it up after seeing some of her Q&A stuff retweeted a little while back and basically just kept throwing money at the screen after reading "far future egyptian high fantasy" and then "nominated for multiple hugos and nebulas" and then "WoC author taking on structural sexism and racism in genre fiction".

really enjoying it so far. seems a touch YA, but like really good YA. (or maybe it just feels that way because i came to it right after reading C. J. Cherryh's Downbelow Station, with its 10 viewpoints and ultra-dry 200 page introduction about the history of interstellar trading routes, lol)
posted by young_son at 1:21 AM on August 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well said. Enough with the bloody dwarves, warhammers, keeps etc - that seems to be the sum total of what a lot of people think when they hear "Fantasy". Not my fantasy.

Tolkien has a lot to answer for.
posted by iotic at 1:31 AM on August 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sweet! I'm looking for something to read to my daughter at bedtime after we're done with His Dark Materials. I was going to move on to the Sally Lockheart series, but young_son's description of "a touch YA, but like really good YA" is exactly what we're going for (and I guess you can tell I have a preference for reactions against lazy establishment genre darlings).

I may pick up the trilogy and have a go through it myself this week!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:50 AM on August 3, 2015


Looking at it from the standpoint of the genre's health, more diversity in the material means the genre becomes more attractive to more readers, which brings in money and attention and allows the generation of more genre work. Even if you're an aficionado of All-Europe, All-Medieval, All-The-Time, the proliferation of work exploring outside that narrow range should be something you'd encourage from a purely selfish viewpoint. It's not as though anyone's ever going to stop writing AEAMATT stuff, after all. There is, in addition to all the flat-out racism and misogyny, a weirdly zero-sum take on the business, a clubhouse mentality, which extends considerably wider than just the Puppies and their fellow travelers: I remember hearing the same sort of "but they're pissing in our pool" reaction to the growth of romantic fantasy, or teen stuff, or big bestsellers like the Harry Potter series, which I can testify to from personal experience gateway'd quite a few young people I know into the genre.

Kinda makes sense, given that fantasy draws on the past whereas SF looks to the future.

They're both mainly drawing from the present or the immediate past, really. The whole "we're about, like, the future, man" has always seen like kind of an inter-genre sneer to me. And I'd remind you that the future need not be "progressive" in any recognizable sense.
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:11 AM on August 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's instances where the distinction is more than set dressing but less than proponents of hard genre boundaries would like to think.
posted by Artw at 4:58 AM on August 3, 2015


Artw: The Goblin Emperor is a savage but subtle deconstruction of one of the commonest boringly-European-high-fantasy sub-genre tropes, namely kid from poor peripheral background is catapulted to the pinnacle of power, gets chance to right wrongs and reform The Empire. Keep an eye out for the "might makes right" angle: almost everyone who tries to get what they want by force comes to a sticky end, which is sort of the whole point of the novel.

No, seriously, anyone who's been watching Sarah Monette (aka Katherine Addison) should know she's got form for that sort of thing (A Companion to Wolves, co-written with Elizabeth Bear, did much the same for companion animal fantasy).

It's no wonder the puppies hate it. And if it wins the best novel Hugo this year they'll have only themselves to blame.
posted by cstross at 5:21 AM on August 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


I did wonder if it might be a bit of rehabilitation of Mad King Ludwig, who was less mad and more just didn't fit in.

Also I think the weirdo claims that it wasn't genre fiction may have prompted this wonderfulness.
posted by Artw at 5:28 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I will say that some of the most stereotypical fantasy authors gave me my first fictional look at concepts like men marrying men (in this case because of some fucked up gender role stuff, not homosexuality, but still), and then following those authors led me to seeing the first transgender person in I saw in fiction, and then a pretty brutal sci-fi about the AIDS crisis. None of this is great works of literature, but they were fun and approachable books for a kid who liked to read that can open the mind to different things.

A lot of the people I knew as a kid who were into sci-fi and fantasy turned into very progressive people, and I don't think it was a huge coincidence. I'm not denying any of the negative stuff you folks are bringing up around the culture associated with these genres, but I do want to point out it's also a genre that allows us to imagine the world in fundamentally different, and sometimes better, ways. That is the antithesis of stubborn cultural conservatism.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:40 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh hey it looks like you can get the entire Inheritance Trilogy on Kindle for $9.99, instead of buying them separately.

Unfortunately, not in my neck of the woods. Balkanization of publishing/distribution rights is high on my list of reasons to hate the Kindle. (The only reason I use it in the final analysis is I don't have room for a book collection.)

But hey, not to derail or anything ...
posted by oheso at 5:58 AM on August 3, 2015


Nice coincidence with the sale, I'm going through a year reading only women, I just finished the book I was reading this morning, and I've heard many good things about Jemisin. So I guess the inheritance trilogy is my next read. Cool
posted by sotonohito at 6:01 AM on August 3, 2015


It's probably partly a fault of the movies, but I am very sad that what folks take away from Tolkien is big battles and fortifications. Rather than, say, a great road trip story, actually kind of boring but important political intrigue, and personal development of the main (hobbit) characters. To me, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy have more in common with the Chronicles of Narnia; and overlap with the Earthsea series in many of those elements as well (though, unlike Tolkien and Lewis, LeGuin actually addresses issues of racism, classism, gender, etc.).
posted by eviemath at 6:21 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


For those who wish for a non-European character driven fantasy with strong female and male characters I would suggest Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet.
posted by Ber at 7:06 AM on August 3, 2015


Yeah maybe lay off Tolkein? The guy may have virtually invented the genre, but he didn't realize that at the time. He was just a don with a head full of Beowulf. He's not responsible for late capitalism using it as a template for Extruded Fantasy Product.
posted by um at 7:11 AM on August 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Long Price Quartet.

Liked: The gesture based communication stuff, the world building, the originality of basically everything.
Disliked: Depressing.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:23 AM on August 3, 2015


I read a lot more time travel, & alternate universe stuff. What I'm tired of is teenagers. Every new book that's in my niche that I've read lately, the protagonist is always a 17 year old girl, going through the same coming of age beats. I'm 33, I don't care about that. Why can't the time traveler be a grown up w/ a job who has already gone through all that growing up stuff? (probably money, but c'mon.) I want Jack Finney back.
posted by broken wheelchair at 7:46 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't blame Tolkien for getting copied a lot; I do blame him for cleaving to the notion that good resides in light-skinned beauty, and bad resides in dark-skinned "ugliness", and real adventure requires traveling about with a group of men and eschewing icky, naggy, females.

As a contemporary of Du Bois and Fanon (to name just two big brains), he could have done better on many fronts.
posted by allthinky at 8:40 AM on August 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Why can't the time traveler be a grown up w/ a job who has already gone through all that growing up stuff?

Someone (Cory Doctorow?) noted a while ago that the YA genre was fertile ground because it wasn't already defined in the way other genres had become.

Nowadays the money being thrown about in search of The Next Franchise probably doesn't hurt.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:30 AM on August 3, 2015


Abolitionism justified by late feudal serfdom arguments meets post-Assyrian Fertile Crescent city-states meets Dahomian economy meets Aztec war principles meets Roman gladiatorial social mores. Holy mind blown. MORE!

You need to read the fan theories about how Littlefinger's character is the symbolic embodiment of the rise of capitalism to supplant feudalism ala Marx's Theory of History.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:58 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


It isn't a universal, but it is odd how common it is, that science fiction will often be about how if you have some kind of technological breakthrough, or change just one thing, what will the ripple effects be? How will that make society different? How will that make everything different?

In fantasy, it is very common to start with the idea, what if everything is hugely different, or there is a source of unimaginable power in the world, and then goes on to explain how people's lives would be very similar. Using magic to fill in directly for modern technology in the form of transport, communication, hygiene, lighting, food and medical care.

My favourite fantasy is where it really DOES explore how things would be different, and there is plenty of shallow space opera out there, but it is still a large part of my "tribal affiliation" for sci fi.
posted by Elysum at 4:03 PM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


A pet thing of mine has always been wondering how much is monoculture and how much is the fact that in many fantasy novels, you just don't really see that much of how society really works, and fall back on what things are called.

I mean, book A might have a king who isn't really ruling, and his general who holds the real power, knights have duels in the streets, while over there are priests stirring up trouble. Book B is identical to A, but calls them emperor, shogun, samurai, and monks. The protagonist of book A is named William and deals with a trickster fox named Renard, the protagonist of B is named Mamoru and deals with a nine-tailed kitsune named Hikaru. Book A will be viewed as taking place in a medieval-Europe knockoff, while B will be viewed as taking place in a feudal-Japan knockoff.

Medieval Europe was quite distinct from feudal Japan, but as settings in which a fantasy novel plot take place, you only get to see certain parts. We fill in a lot more with our expectations, and if the labels match Europe, people will tend to fill in the rest with Europe. But those labels are still what our society expects to see as default--don't use the term samurai for your elite upper-class warriors unless you're going for a Japanese society, don't call them jaguar warriors unless you're doing Aztec, just call them knights. (You can get around this by making up new words, but I *frequently* see people complain about new words. "He's clearly a knight, so call him that, don't call him a smeerp!")

And let's say that you go with the European labels as for book A above, but your underlying details are closer to Japan--your priests don't have any sort of fake-Catholic hierarchy, and their churches act more like Buddhist monasteries, say. In my experience, the likelier result is not going to be "hey, this isn't just a pseudo-European culture" but rather "the structure of the Church is very inaccurate historically speaking."
posted by Four Ds at 4:46 PM on August 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


The language issue is something that I've been thinking about as well... if you're writing in English, then a lot of the words you use will ultimately have certain connotations and connections to the historical culture that English is from. And if you try to express certain concepts from other cultures in English, you might end up with a certain kind of awkwardness that makes things feel "exotic" and "othered".

For example, a lot of times when Chinese-esque cultures are depicted in English, the dialogue uses a lot of honorifics and deferent speech that, in English, just feels odd and strange. But if you read the same dialogue in Chinese, it would feel pretty normal. Or alternatively, say you need to name some powerful ancient weapon. If you call it "The Whispering Blade of Seven Dragons", that immediately feels oriental. But if you call it "Wyrmslayer", that kind of has other connotations as well. So perhaps the best solution is to invent your own language and give it a name in that language, which would of course piss off some readers like you said.
posted by destrius at 10:45 PM on August 4, 2015


That's what happened with Gene Wolfe. He used (mostly) real-but-exotic words to describe things in his Book of the New Sun series, and some readers got annoyed. WHAT DO YOU MEAN CALLING IT A DESTRIER ITS A HORSE RIGHT? Well, no, not exactly.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:18 PM on August 4, 2015


For example, a lot of times when Chinese-esque cultures are depicted in English, the dialogue uses a lot of honorifics and deferent speech that, in English, just feels odd and strange. But if you read the same dialogue in Chinese, it would feel pretty normal.

If (for example) "Honorable Magistrate" was translated as "Your Honor" instead of awkward Orientalist dialogue, that wouldn't happen.

FWIW, there's a not bad fantasy series by Sebastien de Castell called the Greatcoats with two books so far. The thing is, the protagonists are magistrates set to resolve disputes in the name of the sovereign and against the nobles if needed. This is the basic setup of the historical Korean Amhaeng-eosa or the Japanese classic TV series Mito Komon, but apparently de Castell doesn't even know about the East Asian pop culture equivalents of his Greatcoats, which I find seriously baffling.
posted by sukeban at 12:10 AM on August 5, 2015


The Fifth Season sounds like something I'd really like, but I get wary about the first books of unfinished trilogies. Does Jemisin tend to give her books satisfying endings that aren't cliffhangers for the next instalment?

Yes, her Inheritance trilogy the first and second book are entire stories which stand well on their own, and the third builds more on some of the background stuff from the first two, (to oversimplify a bit). The only reason to not read the second book first is that you have some how-it-all-ended spoilers, but you could still read the first afterwards and be surprised and intrigued by most of what happened.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:50 AM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just finished reading The Fifth Season and found the ending satisfying. There's a sense of "ooh, what's going to happen in the next book?" but it's not due to a lack of resolution of the first, IMO.

Highly recommended, BTW. I usually follow the "dead or done" rule so I don't wind up in this state of is it out yet? how about now? no? okay, now? but this one feels worth it.
posted by Lexica at 11:53 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


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