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The Obelisk Gate

The Obelisk Gate

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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Apr 21, 2021

A bit slow going but the ending was great. I will most likely read the next book

LoganLib_Sheridan Mar 30, 2021

Somehow this book manages to be even more full on than the previous book in the series. There's a bit of fluffing around towards the end, before the climax, but as always Jemisin keeps you on the edge of your seat.

We get to read from Nassun's perspective which is interesting. Sometimes I just kind of want to strangle her or lock her in a room with her mother so they can figure things out. I get being frustrated with your parents but throw in orogeny and you're on a whole other level. To be fair though Jija is an idiot.

Essun definitely gets her worldview shifted in this book and of course Alabaster does a lot of the shifting but we get to meet some non-fulcrum trained orogenies and see how they taught themselves and what they learned.

I'm still not entirely sure who is on what side though I'm assuming since Essun is the main character and she has her goal given to her by Alabaster and supported by Hoa that this is the side we should be supporting too. I just don't know who else is on their team.

The ending was just an absolute climax as usual so I really need to get into the next book ASAP to see if YES I DID JUST READ THAT!

Mar 19, 2021

Awesome second instalment in the trilogy, at least as good as the first book if not better! You really do need to have read the first book (The Fifth Season) to appreciate this one. Among the best sci-fi/fantasy I have ever read!

Hillsboro_RobP Dec 16, 2020

Jemisin resumes her take on Evil Earth, breathing more life into her world of Orogenes, Guardians, and Rock Eaters with deep explanations and a plot that spins in a tightening orbit around familiar protagonists and new villains. It's different than the first volume: not quite as mysterious, not quite as finite, but it adds a great deal of tension and turns the pages quickly with conflict and fear. Her ability to fit fiction relevant to the modern reader seamlessly into her tale is unmatched.

Dec 14, 2020

I found this novel to be a very strong follow up to The Fifth Season- which, on the surface, seems like an extremely difficult task. Sophomore efforts often feel like filler, or take the story far off course from the direction and feel of the first. Jemisin continues the story without a hitch, giving us more of the characters that we loved (or loved to hate) from the first; Essun, Alabaster, Schaffa, Tonkee and Hoa, and we get brand new characters and perspectives in Nassun, Jija, Ykka, Hjarka, and many others. The story jumps back in between Essun and Nassun- Essun finds the comm of Castrima, and finds a home among the orogenes and stills that reside there, and learns from Alabaster how to control the obelisks. Nassun and her father's story follows their journey from Tirimo to the comm of Found Moon in the south, where Nassun can hone her skills and learn from orogenes and guardians alike about her powers. The second person narrative was easier to get into this time, and I found myself heavily invested in the story. The story itself was so immersive that at times I had a hard time getting into it, but then also had a hard time putting it down. There were some slow points mid-way, but the last hundred pages or so were riveting. I will definitely be rounding out the trilogy sometime soon.

PimaLib_ChristineR Jul 07, 2020

The Obelisk Gate, the second in The Broken Earth series, is a bit slower paced than The Fifth Season, but once I got into the pace, and focused on the characters, I couldn't put it down. It took me about two weeks to get through the first 80 pages or so, and then two days to get through the other 300. The Obelisk Gate moves from the backstory leading up to the rift of The Fifth Season, and focuses on the Season which has just begun. The Fifth Season, or "Season" with a capital "S" is a season of sudden catastrophic change and death, but this may be the first one caused on purpose. Everyone is beginning to realize that this Season will not be a few years, in fact it may not end for thousands of years, so the question becomes, why did Alabaster do it? Why did he rip a hole through the center of the continent? Jemisin slowly reveals those answers, the players, their underlying conflict and more about orogeny throughout the novel.

With the slower pace, Jemisin has the time to address timeless issues, like "what is love?". As we follow Nassun, we learn that her mother Essun has broken her hand, just as Essun's hand was broken when she was younger; both done out of "love." Jemisin comes back to this idea again and again. Nassun wants to help Schaffa, to keep him from hurting, but he refuses. She thinks to herself, "If she hurts him because she loves him, is that still hurt? If she hurts him a lot now so that he will hurt less later, does that make her a terrible person?" It is only her memory of her mother breaking her hand and saying "If you can control yourself through pain, I know you're safe" that turns her away from the path of force.

Nassun, Essun, and Schaffa all want to be better people, they all want to NOT hurt other people, but Jemisin questions whether that is always possible. Essun kills someone because they were trying to harm a child. Will her own mental traumas allow her to choose a kind path? When her community votes on who gets to stay or leave, Essun uses the threat of violence to get her way, telling them "no part of this comm gets to decide that any other part of this comm is expendable. No voting on who gets to be people." That seems like a worthy goal, but was this the only way to get there? Jemisin certainly doesn't answer that question for the reader, but leaves it up to us to decide.

Besides all that deep philosophical/psychological stuff, the changes wrought by a Season biologically are also amazingly developed. How do animals fail, survive, and some even thrive when the environment changes so drastically in so short a time? How do humans adjust their lives and communities, enforcing their own natural selection.

In other words, The Obelisk Gate won the Hugo Award, not necessarily because of the sci-fi future Jemisin has envisioned for us, but because like all great sci-fi, she has focused on what that future means for humans, in ways big and small. Altogether a fascinating and multi-layered read.

Michael Colford Jun 16, 2020

The Obelisk Gate is part two of The Shattered Earth Trilogy, and with uncanny imagination and detailed knowledge, author N.K. Jemisin continues to build a world that is complex, wondrous and unforgiving. The story picks up pretty much where the riveting first part (The Fifth Season) ended, Essun has discovered a hidden underground society, the world's ecosystem is collapsing because of the actions of her one time teacher and lover, Alabaster Tenring. Nassun is still desperate to find her daughter, Nassun, who had been spirited away by her former husband after he had murdered their son. What Essun doesn't realize is that Nsasun has become involved with Schaffa, the Guardian who almost killed Essun (more than once) in the name of protection.

The storyline is complicated, but that's what makes it so compelling, along with the strong-willed assortment of fascinating characters that populate this world. With the literal destruction of the planet on the line, and immense power being bandied about by individuals, the stakes are high. And what about the mysterious Stone Eaters? Will they help humanity or destroy it?

Jemisin's imagination seems boundless, and her writing is top notch. Detailed and emotional, yet infused with an urgency that propels the reader ever onward. I usually take a break between parts of a series, and I have to because I don't have the third volume at hand, but I've ordered it and will start as soon as it arrives!

Apr 19, 2020

2nd book of trilogy

Mar 12, 2020

recommended by TOR. book 2

Jan 24, 2020

2nd book in The Broken Earth Trilogy

RyanR_KCMO Nov 08, 2019

Book two in the Broken Earth trilogy. Starts fast with a bit of a slump in the middle, the payoff is in the finish. I can not wait to get into the final volume. Jemisin is amazing.

This is what the best Sci-Fi looks like.

IndyPL_SteveB Sep 11, 2019

Terrifically tense and exciting sequel to *The Fifth Season*. All three books in this fantasy series won the Hugo Award for best novel.

Jemisin’s world might be a far-future version of the Earth, when all of the continents have drifted back together into one land mass. Humanity is barely hanging on, because the forces of the moving tectonic plates, volcanoes, and earthquakes frequently destroy parts of civilization. Each one of these events can be so devastating that the atmospheric effects can last for decades, in what people call “Fifth Seasons.” In the second book, we discover that Jemisin has developed a fantasy solution for a science fiction problem – around 25,000 years previously an earlier civilization developed a super weapon to kill their enemies. A misuse of this weapon caused the moon to change its orbit so that it is rarely seen. The loss of the moon apparently began the Fifth Seasons.

While the tension and action is nearly unstoppable, the characters again hold our attention. It is often difficult to know who is supposed to be saving the world and who destroying it, because we really don’t understand the motivations of the various survivors. All of the main characters are deeply dangerous and capable of killing large numbers of people. A magnificent series.

haushallmartinez Apr 11, 2019

The second book in the series. Jemisin does some amazing world building, with deep history and metaphysics that follow well, and believable characters. There's great depth here, and an awe-inspiring story.

I'll also add that I listened to the audio version, and Robin Miles as narrator is AMAZING. She uses different but consistent accents and tones for each character, making it easy to tell them apart, and greatly enhances listening to the story.

As a note (and I'll put this over in the warnings), there's a lot of child abuse in the first book. Like, a lot. Like, "I did not realize that was a trigger for me" a lot. The second book sees less, and it is mostly a mention in the third book, but it's very much present.

Mar 23, 2019

This second installment in the trilogy focuses on the parallel mother-daughter Essen-Nassun story-lines, since the grand plot-line, major characters and backstory are already known. The character development is quite compelling and it provides an insightful exploration of different aspects of authority, leadership, loyalty, interpersonal relations and prejudice. However, unlike the first book it doesn’t really introduce much new in the way of speculative ideas. The only “scientific” flavour comes from some sparse geological references, so the “Science Fiction” designation is questionable (especially with the occasional faux pas, such as suggesting that the stars at night are different when viewed from a different longitude). For hard-core SF fans it presents many cringe worthy challenges to suspending disbelief, but for fantasy fans that’s not a problem. Overall an excellent and memorable read.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Dec 21, 2018

Not quite as. Wonderful as The Fifth Season...but close. So looking forward to finding out what comes next. A first rate fantasy series, with a really unique narrative structure.

Dec 16, 2018

The world-building is phenomenal. I loved how Jemisin wrote Nassun. I wanted to know what her character flaw was and boy was it relatable. Essun may have gotten on my nerves sometimes, but that is what makes her real. This is truly an incredible tale. The 2nd book gives you more to dive into and clearly explains the stone eaters and obelisk, without over doing it. Sometimes it seemed as if I could read a book about Alabaster and Essun by itself. The characters are very welldeveloped.

Nov 13, 2018


This is the second book in the Broken Sky trilogy, and it just keeps getting better. This book does not disappoint; it pulls you in and makes you gasp and lean forward in your seat in order to find out just where this is going.
CHARACTERS: Essun is dealing with finding her daughter, Nassun, dealing with her dying mentor and with her stone eater friend. Schaffa, on the other hand, is really creepy, in the way that you never really know what he is thinking, and he is probably the character that I find the most interesting, even though I find Essun the most empathizable.
PLOT: Essun trains to use the floating obelisks to lasso the moon with orogeny. Meanwhile, the underground city is threatened by rivals and natural fire-explosive-bug-things. Oh, and lots of crazy scientific/magic things happen again that you can really only understand if you read the book. Trust me, this plot is good. Really good.
ACCURACY: I really like (and I said this for Fifth Season) how this world just combines science and magic. I really wouldn’t know where to shelve it, under Fantasy or SciFi (They’re on my SciFi shelf just because I have no room on my Fantasy shelf) because science and magic can’t be separated.
RECOMMENDATION: Five out of Five. Definitely for a more mature audience. This book is really good, and the shifts in perspective may be a little confusing at first, but only add to the novel as a whole.

Oct 07, 2017

Jumped into this series with this 2nd volume; liked the writing which is almost poetic and the characters who are alien but familiar in their motivations and feelings. Great range of vision and inventiveness in the story and handled very well in the writing. Raises important questions without hitting you over the head with them. Summary: I went in skeptical that it might be too much fantasy versus sci-fi for me but was totally won over by the end of the book.

Oct 03, 2017

How do you write an amazing review of an amazing book without giving anything away? This. Is. More. Epic..? Hmmm.... I have to say it is one of the few books that weaves fantasy and science fiction elements together very well... very very well... :)

Feb 19, 2017

This second book in the series explores how people behave in a civilization under pressure to survive during a cataclysmic breakdown of the environment. Millennia in the future, Earth has gender, skin colour, and sexual orientation equality, yet the society is riven by racism directed towards the orogenes, humans who have evolved unusual powers and are kept under control and exploited by masters called Guardians. Orogenes evoke hatred and fear, yet they are the means to salvation. The book also explores leadership, tribalism, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and prejudice. Rich in detail and character development, the plot unfolds at a more leisurely pace than the first book, as more is revealed about the floating obelisks, how Earth came to be in its volcanically unstable state, and what it might take to permanently stabilize or destroy it, with forces aligned on each side. Once again, I am left eager to read the next book and to seek out more of Ms. Jemisin’s fine writing.

Jan 28, 2017

I think it's better than the first in the series. Characters are developed further, the stakes are higher, consequences direr. It continues in its darkness and there are no heros. The protaganist is flawed but sympathetic. August 2017 is the projected release date for the third in the Broken Earth series. Can't wait.

This is one of the better series of fantasy books I have read. The world and characters are built to last, and the story line is not slow and plodding. The questions brought to mind about our humanness are intriguing. Love how all the factors of how the world really works are brought to life.

AliReads Sep 28, 2016

The stunning sequel to The Fifth Season, delving deeper into the way this fantasy world works (or doesn't work, as the case may be) full of tragedy, hidden histories, desperate grasps at survival, and utterly fantastic powerful women.

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