Review: The Obelisk Gate

Posted 14 June, 2019 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2)
By: N.K. Jemisin
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase


The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring ñ madman, world-crusher, savior ñ has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.

So I read the first book sometime before my exams and meant to continue onward but then I was so busy getting ready for my holiday, and then of course busy when I returned (and distracted by all the other books I picked up while I was on holiday) that I didn’t get around to continuing the trilogy until now.

As a disclaimer, I really did wish I just continued reading right after the end of the first book. There is a lot of detail to Jemisin’s storytelling and world, which is not a drawback whatsoever!, but it does mean that I didn’t find it quite so easy to slip back into the story. So there was a bit of a disconcerting feeling trying to recall what happened in the previous novel, the details of who does what, why these people don’t like those people, etc.

The return of Alabaster really throws a wrench into things because aside from merely surviving, Essun now has someone from her past just adding to the complications and drawing her in to the larger task of saving the world. Danger is ever present as the comm that Essun is currently staying at is also struggling to survive. I’m always intrigued at how the author is able to weave lore and the dire reality and details of their own abilities and the present Season into the story, conveying that sense of threat to their survival quite acutely.

I admit, I found Nassun’s story less interesting, particularly when she entered her training, but again the author did a wonderful job of conveying that mindset, of the daughter who loved and favoured her father and who was estranged with her mother. It’s always a bit hard to read that flipside knowing what Essun has gone through. I guess her story–like Essun’s story in the first book when it recounted her training–doesn’t interest me as much since I’m just completely done with stories that have a school setting or the protagonist is training in their abilities.

Overall The Obelisk Gate expanded on the world and the dangers occurring as the Season deepens and lengthens. I’m curious to see how everything unfolds and resolves in the last novel.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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