The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season


N. K. Jemisin

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The protagonist of The Fifth Season is first introduced as three different characters—a young girl named Damaya, a young woman named Syenite, and a middle-aged woman named Essun. Eventually, they are all revealed to be… read analysis of Essun/Damaya/Syenite


Alabaster is an incredibly powerful, ten-ringed orogene who becomes Syenite’s mentor, reluctant lover, and friend—though the two constantly bicker and never directly admit their closeness to each other. Alabaster is described as tall and… read analysis of Alabaster


The narrator of The Fifth Season, Hoa is a stone eater who somehow makes himself look and move like a human child—though a very strange one, with extremely pale skin, hair, and eyes. He… read analysis of Hoa

Schaffa Guardian Warrant

Schaffa is Damaya’s Guardian who first comes to take her away from Palela and to the Fulcrum to be trained. A tall, sinewy man with pale skin, long dark hair, and pale “icewhite” eyes… read analysis of Schaffa Guardian Warrant

Innon Resistant Meov

Innon, the second-in-command but de facto leader of Meov, is a massive and gregarious man who is also a “feral” orogene. The captain of the island’s main pirating ship the Clalsu, Innon is… read analysis of Innon Resistant Meov
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Tonkee/Binof Leadership Yumenes

Binof Leadership Yumenes is a member of one of the Stillness’s most powerful families, but she rejects her family’s way of life and is eventually disowned for it. She first meets Damaya at the Fulcrum… read analysis of Tonkee/Binof Leadership Yumenes


Essun’s friend and neighbor in Tirimo, Lerna is a younger man who leaves the comm for a while and returns trained as a doctor. Lerna is the only one besides her own children who… read analysis of Lerna


Nassun is Essun’s daughter with Jija, born in Tirimo. She never appears in person in The Fifth Season (though she features heavily in later books of the trilogy), having been abducted by her… read analysis of Nassun


Jija is a man of the Resistant use-caste who is Essun’s husband in Tirimo, and the father of her children Nassun and Uche. Jija never actually appears in person in The Fifth Seasonread analysis of Jija


Uche is Essun’s two-year-old son with Jija, born in Tirimo. The novel begins just after Jija has murdered Uche, presumably after the toddler accidentally revealed himself as an orogene. Uche is described… read analysis of Uche


Rask is the elderly headman of Tirimo, Essun’s comm. When she reveals to him that she is an orogene, he admits that his sister was one as well, and was murdered as… read analysis of Rask


Antimony is a stone eater who appears as a woman with pale skin and black and dark-red hair and eyes. She is especially attached to Alabaster, occasionally visiting him for several years before saving… read analysis of Antimony


Corundum, or “Coru,” is Syenite and Alabaster’s son, who is born on Meov and co-parented by Syenite, Alabaster, and Innon. An incredibly powerful orogene even from birth, Corundum started quelling all the micro-earthquakes… read analysis of Corundum

Damaya’s Mother

Damaya’s mother is unnamed in the book but of the Strongback use-caste. Partly introduced as an example of the general public’s attitudes toward orogenes, Damaya’s mother turns against her daughter when she… read analysis of Damaya’s Mother


Feldspar is an older woman and a five-ringed orogene who is Syenite’s “assigned senior” at the Fulcrum. She gives Syenite the assignment to travel to Allia with Alabaster and, though Feldspar doesn’t say it… read analysis of Feldspar


Misalem was a powerful orogene born thousands of years before the novel’s present day, who is used by the Guardians as a cautionary parable for young orogenes. Supposedly Misalem decided for no particular reason that… read analysis of Misalem


Shemshena was the Emperor Anafumeth’s bodyguard according to legend. She studied orogeny and figured out how to rob Misalem of his power by clearing the city of Yumenes of all its people and destroying… read analysis of Shemshena

Emperor Verishe

First known as Warlord Verishe, she was a Sanzed leader during the Madness Season. In this Fifth Season the years of darkness led to a rise of mental illness in the populace, and Verishe exploited… read analysis of Emperor Verishe

The Node Maintainer

The nameless node maintainer at Mehi is one of Alabaster’s children, whom he never was allowed to meet. Like other node maintainers, he has been essentially lobotomized, sedated, and strapped into a wire chair… read analysis of The Node Maintainer

Asael Leadership Allia

Asael is a deputy governor at Allia. She’s a very tall, dark-skinned woman who immediately scorns Alabaster and Syenite upon their arrival to the comm, treating them like servants rather than experts come to… read analysis of Asael Leadership Allia


Maxixe is an older grit at the Fulcrum, originally named Arkete. One day at lunch, he joins Damaya and starts a one-sided conversation with her. She is initially wary but eventually opens up to him… read analysis of Maxixe


Galena is one of Damaya’s instructors at the Fulcrum. When the other grits give Damaya liquor and she accidentally gets drunk, Galena discreetly takes her to his quarters to let her sleep it off… read analysis of Galena


One of Damaya’s fellow grits at the Fulcrum, Selu is a girl whom the other grits nickname “Crack.” She is deeply unpopular and her orogeny also seems especially harsh and dangerous, as if she’s… read analysis of Selu/“Crack”


Jasper is one of Damaya’s fellow grits at the Fulcrum. He takes part in Crack’s plot to bully Damaya, but is also seemingly sexually assaulted by one of the workers in the Fulcrum… read analysis of Jasper

Heresmith Leadership Allia

Heresmith is the lieutenant governor of Allia, an elderly woman who arrives to apologize to Syenite for Asael’s treatment of her and Alabaster. Heresmith has a dry sense of humor and treats Syenite… read analysis of Heresmith Leadership Allia

Edki Guardian Warrant

Edki is a Guardian sent to assassinate Alabaster at Allia. He appears shirtless on the town’s boardwalk, ready to use the touch of his skin to turn Alabaster’s orogeny inward and destroy him. When Syeniteread analysis of Edki Guardian Warrant

Ykka Rogga Castrima

Ykka is the leader of the underground comm of Castrima, an untrained orogene who has given herself the use-name “Rogga.” An intimidating woman with Sanzed features and fierce eyes, Essun immediately notes that… read analysis of Ykka Rogga Castrima


Timay is the Guardian who discovers Damaya and Binof when they break into the Fulcrum “Main” building’s secret inner chamber. As she confronts Damaya afterward, Timay’s voice changes and she seems to be possessed, ranting… read analysis of Timay
Minor Characters
Damaya’s Father
Damaya’s father, unnamed in the book but of the Resistant use-caste, goes along with his wife’s treatment of Damaya once they learn that she is an orogene.
Muh Dear
Muh Dear is Damaya’s great-grandmother. She doesn’t appear in person, but the scratchy, ugly blanket that she made for Damaya becomes associated with the young girl’s idea of home.
Chaga is Damaya’s brother, of the Resistant use-caste like their father. He and Damaya were relatively close growing up, but like the rest of her family he thinks of her as a monster once they discover that she is an orogene.
Zab is a boy at Damaya’s school in Palela. One day, he asks to cheat off of her on a test; when she refuses, he pushes her into the mud. Reacting instinctively, Damaya almost “ices” Zab with her orogeny, thus first revealing her power.
Karra is a Strongback in Tirimo who guards the town’s gates once the Fifth Season begins. As Rask is escorting Essun out of the comm, Karra tells another guard to shoot her. Essun reacts by killing the woman, Karra, and everyone else in their vicinity.
Marcasite is one of Damaya’s instructors at the Fulcrum, who is especially complimentary of her work.
Carnelian is a senior six-ringed orogene and one of Damaya’s instructors at the Fulcrum. He’s a large bearded man whom the grits respect and fear. He is the one present when it’s revealed that Jasper stole Damaya’s shoes but also that Crack was the one behind the bullying.
Guardian Leshet
Leshet is Alabaster’s Guardian. She doesn’t appear in person in the novel, but Alabaster did something unexplained to her to make sure that she was “no longer a threat.”
A ten-ringed orogene, Hessionite was one of Alabaster’s mentors at the Fulcrum, and it’s implied that the two were in a romantic relationship as well. A Guardian murdered him in front of Alabaster, using the touch of Hessionite’s skin to turn his orogeny inward and tear him apart.
Harlas is an older man who is the official headman of Meov. He’s an untrained orogene who helped raise and teach Innon on the island.
Emperor Anafumeth
Anafumeth is the name of the Sanzed emperor whom Misalem tried to kill. Anafumeth reportedly practiced cannibalism and ordered the slaughter of Misalem’s family, causing the orogene to want revenge.