The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

by

N. K. Jemisin

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Fifth Season can help.
Short for “community,” a comm is any official self-contained town or village in the Stillness. Members of the comm have their own use-castes and take the comm’s name as their own last name. “Commless” people are those whom no comm will accept. Large cities may also contain smaller comms within them.
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The Fifth Season PDF

Comm Term Timeline in The Fifth Season

The timeline below shows where the term Comm appears in The Fifth Season. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: you are here
Hierarchy, Oppression, and Prejudice Theme Icon
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...whose son is dead. She is far to the south of Yumenes, in a small “comm” (community or town) called Tirimo. Tirimo is simply constructed, designed to survive earthquakes, and would... (full context)
Chapter 2: Damaya, in winters past
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...and that he finds his wards in various ways. Damaya’s parents reported her to their comm’s headman, and the news eventually made its way to Yumenes and to Schaffa. (full context)
Chapter 3: you’re on your way
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...Suddenly the earth splits open, buildings collapse, and a rockslide takes out part of the comm’s wall. Deep underground, Essun feels the walls of the aquifer break and knows that, in... (full context)
Chapter 6: Damaya, grinding to a halt
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...she has never heard of Shemshena, and Schaffa laments the state of education in small comms. (full context)
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...as they pass, and an obelisk floating overhead. She thinks about how, even though some comms have survived Fifth Seasons, Sanze is the only nation to survive a Season—it has survived... (full context)
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...right now if she wanted to, and then maybe she could even find a new comm and live a normal life for a while, though it wouldn’t last. Damaya doesn’t speak,... (full context)
Chapter 7: you plus one is two
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...but he is very reluctant to give any answers and doesn’t seem to have a comm, parents, or a use-caste name. Essun assumes that he is lying, but he also seems... (full context)
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...to find a creek and clean him off, then hopefully drop him off at a comm on the way to the salt plains, where she thinks Jija might have stopped. They... (full context)
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...tell Hoa that he can’t stay with her, and that she’ll try to find a comm for him on the way. Almost offhandedly, he comments that Essun is looking for her... (full context)
Chapter 8: Syenite on the highroad
...a real human being. Alabaster says that he still wouldn’t want a non-orogenic child. No comm would accept them, he says, assuming that they still carry the curse of “Father Earth”—instead,... (full context)
Chapter 10: you walk beside the beast
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...canteens of water. She’s filthy and smells terrible, and Essun assumes that she must be commless. The woman notices Essun and Hoa, assesses them, and tells them to “have at” the... (full context)
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...Essun notices a scientific contraption among the woman’s water canteens and realizes that she’s not commless after all. The woman talks about the big earthquake up north and its strange wave... (full context)
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...warns Essun not to follow her, suggesting that she might be going back to a comm full of cannibals. Essun fills the pack and gives it to Hoa, and they prepare... (full context)
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...monsters.” She offers him her hand, Hoa gratefully takes it, and they start walking. The commless woman follows them close behind. The chapter ends with a quotation from stonelore: “Beware ground... (full context)
Chapter 11: Damaya at the fulcrum of it all
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...a fungal bloom that wiped out a staple crop and caused mass starvation. Because the comms of the Sanze Empire fared so much better than others, when the Season ended, many... (full context)
Chapter 13: you’re on the trail
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The commless woman now joins Essun and Hoa on their journey, introducing herself as Tonkee but not... (full context)
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As many of the people on the road have returned to their comms (if they have them) by now. The remainder are growing groups of people from the... (full context)
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The group sometimes stops at comms along the way to trade, and Essun notes that different comms accept different kinds of... (full context)
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...one shortcut that saves them a lot of time but means traveling near a hostile comm that shoots arrows at them. As weeks go by, Hoa seems less sure of himself,... (full context)
Chapter 15: you’re among friends
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...sense all the orogenes gathering, but at first glance it seems like an entirely abandoned comm. The road fades away as it approaches the town, which is unwalled and its buildings... (full context)
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...used as a use-caste name, considering its negative implications. Tonkee, clearly fascinated by Ykka, also comments that Castrima is not a recognized comm name. Ykka then looks at Hoa, and Essun... (full context)
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...again invites them to come into Castrima, but she warns them that this is a comm unlike any other. If this Fifth Season is short, then Sanze will surely destroy them... (full context)
Chapter 16: Syen in the hidden land
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...speak, with Syenite standing by in frustrated silence as Alabaster translates when he can. The comm is called Meov, he says, and the headman he’s talking to is named Harlas. They... (full context)
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Later the people of Meov have invited Alabaster and Syenite into their comm, and Alabaster continues to explain to Syen everything they’ve told him. Piracy is the only... (full context)
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...here where they are free of Sanze. They claim that Meov and some other island comms have been around for thousands of years, since even before the Sanzed Empire began. Sanze... (full context)
Chapter 18: you discover wonders down below
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...guarding what seems to be a drafty cellar, and Essun realizes that these are the comm’s gate guards: the abandoned town on the surface is just camouflage, and the actual comm... (full context)
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...to hear and smell people ahead, they fully appreciate what Castrima is: an entirely underground comm. Essun and Tonkee are disbelieving at first, until they finally enter and fall silent in... (full context)
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...only used it as a cache for supplies. During the last Season, however, the aboveground comm of Castrima was burned to the ground, and the survivors had no choice but to... (full context)
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...Hoa introduce themselves as well. Ykka then welcomes them to Castrima and says that their comm is just trying to survive like everyone else, but that they’re also willing to innovate... (full context)
Chapter 21: you’re getting the band back together
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...he told them that he was a doctor, they brought him down to the real comm. (full context)
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...to control her tears once more and lead Lerna away. As they walk through the comm, Essun notices strange new chambers containing objects that she doesn’t understand and carvings of what... (full context)
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Essun again feels like it’s insane to build a comm in the middle of these ruins, as the people who lived here before were unable... (full context)
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...a rise in mental illness. The Sanzed Warlord Verishe used psychological warfare to conquer many comms during this time, and she was named the first Emperor when the Season ended. (full context)
Chapter 22: Syenite, fractured
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...continues: during the Season of Teeth almost everyone in the Stillness starved, and the Sanzed comms started working together to attack others. This is also when they started calling other people... (full context)
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Syenite reaches the comm level, where everyone is arming themselves and loading up their boats. She makes her way... (full context)
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...first to find her, and he fought off the others. He watched her join a comm called Tirimo and guarded her until she finally left, 10 years later. Referring to the... (full context)
Appendix 1: A catalog of Fifth Seasons that have been recorded…
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...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... (full context)