The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

by

N. K. Jemisin

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The Fifth Season: Appendix 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
This appendix describes the Stillness’s past Fifth Seasons. Most recent is the Choking Season, caused by a volcanic eruption. Before that was the Acid Season, caused by an earthquake and tsunamis, then the Boiling Season, the result of an underwater eruption. The Breathless Season was caused by human activity, as a mining accident resulted in underground fires and an eruption.
This appendix maintains the voice of official Sanzed history, relating past Fifth Seasons and their general causes—almost all of them seismic in nature. Here, one results from the earth’s volatility and another from human activity.
Themes
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
The Season of Teeth, also caused by an earthquake and eruption, took place 900 years after the previous Fifth Season, so most communities were unprepared for it. The Fungus Season involved eruptions resulting in a fungal bloom that wiped out a staple crop. In the Madness Season, an eruption blotted out the sun for ten years, leading to increases in mental illness. During this time, the Warlord Verishe used psychological warfare to conquer many comms and named herself Emperor when the sun returned. This was the official founding of Sanze.
This passage repeats the ending of Chapter 21, describing how the Sanzed Empire began. The Sanzed race didn’t attain power because they were uniquely intelligent or moral—they were just more ruthless and physically strong than other races. What was initially military dominance is then passed down over the generations as racial superiority and a supposedly natural hierarchy.
Themes
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Before the Sanzed Empire, the Fifth Seasons were not as well-documented, and many of their causes are unknown. The appendix names these as the Wandering Season, the Season of Changed Wind, the Heavy Metal Season, the Season of Yellow Seas, and the Twin Season.
Before Sanze, history is obscured, though other more advanced civilizations have clearly risen and fallen in the history of the Stillness, as the existence of the ruins and the obelisks show. This appendix is written in the style of official Sanzed history, however, so these older Seasons become the stuff of legend rather than fact.
Themes
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon