The Obelisk Gate

July 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

gateThe Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin


After the brilliance of The Fifth Season, I was hesitant to get my hopes up too much for its sequel. Sometimes trilogies that start off strong can peter out over the course of the remaining books, and I didn’t want to have too high expectations to appreciate the novel. I shouldn’t have worried, as Jemisin brings the same attention to detail and character to The Obelisk Gate as she did with The Fifth Season.

The book picks up right after the events of The Fifth Season, continuing to tell Essun’s tale. We still have the alternating chapters, some of them told in the second person, but that second person narration is now more than just a stylistic choice. It wasn’t in The Fifth Season, though that wasn’t apparent at first, but here that choice becomes more apparent.

Essun, now a part of a new comm, is continuing to learn new abilities and growing her strength. That this new comm is made up of orogenes who work out in the open is encouraging, as is the fact that she finds Alabaster again, after ten years. Now that the Earth is entering its latest, longest season, the different comms are preparing for the worst, which means they’re fighting each other for the supplies they’ll need during the hibernation.

Despite Essun finding a comm, and losing her lead on Nassun, her daughter, the story is still about her search for her daughter. In this book, we get to hear Nassun’s story from her perspective, seeing how she feels about Essun, Jija, and everyone else who orbits her life. It’s shocking in some ways, heart-breaking in others, but above all it’s engaging, especially when we consider how the reunion between them will go (because the way the story is going, there has to be a reunion).

The story is shaping up to be a tragedy, which is to be expected. After Essun lost two children in the previous book, lost her remaining daughter to an unstable husband, and after Alabaster set out to destroy the Earth, there’s no way it could be otherwise, but Jemisin still gives us hope — hope of reunion, hope of redemption, and hope of a better Earth. Whether she continues this trend with The Stone Sky is yet to be seen, but she’s bucked expectations up to this point, so why have any regarding the third book?

The Broken Earth is shaping up to be my favorite read of the year, and N.K. Jemisin is shaping up to be a new favorite author. I regret not reading her fiction in publication order, because I get the feeling her other novels will be shades of this series, but I plan on reading all of her work. She’s just too good a writer to do otherwise.

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