The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

by

N. K. Jemisin

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Shemshena Character Analysis

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 everything that he might draw energy from. She then killed Misalem as he tried and failed to kill the Emperor. Shemshena is seen as a hero in the Stillness, and the first Guardian.

Shemshena Quotes in The Fifth Season

The The Fifth Season quotes below are all either spoken by Shemshena or refer to Shemshena. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Orbit edition of The Fifth Season published in 2015.
Chapter 22 Quotes

“All the accounts differ on the details, but they agree on one thing: Misalem was the only survivor when his family was taken in a raid. Supposedly his children were slaughtered for Anafumeth’s own table, though I suspect that’s a bit of dramatic embellishment.” Alabaster sighs. “Regardless, they died, and it was Anafumeth’s fault, and he wanted Anafumeth dead for it. Like any man would.”

But a rogga is not any man. Roggas have no right to get angry, to want justice, to protect what they love. For his presumption, Shemshena had killed him—and became a hero for doing it.

Page Number: 418
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Fifth Season PDF

Shemshena Character Timeline in The Fifth Season

The timeline below shows where the character Shemshena appears in The Fifth Season. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6: Damaya, grinding to a halt
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...an active earthquake spot. To distract her, he offers to tell her a story about Shemshena. Damaya says that she has never heard of Shemshena, and Schaffa laments the state of... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...he would destroy the entire city. The Emperor agreed and came out with his bodyguard, Shemshena. Shemshena was a skilled warrior of the Innovator use-caste who had studied orogenes and the... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Shemshena knew at least this much about the nature of orogeny, and so she tried to... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
This story thrills Damaya, but Schaffa isn’t done. He explains that Shemshena was the first Guardian. The Fulcrum is the order of orogenes, he says, but the... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Schaffa describes how the Guardians train just as Shemshena did, learning to neutralize the threat of any orogene that might become like another Misalem.... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...to know that she doesn’t like seeing herself as the villain Misalem, someone needing a Shemshena Guardian to control her. Damaya admits that this is true, and she says that she... (full context)
Chapter 22: Syenite, fractured
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
...the basics. Alabaster strokes her hair and reminds her of the story of Misalem and Shemshena, and that the orogenes will always be the Misalems of the world. Syen says she’s... (full context)
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Disaster, Violence, and Survival Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
History, Storytelling, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...this: Misalem’s rage was certainly justifiable, but roggas aren’t allowed the luxury of rage, and Shemshena was made a hero for killing him. Alabaster presses the two new rings into her... (full context)