The Obelisk Gate

The Obelisk Gate

Book - 2016
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"Essun--once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger--has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever. Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power--and her choices will break the world"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Orbit, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316229265
Branch Call Number: FICTION Jem
Description: 433 pages : map ; 21 cm


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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.

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haushallmartinez Apr 11, 2019

haushallmartinez thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Dec 16, 2018

Natashastales thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


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haushallmartinez Apr 11, 2019

Violence: Child abuse


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