Early edition cover art: Unknown
Themes: Racism, Nature of Strength, Apocalypse
It is for novels like "The Fifth Season" that many literary societies put Science Fiction and Fantasy together into a single grouping. On the one hand, it is clearly a fantasy - we have a medieval realm with the equivalent of magicians who keep the peace and protect the kingdom from the earthquakes with which it is cursed with the help of unexplained crystals. On the other hand, the power in which those magicians deal is not random, but describes a natural process well known to science and the people who control the magicians do so by means of a technological implant in their brains.
No matter what box you put "The Fifth Season" into, it is an impressive work. Like "The Aeronaut's Windlass" this book has that same 'first in a new series' kiss of death on its cover. But unlike "Windlass," "The Fifth Season" overcomes that handicap by telling a rich back-story in an effective way through the use of a very creative plot device. Furthermore, the issues with which the characters grapple have more relevance, by analogy, to today's world and more significance in theirs. Quite frankly, where "Windlass" was simply fun, "The Fifth Season" has something to say and says it well, despite the sudden ending.
While I wouldn't put "The Fifth Season" ahead of "Uprooted" for my top vote, it is a worthy contender and definitely goes ahead of "No Award."