The Families in their underground fortresses have little interest in the world above, although they did offer aid to the first Larossan refugees who came to their lands due to their ancient mandate to preserve humanity. When the Anvarrid invaders eventually conquered Larossa they chose to negotiate with them rather than fight and risk the last six fortresses built by the Founders. In exchange for being mostly independent they vowed to give up their secret languages and technologies and spend their first three years as adults guarding the Anvarrid nobility. They make exceptional guards due to the high number of psychics, called sensitives, among them and the mental discipline required by anyone living with empaths. An uneasy peace has now existed between these three cultures for almost two centuries.
Everyone agrees that Lucinda should have been born a witch, with her personality and obsession with the Fire Guild. Or was she born a witch? Unaware that she's putting herself on the frontline of the coming war with the neighboring Empire she petitions the Fire Warlock for assistance in finding a husband. Living in his fortress with access to his library and studying with the handsome flame mage Sven is a dream come true except Lucinda keeps having nightmares. The King is convinced that the Fire Warlock, Quicksilver, is a power hungry wizard holding back the nobility out of spite and Lucinda has learned that the situation is hopelessly complicated. The Office of the Western Gate, that grants the Fire Warlock the ability to draw on the power of the volcano Storm King, is a magical construct known as a Lock. The Fire Warlock is charged with protecting the border and if the Warlock fails to act the Lock will simply incinerate him and pass the mandate to his successor. Above all, the Lock will maintain the sovereignty of Frankland, even if the inability to surrender in a war means their utter destruction. If only there was another warlock with the gift to craft Locks who could fix things because the seers agree that Quicksilver won't be the Warlock much longer.
Isao Ryotora is dispatched to the remote mining village of Seibo Mura following a bizarre attack by various creatures from the spirit realm known as yokai. As a shugenji, one who can communicate with the kami, Ryotora is not a warrior and he has little experience dealing with yokai. Not that anyone has really dealt with a situation like this before where so many unrelated yokai went from simple harassment to murderous destruction over the three nights of the full moon. The entire situation is made even more uncomfortable due to the presence of a scholarly samurai of an influential family, Asako Sekkin. His elegant manners only remind Ryotora that he was born a peasant in this very village before being adopted into a samurai family, but Sekkin is determined to help Ryotora with his investigation. This is because he has been plagued by a dog spirit that has allowed him no rest until he arrived in Seibo Mura. A great evil is rising but with Sekkin's knowledge of yokai folklore and Ryotora's skills as a shugenji they might be able to unravel the secret history of this place and save the empire.
The Stone Eaters aren't exactly human but the fate of humanity is in their hands. Now that Alabaster has set into motion a plan to return the Earth to its former state, where Fifth Seasons don't happen at all, it has forced the Stone Eaters to take sides. One side is supporting Essun and her quest to finish what Alabaster started, which means returning the Moon to its former orbit around the planet. The other faction is seeking to prevent Essun from doing so and hoping to instead crash the Moon into the Earth so they can finally achieve peace by ending their dreary immortal lives. Of course they will need the help of an Oregene even more powerful than Essun to pull this off and they just happen to have one. Things are going to get awfully messy when Essun finds out that the Orogene supporting those Stone Eaters, and standing in the way of her attempt to save the planet, is her own daughter.
Book one of the Broken Earth trilogy, The Fifth Season, established a rich world with the unique characteristic of having a fifth season that occurs every so often in addition to the normal four. These seasons bring with them earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and acid rain from ash-choked air and they last for many years. Humanity survives by adopting Seasonal Law, a harsh culling of society down to only those who provide a valuable services and skills, along with the magic of Orogenes that do their best to control the shakes and divert the forces of the land away from communities. Alabaster, a ten-ring Orogene, finally reveals at the end of the first book that Fulcrum teaching is all wrong and that trained Orogenes, like himself and Essun, are just treating the symptoms and not the cause. He now knows the cause of these fifth seasons and he has taken the first step to address it. Unfortunately his effort has altered him in such a way that he is now dying and no longer capable of going any further, so he asks Essun to take the next step. Is she willing to believe his mad theory and sign up for the same fate as him?
Nahadoth, a being of darkness and chaos, was alone until Itempas, a being of light and order, joined him. They were both overjoyed to have a companion, and eventually they were joined by a third god, Enefa. With her to provide balance they were able to create the world and humans to worship them. They also discovered that by mingling their energy they could create lesser gods that contained various attributes of their parents. Nahadoth was change itself, but for Itempas, the god of law and order, change was something to be feared and there came a time when Enefa could no longer maintain peace between them. In an effort to return to their earlier happiness Itempas kills Enefa but this only results in Nahadoth vowing revenge. The human world is broken in this war between the gods until eventually Itempas emerges as the victor. Nahadoth and his children and bound by Itempas to serve the family of his favored priestess, the Arameri.
The world known as The Stillness has the same four seasons as we do but it also has a fifth season that is very different from the usual four. The fifth season does not happen every year, in fact it can be over a hundred years between occurrences, but when it does come it lasts for many years. Unfortunately, so do the earthquakes, volcanoes, and acid rain that come along with it. Humans survive these harsh periods by following Stonelore that keeps each Comm prepared with food and supplies. The Orogenes also make a difference. Oregenes are magic users that are highly attuned to the earth and have the ability to influence the tectonic forces that plague the planet. The Fulcrum teaches this magical art and assigns rings to its students as they progress in Orogenic power. However, the combined might of the Fulcrum can't stop the fifth seasons from happening and one such season is about to start. All signs indicate it is going to be a long one.
Sarantium is the most greatest city in the known world. But few can imagine traveling a great distance so to say someone is sailing to Sarantium means they are making a great change and perhaps completely abandoning the life they knew. The mosaicist Crispin is starting that journey both literally and figuratively. He's drifting through life since losing his family in a plague when he receives a commission from the Sarantine Emperor to decorate the ceiling of the great chapel he's having built. This ordinary artist sets out on a journey that will travel through lands steeped in ancient myths and the dangerous heights of imperial politics before finding himself in an artistic work that should be known throughout the known world.
The Stormlight Archive continues with Rhythm of War, which is unbelievably even bigger than the first 3 books, both in number of pages (1,232) and scope of story. The war between humanity and the Dawnsingers has been waged back and forth for millennia in waves known as Desolations which are separated by centuries of rebuilding for the human civilizations that always get ravaged. This time around is different though as the Heralds who always lead humanity against the Dawnsingers are no more. They declared victory after the Last Desolation and have lain down their weapons for good. Of course the Dawnsingers were not defeated and now that they have returned yet again they find their human opponents woefully unprepared. Despite this disadvantage, Dalinar Kohlin has managed to lead a coalition of forces to keep them at bay but in his heart he knows he can't win a traditional war. Therefore he is looking for a way to strike a killing blow that ends this endless cycle of war for good, but unfortunately for him, so is the enemy, and they know a lot more about this conflict than he does.
Evie is a an orphan who grew up in the palace as a poor relation of Queen Cordelia. It might have been different if she could boast of powerful magic but all she has is one of the mutt magics, in her case a magically keen sense of smell. She wanted to boast of her secret immunity to magic but as she grew up she realized her parents were right and that it would be dangerous to say anything about it. So she spent her time performing whatever tasks none of the other royals want to do until the day Crown Princess Vasilia decided to take the throne for herself leaving alive no one to challenge her claim. Saved by her immunity, and assumed dead by her cousin, Evie finds herself in the gladiator troupe owned by Queen Cordelia's former bodyguard, Serilda. Uncertain if she can trust Serilda, Evie is determined to gain the skills that would allow her to get vengeance on her cousin who is a master with the sword. But the Black Swan gladiator troupe has just as many rivalries and secrets as the palace did.