Fifth Season: Prologue and Ch 1

2

Prologue
Yumenes is noted for being a city not built to withstand earthquakes, then it is destroyed by an earthquake, triggered by a man.

Essun with her dead son, ending her world. And the world outside ended the day before. Neither is new for her. A boy-like person emerges from a geode.
And this is the last time the world ends.

Some worldbuilding keywords: stonelore, stone eaters, sessapinae (sense organs), obelisks, Father Earth. The man who destroys the world contacts his fellow slaves.

Chapter 1
Essun is grieving for Uche, her dead son. She stopped the Yumenes earthquake destroying the town, but didn't save the nearby town of Sume. Essun is an orogene (earthquake controller), as is Uche. Orogenes are hated, nicknamed "roggas". The townsfolk think it reasonable that Jija killed his son, Uche, because Uche was a rogga. Lerna, the doctor educated elsewhere, doesn't share this prejudice. Essun decides to leave Tirimo.

Questions: do you get a sense of place of Tirimo? Does the author do enough to show you what the place and people were like before the Yumenes disaster? Does it matter that you have little context for the events in these two chapters, and what they mean? Is this hampering or heightening your enthusiasm for the book?

I suggest new readers don't read the appendices yet, or perhaps at all until the end of the book. I enjoyed discovering the world as it unfolded through the story.

Comments

  • 1

    I don't really get a sense of place, yet. In my imagination, everything is rocky. But that doesn't affect my enthusiasm much - place needs to build slowly, and I'm used to letting such things unfold. I am getting a feel for culture at least.

    As for getting in with the book, there are many unanswered questions from the prologue - not sure why this needs to be so cryptic. Also, the writing seems a bit... I don't know... like it's trying hard to be cool. I'm not sure how well I'll get along with this, but we'll see - lots of book to go, still, and I may well end up settling into it or changing my mind.

    The word 'sess' is used a few times and I guess this is similar to UK 'suss' (which I think comes from 'assess').

  • 1

    @Apocryphal said:
    I don't really get a sense of place, yet. In my imagination, everything is rocky. But that doesn't affect my enthusiasm much - place needs to build slowly, and I'm used to letting such things unfold. I am getting a feel for culture at least.

    It was the culture aspect I was aim towards in the question. Obviously, things are changing: does one have a sense of what they're changing from?

    The word 'sess' is used a few times and I guess this is similar to UK 'suss' (which I think comes from 'assess').

    It's "use of the sessapinae sense organs." I've no idea of the (invented) etymology.

  • 1
    I get an impression of a hostile landscape meaning rituals of survival and the community are important, and life is cheap.

    And the extreme prejudice by most against orogenes, who seem like the only ones who might be able to help.

    Writing fiction in second person is jarring, but from my previous read it made things quite immediate when I settled in. I hope the slow read doesn't harm the settling in process (though from what I recall it's not all written that way, but I may be misremembering).
  • 0

    From the map / description I kept thinking "Gondwanaland" but clearly that's more like a beginning end than an end end. Then I decided that maybe the Earth (I am assuming it is on Earth) has been around sufficiently long that it has recapitulated said super-continent.

    I wasn't sure why orogenes would be disliked / distrusted / whatever since (like @dr_mitch ) I felt they should be in the best position to mitigate disaster, just as Essun did.

    Sense of place? Not much, but I'm very happy to stay with the not-knowing as the world is unfolded. I don't mind that as a story-telling technique, though I'm not sure I would do it nearly so much myself.

    "sess" - for entirely obscure reasons I kept thinking of Larry Niven's "sessile grogs" where the word means "stationary", in contrast to "mobile"... but said creatures do attach themselves to rocks so maybe my association was not so far-fetched? But basically I saw this as a coined word rather like Heinlein's "grok" where the meaning is kind of obvious from context - I think this position is basically the same as that of @Apocryphal

  • 1

    The Prologue seemed like the first “moves” in Microscope. Just enough development to jump in and run a larger scene (Chapter 1).

    I don’t at all mind this mosaic style of revealing the world, if it eventually reveals to us a coherent world. I enjoy discovering backstory, etc, in the course of the fiction. One thing I don’t like — and I don’t know enough yet whether that’s going to happen here — is setting up “weird” stuff, including terminology, without ever resolving it. If the “gun” that is shown in the first act is eventually fired, I’m happy; it doesn’t even have to be in the next act.

  • 1

    Not sure I like the 'too cool for school' narration. Probably not, but it may be a minor thing over all. It may not be so overwhelming in later chapters. Sense of place? Not so much right now.

  • 1

    I really enjoyed the style of the writing. I'm not 100% certain why I connected with this, and am excited to learn more, when I often bounce off cryptic world building. Maybe it's because the fantastical setting is described using a pretty standard vocabulary (except for "sess" of course).

    I don't know if it's exactly a "sense of place" but I do get a very strong sense of stakes right from the beginning. I know that earthquakes are going to be a threat, but that society's cruelty will be one also.

    (I was sick last week, so I'm catching up.)

  • 1

    Also, another observation I had was that the strong, distinctive narrator's voice teases the idea that the narrator will be a character and the fact of the narration will figure into the story itself. I'm a sucker for stories that exist within themselves.

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