The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS... FOR THE LAST TIME.The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – 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.

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2) Details

TitleThe Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 18th, 2016
PublisherOrbit
ISBN-139780356508368
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2) Review

  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    So I listened to this the first time on audio instead of reading my paperback. As most of you know I only like doing re-reads on audio because I miss too much on first time reads but it's all good. Once again, even though I didn't understand all that was going on (same thing happened when I read the first book by paperback) some of the time I still loved it. I'm so weird that way. 😳Nassun is off with her horrible father and some peeps and her mother, Essun is off doing her thing. These books are So I listened to this the first time on audio instead of reading my paperback. As most of you know I only like doing re-reads on audio because I miss too much on first time reads but it's all good. Once again, even though I didn't understand all that was going on (same thing happened when I read the first book by paperback) some of the time I still loved it. I'm so weird that way. 😳Nassun is off with her horrible father and some peeps and her mother, Essun is off doing her thing. These books are so bizarre to me but still so good. So and so wants to set the Earth straight by getting the moon back. It was flung out yonder somewhere when something happened. There is some kind of rift and other cray stuff. I thought they wanted Essun to grab the moon on the way back around but then Nassun was talking about doing it at the end. They really shouldn't have named them so close because I kept getting confused at who was who for a minute. Anyway, they have to snag the moon and < --- you know what? Just read the books 😄 I love them so far. The last one is out in August and we shall see what will become of this world and the people. I hope it something good!
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  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    2.5/5 StarsBuddy read with the lovely Melanie!The Obelisk Gate just won the Hugo Award 2017 for Best Novel of the year category, and coincidentally, I finished reading the book on the same day the result of the award was announced. Sadly, it’s not a happy coincidence because I highly disagree with it.This is probably the most unpopular opinion I ever wrote so far. At the time of posting this review, out of 12470 ratings, less than 200 readers rated this book below 3 stars, I am one of them. I lo 2.5/5 StarsBuddy read with the lovely Melanie!The Obelisk Gate just won the Hugo Award 2017 for Best Novel of the year category, and coincidentally, I finished reading the book on the same day the result of the award was announced. Sadly, it’s not a happy coincidence because I highly disagree with it.This is probably the most unpopular opinion I ever wrote so far. At the time of posting this review, out of 12470 ratings, less than 200 readers rated this book below 3 stars, I am one of them. I loved The Fifth Season, very much. It’s a work of a genius and I gave it 4.5 stars. Believe me when I say that I truly wish I could love this book the same way but I just can’t. I am severely disappointed with it and as usual, I will always be honest with my ratings and reviews regardless of the majority’s opinions, so here it is.To summarize my mixed feelings about this book, The Obelisk Gate is majorly inflicted with the infamous second book syndrome. For reasons I can’t mention to avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that the first book has the advantage of being fresh in every element Jemisin implemented and in my opinion, she failed to live up to it. It’s not a surprise, I knew right after finishing the first book that the second book won’t be as good, but I just didn’t expect it to be this much.Told only from two main POV and one minor POV, Essun’s POV is where I had tons of problems with. Within the first 70% of the book, her story is heavily filled with tons of info dump fired off at rapid succession, and I know I’ll forget most of them within a week after reading. Some of them are interesting for sure, but I was mindlessly bored reading her POV. Few revelations to the story aside, there’s nothing interesting out of Essun’s POV this time for me, her character doesn’t develop much, she resides only in one location throughout the whole book, and admittedly I actually fell asleep reading her story and had to force myself reading through it. When some actions did appear in the end, the damage has been done and I can’t bring myself to care anymore towards anything that happens in her story at this point because of how stagnant her character development has been compared to before.The other major problems I had with the book this time lies within Essun’s second person present tense narrative. In the first book, it’s understandable to use this choice of narration for her POV, I feel like there’s no reason to use it again in the second book, can’t tell you why for spoiler reasons again. Plus, in the first book, the story was told from three main POV’s switching back and forth equally, with the other two characters done in third person perspective narration, Essun’s narration style didn’t felt as distracting, instead it felt fresh to go back to because there was enough break between her and the other characters chapter. In here, there are only two main POV, reading Essun’s second person present tense perspective style in heavy dose is really something I can’t tolerate.It’s not all bad of course because I thoroughly enjoyed reading the other main POV. To make my review completely spoiler-free, I won’t even mention the name of this character but the storyline that was told from this character is amazing. Full of character developments; deal with tons of Xenophobia topic, and also, in my opinion, the most important aspect in preparation for the third book. This character also shed some light and complexity to Schaffa’s character. Another positive part of the book is that the world-building is still great. The Stillness is a post-apocalyptic setting done right in high fantasy. Basically, the other main POV and the world-building are the only factors that stopped me from DNFing this book. That said, I will continue to read the Stone Sky because everything in this book is truly a setup for the final installment and I’m still intrigued to find out how it all ends. However, even if the third book ended up being something I thoroughly enjoyed like The Fifth Season, I know this is a trilogy that I won’t be rereading again in the future. All opinions are based only on my experience, the high chances are that you’ll have a different experience from me, and I sincerely hope that you love this more than me. I am basically on a lonely island screaming “I don’t like this book” to Spongebob and Patrick right now.You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
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  • Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
    January 1, 1970
    I thought I wasn't going to like this one as much as the first book. The pace was a bit slow... but the ending was great and I'm looking forward to the third one!
  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    Edit 8/11/17HUGO WINNER for 2017!!!!! That's the second one in a row for the SAME series! :) And since I've already read the third one and squealed all over it, I'm going on a limb and calling it three Hugos in a row.Don't hate me if I'm right! :)Original review:My mind cannot stop dancing with joy after reading this. You might say that I'm dancing with Father Earth, enjoying the reveals as one would enjoy the unearthing of so many gems of storytelling awesomeness.The world-building is still sha Edit 8/11/17HUGO WINNER for 2017!!!!! That's the second one in a row for the SAME series! :) And since I've already read the third one and squealed all over it, I'm going on a limb and calling it three Hugos in a row.Don't hate me if I'm right! :)Original review:My mind cannot stop dancing with joy after reading this. You might say that I'm dancing with Father Earth, enjoying the reveals as one would enjoy the unearthing of so many gems of storytelling awesomeness.The world-building is still sharp as ever, and so many questions have answers in this second book. We're given an amazing shape for amazing things to come. I'm not merely or only shaken to my core by the amazing scenes of earth alteration, depth of histories, or revealed enormity of what is really going on, here; actually, I'm left in awe by the scope and the careful planning and execution of the Author's Mad Skillz.Essun and Nassun are wonderful characters, of course, and there are times when Nassun almost steals the spotlight for me, but here's the real surprise: I can't believe how awesome Hoa's story is turning out to be, or that of all the Stone Eaters. This is what SF designed for. Awe. Shocking audacity. Scope and Vision. Rocking Ideas. So we're descending further than geological processes, headed straight into the quantum loam. :) I'm laughing my head off with Alabaster's thrown bone when he describes the spaces between atoms, the networking forces, as "Magic". :) Of course, any sufficiently advanced technology that allows men and women to become effectively immortal and not constrained by matter is Magic, right, Stone Eaters? lolEssun continues to transform even more than her previous love, Alabaster, and it's a deep process that's nearly continental in it's impact, but that's where most of my love is going. Nassun's transformation into one hell of an anti-hero nearly matches how much appreciation I have for Schaffa's changes. I sympathize for everyone, and no one is disappointing. :)The final action in this book is dark, that's for certain, but even now I can't stop grinning and being so damn awed by what happened.This is why I read. This is why I'm a fanboy. This BLOWS ME AWAY. :) Hell, this stuff is the stuff of LIFE. :) Totally Awesome! Book 2? It may not be as mind-altering as the first, but together, they're something much greater than their parts. :) Now how in hell will I be able to wait for book 3 to find out what happens to the moon? This is breathtaking in conception. :)
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    1.) The Fifth Season ★★★★★Buddy Read with Petrik ❤I finished this book just after it won its Hugo award for the best novel of 2017. This and The Fifth Season are so deserving of the awards and praise they receive. These books leave me wordless, because there is no explaining how much of a meaningful impact these books have on the world, let alone the SFF community. All I can truly say is thank you to N.K. Jemisin for this world, these characters, and these important messages that continue to ren 1.) The Fifth Season ★★★★★Buddy Read with Petrik ❤I finished this book just after it won its Hugo award for the best novel of 2017. This and The Fifth Season are so deserving of the awards and praise they receive. These books leave me wordless, because there is no explaining how much of a meaningful impact these books have on the world, let alone the SFF community. All I can truly say is thank you to N.K. Jemisin for this world, these characters, and these important messages that continue to render me speechless. I also finished this book the same night that white supremacists rallied at Charlottesville and spread their hate in my country. The country that says we are past racism. The country that is constantly telling us that we are the greatest and most forward-thinking country of all time. The country that’s passing this hatred and violence off as “free speech”. “But if you stay, no part of this comm gets to decide that any part of this comm is expendable. No voting on who gets to be people.” Literature does represent our real life. The Broken Earth trilogy makes us feel the things it does because it mimics our world today. It shows us the oppression unapologetically, and this oppression doesn’t just live in this SFF book, it’s in our world right now, even if you’re choosing to keep your eyes closed to it. This series is a masterpiece and I hope you read it, but I also hope you learn from it. The Obelisk Gate picks up where The Fifth Season left off, where earth’s civilization is beginning to prepare for a new Season. What doesn’t kill them quickly, will starve them to death slowly. This book mostly follows Essun, one of the most powerful Orogene in existence, where she is trying to live in a new community in a rather strange location. She meets up with old friends who are now also a part of this community, but her thoughts never stray from her daughter that has been missing since the start of The Fifth Season. Essun is also met with new problems and dilemmas that are so much bigger than the community she is residing in. This is one of the most immersive books I’ve ever read. The narrative of this book just forcefully will pull the reader into this broken world, regardless of if they want to or not. You can’t help all the connections you will feel and form subconsciously. You end up with this experience that just feels so real and so emotionally overwhelming. Plus, I read this with so many tears in my eyes constantly, because even though this earth is trying to kill everyone that inhabits it, it is still the humans that are the terrifying villains. Also, this is the most beautifully crafted diverse cast I’ve ever read in any piece of literature. The representation is just on an entirely differently level. And I believe with my whole heart that every other author out there should aspire to seamlessly create their cast of characters like N.K. Jemisin. On top of the amazing diversity and representation, as a woman, I really sympathize with the underlying theme of motherhood throughout this series. I do not currently have any children, but I’d one day like to, and this book just emphasizes that there is no word to describe the love a mother feels for her child/children. Like, this book is heartbreakingly beautiful, and this constant reminder of how it feels to lose a child is something I can’t put into words. I think that is every parents’ greatest fear and this book doesn’t shy away from that topic ever. The heart of this novel is oppression, but the soul of this novel is that there is nothing a parent wouldn’t do to protect their child. “You serve a higher purpose, little one. Not any single man’s desire—not even mine. You were not made for such petty things.” But this all being said, this book does feel like the second book in a series, and it feels like it’s leading up to what I’m sure will be a perfect ending in The Stone Sky. There wasn’t any filler so to speak, but the events very slowly unraveling to put the pieces in place so that everything makes sense. But please, don’t let that stop you from giving this once in a lifetime series a try. It truly is a masterpiece that deserves all the praise and hype that is bestowed upon it. And speaking of The Stone Sky, I don’t think my body, heart, or soul is ready for this eventual reunion. Yet, I don’t think anything is going to stop me from devouring this book while I’m 35,000 feet in the air come this Tuesday! Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube | Twitch
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  • Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
    January 1, 1970
    ▐ WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARDS 2017 for best novel▐4.5 stars. I see you. "I can't stand Fantasy novels! They're all the same! There are too many characters! It's predictable! Unrealistic! Not diverse!" ← Trust me, I hear you. The Obelisk Gate is different, though, and here's why you should give it a chance : You're very tired of reading the same uninspired writing over and over again? Fear no more! N.K. Jemisin's writing is nothing short of fantastic, with perhaps the best second Person POV I've ev ▐ WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARDS 2017 for best novel▐4.5 stars. I see you. "I can't stand Fantasy novels! They're all the same! There are too many characters! It's predictable! Unrealistic! Not diverse!" ← Trust me, I hear you. The Obelisk Gate is different, though, and here's why you should give it a chance :① You're very tired of reading the same uninspired writing over and over again? Fear no more! N.K. Jemisin's writing is nothing short of fantastic, with perhaps the best second Person POV I've ever read. Indeed she manages to master it so well that we almost forget how rare that is. Sure, I've been a little worried after the ending of The Fifth Season, given that the narrator's identity was spoiled at this time. Yet it made the experience even better for me in the sequel, especially because we got snippets of what this character was feeling, and well... (view spoiler)[I love his stone ass, okay? (hide spoiler)]② You can't stand the sight of these same white, cis, abled, male main characters that Fantasy books force down our throat 99% of the time. Fear no more! I've already praised it in The Fifth Season, but it's rare enough to repeat it endlessly : N.K. Jemisin's world is SO diverse, I love it. Several characters are POC (including the female lead), there is a polyamorous relationship in book 1, a disabled main character, an F/F romance... I'm sure I forget some, but what you need to know is this : the world created by N.K. Jemisin is diverse, and hence realistic. Way to prove how ridiculous it is to think that a full white/cis/straight/etc cast is possible. That's called laziness.③ You've not been awed by a magic system since forever, mostly because they all sound the same, one way or another (they really are). Fear no more! I've read two books in this series now, and I still want to learn more about orogeny, because I find the concept fascinating. Not to mention that the winks to the real world - and environment issues - make it even better.④ You've read 30% of The Fantasy Book and again, you already know how the fucking book will end because hey! You've read it before! Fear no more! The Obelisk Gate offers such an intricate and captivating plot that you won't be bored one second. Trust me. PAGE TURNER ALERT.⑤ If you hate Fantasy casts more often than not, complaining that there are way too many characters to remember, chance are... you're just not reading great Fantasy novels. Indeed what make them insufferable is not the number of characters in my opinion, but the thing that we can't separate them because they all sound the same and don't bring anything more to the story. If every fucking one is flat and unable to interest you, I feel your pain, truly. Fear no more! The Obelisk Gate brings well-rounded secondary characters to life and pictures multi-layered MC I LOVED. Not to mention the amazing characters dynamics that feel so real and moved me something fierce.⑥ HOA. I WILL PROTECT HIM WITH MY LIFE OKAY. Sure, I already liked him in The Fifth Season, but he hit me right in the feels in this one and honestly I'm so emotional just rereading quotes, it's not even funny.Now the real question is : what are you waiting for? Start this series already.For more of my reviews, please visit:
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  • Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
    January 1, 1970
    There's something so special about this series.I'm not going to lie, it's a bit complicated. It takes its sweet time revealing bits and pieces of itself to the reader. The magic isn't always intuitive, the characters' motivations aren't always laid out nicely and neatly. But it's always fascinating and keeps me asking questions. It's not a series I would recommend for those of us without patience. It's unique second person point of view is, again, one of the best uses of this perspective I have There's something so special about this series.I'm not going to lie, it's a bit complicated. It takes its sweet time revealing bits and pieces of itself to the reader. The magic isn't always intuitive, the characters' motivations aren't always laid out nicely and neatly. But it's always fascinating and keeps me asking questions. It's not a series I would recommend for those of us without patience. It's unique second person point of view is, again, one of the best uses of this perspective I have ever seen. It gives you a profound sense of revelation to experience the journey this way.This narrative choice is only complimented by Jemisin's writing style. While reading this series I felt completely rapt, transported directly into this cruel and dying world. It's a startling and enchanting experience. Can I also just say how much I love the diversity in this series. There is so much here that it's difficult to even list it all! Diversity is severely lacking in High Fantasy and Science Fiction, and it's just so refreshing to see so much representation. If I ever hear someone say "But it's hard for me to include diversity in my novel!" then I will absolutely point them in the direction of this series because the inclusivity is flawless.I really only had two noteworthy issues with this installment:1. I feel as though the The Fifth Season is more compelling for a specific reason. There was a very distinctive aspect of the storytelling that, because of events from the first novel, could not be present in The Obelisk Gate.This aspect is one of the reasons I adore The Fifth Season so much, and while Jemisin works incredibly well with where she took her story, it's difficult not to make comparisons.2. This book feels like a middle book. It's great, but not as great as its predecessor. It's packed with more information and less action than the first, but I get the feeling it needed to be that way in order to set up events that will take place in The Stone Sky. Despite these minor issues, I was still incredibly engaged in this story & I'm honestly devastated thinking about waiting until August to see it through. This series is unlike other fantasy series that I have read in the past, and I'm so thrilled to see how it concludes!This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    “The way of the world isn’t the strong devouring the weak, but the weak deceiving and poisoning and whispering in the ears of the strong until they become weak, too.” So... that was good. That was really, really good.I think… I talked about what makes this series special thematically a lot in my review for The Fifth Season. But I genuinely think the core of this series, the thing that makes it so impactful, is how it talks about oppression. I was really looking at orogeny in book one as a met “The way of the world isn’t the strong devouring the weak, but the weak deceiving and poisoning and whispering in the ears of the strong until they become weak, too.” So... that was good. That was really, really good.I think… I talked about what makes this series special thematically a lot in my review for The Fifth Season. But I genuinely think the core of this series, the thing that makes it so impactful, is how it talks about oppression. I was really looking at orogeny in book one as a metaphor for racism, which it is, but I think it also functions as a metaphor for homophobia. There are several scenes here with Nassun & Gija that are basically word-for-word homophobia. “It's not hate that you're seeing. Hate requires emotion. What this woman has simply done is realize that you are a rogga, and decide that you aren't a person, just like that.” In this book, we get povs from three characters; Essun, Nassun, and Schaffa. ➽Essun - Listen, Essun is my wife. I love how mentally strong she is, I love her drily sarcastic inner monologue. I love that she’s written in second person and it somehow works for me. [Oh, and I love that we know who the first-person narrator of this part of her story is.]➽Nassun - Essun’s daughter, who we didn’t get much of in book one, but who I absolutely love. Her character development is so great; I love how she’s forced to learn to be manipulative, to play the emotions of her father and so many others.➽Schaffa - a villain from the first book who is weirdly sympathetic here. I actually think there’s a lot of talent in creating a villain here who is still the villain, decidedly not an antihero, but gains some of your sympathy? God, I like… despised this character in book one and now I’m out here being kind of emo, but still hating him, and it’s really great. One thing that really shocked me here is how invested I got in like, every side character? I sort of jokingly described this book on my twitter as Essun And Her Gay Friends Try To Survive The Apocalypse They Caused and I was kidding but also, am I wrong? There’s Tonkee, a trans lesbian icon and one of the funniest and most endearing characters in this book. There’s Hoa, who is probably not even human and I kind of love him. [He’s so sweet?] There’s Alabaster, who I’ve talked about a lot and I love to cry. Ykka, a literal icon. Antimony, who I can’t decide how to feel about. So many more.Something I really like about this is that the worldbuilding is super well-thought-out - like, it holds up to really intricate analysis - but still not boring or convoluted. I think sometimes authors can be too fascinated by their own magic systems and not fascinated enough by the characters and plot, but guys, I don’t care about magic systems and I was still not bored by a single moment of this book. N.K. Jemisin is talented at building a compelling world [the only flaw is perhaps the cringeworthily bare map] but focuses on the more compelling parts of the narrative. The problem I really had with this book was that it really feels like a middle book. And this is really concerning, because as the #1 middle book defender. It is my belief that a meh middle book will usually lead to a terrible final book. This is true for every goddamn example of a bad middle book that you will come up with. Divergent? The Fifth Wave? The Maze Runner? If it doesn’t follow this pattern it’s probably because the middle book didn’t suck. So basically. Fear.gif.But, you know, I'm 75% through The Stone Sky, and I figured I might as well post this. Wish me luck!Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube
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  • Choko
    January 1, 1970
    *** 4.44 ***I did not wait for a buddy read, because after finishing the first book I HAD TO KNOW!!! I engulfed this one in a day and have to say, despite loving the heck out of it, my thirst to KNOW is not quenched... I need the third book right now, but alas, I will have to wait like a good and patient reader and preorder it, so I can have it as soon as it comes out, if not possible to get it earlier. "..."Life cannot exist without the Earth.Yet there is a not-unsubstantiated chance that life *** 4.44 ***I did not wait for a buddy read, because after finishing the first book I HAD TO KNOW!!! I engulfed this one in a day and have to say, despite loving the heck out of it, my thirst to KNOW is not quenched... I need the third book right now, but alas, I will have to wait like a good and patient reader and preorder it, so I can have it as soon as it comes out, if not possible to get it earlier. "..."Life cannot exist without the Earth.Yet there is a not-unsubstantiated chance that life will win its war, and destroy the Earth. We’ve come close a few times.That can’t happen. We cannot be permitted to win."..." Lets get the most obvious things out of the way. The strength of this book, and the first one for that matter, is the world and character building. Not only solid, not only meticulous, not only imaginative, but also so well chiseled within the reality of the World, that as weird and foreign as it should seem to us, we feel like a part of the creatures who are trying to survive within this dying Earth. You feel the hopes, and dreams, and despair, even at times understand the prejudices, because you wonder if you wouldn't be one of those who in the face of extermination, might put their life and their fears above those of others, just as desperate as you. I could feel the dying of green nature around, the sand and ash under my feet and in the air, the heat, scolding and burning away my fat... I was aware of my own age and disabilities, sharpening my understanding that unless my brain does not compensate for them, I would be one of the first left outside of the comms. I could feel the stifling humidity and smell the purification and copper of bodily fluids... And I saw the petrified chunks of humans, or not, here and there among the boiling bugs. This is how real it all felt. This is how brilliant the writing is! "...“But if you stay, no part of this comm gets to decide that any part of this comm is expendable. No voting on who gets to be people.”...“Being useful to others is not the same thing as being equal.”..." We have our exquisitely developed main characters of Essun and her daughter Nassun, and Alabaster, all of them powerful Orogenes, as well as the Guardian Schaffa, who is turning out to be a catalyst for both mother and child... There are also the ever hanging around Stone-Eaters, and my favorite Hoa, the one I wish we get more page time with, because he is written in a manner to steal and break your heart! We get a story about the apocalyptic event which lead to the Seasons in first place, and I have to gloat a bit and say that I had that one figured out in the last book:):):) We also started noticing the distinctions between erogeny and magic, and their role in this book was awesomely powerful! The battle of survival kicks up a notch, since the resources are getting depleted as time goes and hope for future sustainable renewal is none existent. "...“Love is no inoculation against murder.” ..." Amid the epic battle of a world and its inhabitants to survive, we also witness a very heart-wrenching conflict of a family torn by secrets and murder. Jija has taken his daughter, his one child left, his daddy's girl Nassun, up North in order to find a "cure" for her Orogeny. Nassun loves her dad and has grown to hate her mother, since she is the one who had told her to hide her talent and gave her lessons in control with the same brutality she herself was raised with. In Nassun's eyes this was abuse, this was something she believed her mother did just to hurt her, with no particular justification or sense of love. She is happy to be away from the strict and demanding matriarch. Meanwhile, Essun is frantically searching for her beloved daughter, the one that is so much like her, the one she has been very hard on, because the fear of loosing her had made her weigh the positives of cruelty against the negatives being gentle and her girl hurting someone by mistake, not understanding her own power, and getting lynched because of it. Which one of those lose-lose situations makes her a monster deserving her child's hatred? I personally thing that although harsh and cruel, Essun did the right thing, refusing to make a victim out of her daughter. Hopefully, in the process of making her strong, she did not create a monster... "...“Given a choice between death and the barest possibility of acceptance, they were desperate, and we used that. We made them desperate.” ..." I will not delve into the plot itself, because that is the joy of reading the book - discovering it for yourself!!! I do have to say that it was a non-stop, exciting and riveting, at times devastating, at times adrenaline-inducing, but always poignant and ethically challenging. I loved it! It is a set-up book for what I hope will be a bang of a finish, and I only have to wait one more month for it!!! My impatience will have to read something else in order not to drive me insane in the meantime:):):) "...“All that stuff about Father Earth, it's just stories to explain what's wrong with the world. Like those weird cults that crop up from time to time. I heard of one that asks an old man in the sky to keep them alive every time they go to sleep. People need to believe there's more to the world than there is.” ..." Now I wish you all Happy reading and many more wonderful books to come!!!
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  • Tess Burton
    January 1, 1970
    To summarize, it seems even the best authors can fall victim to Middle Book Syndrome.I still adore N.K. Jemisin, I still think she's a goddess. The Obelisk Gate just didn't do it for me. The first book in this series, The Fifth Season, was just so exciting. It was filled with incredible world-building and a well-paced journey with a complex and likable heroine. But whereas The Fifth Season was probably 70% backstory, I should really have known this installment would focus more on the present.The To summarize, it seems even the best authors can fall victim to Middle Book Syndrome.I still adore N.K. Jemisin, I still think she's a goddess. The Obelisk Gate just didn't do it for me. The first book in this series, The Fifth Season, was just so exciting. It was filled with incredible world-building and a well-paced journey with a complex and likable heroine. But whereas The Fifth Season was probably 70% backstory, I should really have known this installment would focus more on the present.The first half of the book was (comparatively) dull as mud. Nothing of much interest happens to Essun, she appeared stagnant and incapable. We got more about Nassun, Essun's daughter, and her life-changing journey after the beginning of the latest apocalypse. Ultimately, she was interesting, but not for a long while.By the time things really started happening, I had already given into my boredom. I really wasn't invested, and all I was really hoping for was more of Schaffa's backstory. He had quickly become the most intriguing character, as my love for Essun kind of waned.I'm still going to read the final installment of this trilogy, but I hope the pacing improves in the next one.
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    This book transitions very nicely from where The Fifth Season left off. We backtrack in time a bit to follow the journey Essun's daughter Nassun took with her father, Jija, and then the rest of the book runs in a parallel timeline following Essun in Castrima and Nassun further South in Jekity.Jemisin has a wonderful storyteller's voice, which she uses to great effect here. The pain inflicted on Essun by her time with the Fulcrum continues to reverberate down through to Nassun, as Nassun begins a This book transitions very nicely from where The Fifth Season left off. We backtrack in time a bit to follow the journey Essun's daughter Nassun took with her father, Jija, and then the rest of the book runs in a parallel timeline following Essun in Castrima and Nassun further South in Jekity.Jemisin has a wonderful storyteller's voice, which she uses to great effect here. The pain inflicted on Essun by her time with the Fulcrum continues to reverberate down through to Nassun, as Nassun begins at last to understand a little bit about how her mother became the person she is. But keeping true to the complexity of human relationships, Jemisin doesn't make Nassun seem more than the child she is. The way Nassun deals with the people around her seems very much in keeping with her age.My only real criticism would be that this felt very much like a middle book. Up until the last part of the book I kept feeling like I wanted more from Essun's part of the story. Nassun's journey was for me the more interesting part of the book, probably because it was her character that experienced the greatest level of change and personal growth.Overall, though, The Obelisk Gate did end in a place that set things up nicely for what will hopefully be an exciting conclusion in the third book.
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  • Algernon (Darth Anyan)
    January 1, 1970
    [9/10]“The Fifth Season” set the bar really high for the follow up, but N K Jemisin delivers the goods in the sequel with as much skill and inventivity as I have come to expect from her original, engaging stories. With a whole planet as a terrible playground and a timescale extended to tens of thousands or more years, Jemisin redefines what EPIC means in terms of fantasy. Robert Jordan and Steven Erikson are arguably in a good position to challenge my enthusiastic placing of this series on the [9/10]“The Fifth Season” set the bar really high for the follow up, but N K Jemisin delivers the goods in the sequel with as much skill and inventivity as I have come to expect from her original, engaging stories. With a whole planet as a terrible playground and a timescale extended to tens of thousands or more years, Jemisin redefines what EPIC means in terms of fantasy. Robert Jordan and Steven Erikson are arguably in a good position to challenge my enthusiastic placing of this series on the epic scale, but both of them fall short in terms of characters (imho, of course). After all, a person is herself, and others. Relationships chisel the final shape of one’s being. I am me, and you. The spectacular cataclysm that ushered in a Season of Death and Destruction, the (still) hidden forces that govern plate tectonics and produce recurrent armaggedons, the relationship between the several nodes of power that can be controlled by humans ( a unified theory of magic that links geology with subatomic particles and telepathy?) become under the pen of Jemisin more like background noise to the family drama centered around the orogene Essun, she of the different names and evolving POV from the first book. The opening line that I quoted above reminds us that she is not operating in a vacuum, that her personality and her actions are determined by her family: by her two dead children, victims of prejudice and blind hatred; by her surviving daughter that has been kidnapped and hidden somewhere under the ash clouds of volcanic eruptions; by her once lover and mentor that might be responsible for the breaking of the Stillness, by her adopted clan that offered her shelter from the planetary storm inside a giant geode.Questions of morality versus survival, expediency, deep seated resentments between ‘stills’ and ‘roggas’, power and responsibility, scientific curiosity, even sexual emancipation and interspecies contact are the true engines of the plot and the main attraction of the series for me. “Are you human?“Officially? No.”“Never mind what others think. What do you feel yourself to be?“Human.”“Then so am I.” Orogenes are universally hated because the ‘still’ population holds them responsible for destroying the natural equilibrum of the planet and for their tendency to lash out and kill indiscriminately when scared and/or untrained. So orogene children are lynched the moment they are discovered, no matter how young they are. The most powerful they are allowed to become, the more destruction they are capable of. So what is the solution? Escalation of the stakes in the eternal war between magical practitioners and regular persons? Extermination, even if that means probably the destruction of the whole world? How can the different sides be made to see and accept the ‘other’ as Human, just like themselves?Essun may be the most powerful orogene left on the planet, but should she be allowed to open the Obelisk Gate and control an even larger portion of the physical forces that move mountains and oceans and turn whole cities into rubble in the blink of an eye? The author is wisely leaving the question open ended, making her heroine fallible, impulsive and more than a little prejudiced against the other players. It's up to us to answer the question. Life cannot exist without the Earth.Yet there is a not-insubstantiated chance that life will win its war, and destroy the Earth. We’ve come close a few times.That can’t happen. We cannot be permitted to win. These passages in the novel remind me of the Oppenheimer quote from Bhagavad Gita : "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." The ethical question is extended and given additional depth from the perspective of the three other POV characters in the book : Essun’s daughter Nassun, the Guardian Schaffa and the initially unnamed second person narrator (view spoiler)[ the stone eater Hoa (hide spoiler)]. Each of them is powerful in his or her own way and must learn to accept responsibility for mistakes made in the use of that power.>><<>><<>><<By insisting on the human element in the epic I may have overlooked to mention that this second installment was a thrilling ride, a furious page turner that managed to raise the tension and the emotional turmoil to unbelievable heights. The worldbuilding is also upgraded from the opening volume with important revelations about the mysterious giant crystal obelisks that float in the sky defiant of the laws of physics, about the source of orogeny and its link with the ‘magical’ essence of the planet, manifested in all living and mineral elements (view spoiler)[ this is my sole minor complaint about the book, that the ‘silver magic threads’ feel too much like the Star Wars ‘midichlorians’, or like ‘unobtainium’, or like New Age Gaea power or other similar convenient plot devices (hide spoiler)], about the history of the seasons and about the other interested parties that might not want the power of the orogenes to develop unchecked (Guardians, stone eaters)These partial answers raise as many new questions as the solutions they offer, enough to make the third installment a must-have for next year. The Hugo Award won for the first volume is entirely justified, and I recommend this series to all readers, within or outside the genre.
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  • Robin (Bridge Four)
    January 1, 1970
    Congratulations to N.K. Jemisin for winning the Hugo Award for this book as well as last year for The Fifth SeasonThis series is a little different from many that I’ve read recently. I said in my prior review that it seemed like a Dystopian Fantasy and I believe it is classified as Sci-Fi. I’m still not sure what it is officially but with some of the revelations in this it appears that this might be a version of Earth in the distant, distant future.I really like the writing in this. The way the Congratulations to N.K. Jemisin for winning the Hugo Award for this book as well as last year for The Fifth SeasonThis series is a little different from many that I’ve read recently. I said in my prior review that it seemed like a Dystopian Fantasy and I believe it is classified as Sci-Fi. I’m still not sure what it is officially but with some of the revelations in this it appears that this might be a version of Earth in the distant, distant future.I really like the writing in this. The way the PoVs is presented really works for me. There are a few first person PoVs and then there is this other narrative by someone that sounds completely different in the way it is presented. I thought that maybe it is the Stoneeater companion Essun is keeping but then there are moments in this that I think perhaps some of them are Father Earth talking. We cannot be permitted to win. So this is a confession, my Essun. I’ve betrayed you already and I will do it again. You haven’t even chosen a side yet, and already I fend off those who would recruit you to their cause. Already I plot your death. It’s necessary. But I can at least try my damnedest to give your life a meaning that will last till the world ends. The Obelisk Gate covers both Nassun and Essun’s stories. We start off with what happened to Nassun the day that her father killed her baby brother and took her away from her mother. Her story is a little heartbreaking as you learn what Essun did to teach her how to use her magic and the struggles Essun now has to face to stay alive while traveling with her father. It gave the reader great insight into why she would want a parental figure so much that she latched onto the first one that came around at that point in her life.Essun’s story is just as engaging as Nassun’s and possibly more so since I connected to her in the first book. In the commune she is trying to learn from Alabaster before his imminent demise. You learn that there was a method to his madness and maybe he didn’t just want to destroy the world. Perhaps he was trying to move towards saving it and destroying it is just the first step. “Using that to channel the power of the Rift should be enough.”“To do what?”For the first time, you hear a note of emotion in her voice: annoyance. “To impose equilibrium on the Earth-Moon system.”What. “Alabaster said the Moon was flung away.”“Into a degrading long-ellipsis orbit.” When you stare blankly, she speaks your language again. “It’s coming back.”Oh, Earth. Oh, rust. Oh, no. “You want me to catch the fucking Moon?” There are other dangers of course to be faced. There are Stone Eaters and they have their own agendas including the one that has been following Essun around. There is the growing tension in the Comm between the Orogenes and Stills and even more outside of the Comm as food becomes scarce and other Comms have decided to try and invade for food and supplies. Then there is also the interesting wildlife changes that include some animals hibernating while others have different deadly instinctual habits during a season.One of the most interesting things for me in this book was getting a little more insight into the Guardians and what makes them what they are. Shaffa’s part in this book with some explanations of ‘gifts’ Guardians are given was especially inventive and creepy. But his relationship with Nassun is equal parts beautiful and terrible. I’m so worried for what is going to happen in that dynamic in The Stone Sky. He loses so much else, though. Understand: The Schaffa that we have known thus far, the Schaffa whom Damaya learned to fear and Syenite learned to defy, is now dead. What remains is a man with a habit of smiling, a warped paternal instinct, and a rage that is not wholly his own driving everything he does from this point on. This was a really good follow up the The Fifth Season and has one of the more interesting concepts I’ve read recently. I’m really excited to the conclusion to this trilogy in The Stone Sky.
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  • Bibi
    January 1, 1970
    By now you've gotten over that devilishly clever writing devise that Ms Jemisin wielded in book one and, like me, you're eager to continue the journey with Essun, unwavering in your desire to uncover the secrets of this strange but fascinating world. And you're not disappointed.This is writing at par with the Sandersons, Bardugos et al. NK is a master storyteller!
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  • TS Chan
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars.The Obelisk Gate may feel like a middle book, but it is an excellent one. Before I start, I just have to say that this book's cover is my favourite of the trilogy. I absolutely love its colours and beautiful stone design so evocative of past civilisations' architecture.The non-linear plot of two past timelines and a present one converged towards the end of the first book, and The Obelisk Gate takes the story forward almost immediately with the second person present POV of Essun. There 4.5 stars.The Obelisk Gate may feel like a middle book, but it is an excellent one. Before I start, I just have to say that this book's cover is my favourite of the trilogy. I absolutely love its colours and beautiful stone design so evocative of past civilisations' architecture.The non-linear plot of two past timelines and a present one converged towards the end of the first book, and The Obelisk Gate takes the story forward almost immediately with the second person present POV of Essun. There are two new third-person POVs. One is a character from the first book, Schaffa, and another which was only mentioned but not seen, Nassun. Both of whom played a significant role in Essun’s story and added new empathetic layers into the narrative. Schaffa’s perspective imparted some required insights into the Guardians, while Nassun’s afforded the reader with the story of her relationship with her mother and father, and her path towards an inevitable destiny following that fateful day in Tirimo. There is something about the 2nd person POV in this trilogy that just worked for me. It gets inside my head. I feel as Essun does. I see what she sees. It is almost scarily immersive how it gets into my psyche. Her character is insanely captivating. This a woman who, being an orogene, have been through and seen so many horrors that she doesn’t trust the ordinary people to not bring harm to her and the ones she loves. The prejudice levelled against the orogenes in the Stillness is literally inhuman; orogenes are treated as less than humans and must be controlled and made as tools and even a father can kill his own children who are discovered to be cursed with the power.The narrative in The Broken Earth has been anything but ordinary, and this even extends to the unusually beautiful love story which is far from your typical romance. Moreover, as this was told in Essun’s 2nd person POV, I seemed to feel the emotions more acutely than I ever had before. Believe me, I very seldom mention love stories in my reviews. You’ve hardened so much without this. Without him. You seem strong, healthy, but inside you feel like he looks; nothing but brittle stone and scars, prone to cracking if you bend too much. You try to smile, and fail. He doesn’t try. You just look at each other. It’s nothing and everything at once. Oh rusts, that was so beautifully poignant that it hurts.Two things which made this volume feel like a middle book. Firstly, it has a lot more exposition around the obelisks, orogeny and magic, and the stone-eaters. All which I find fascinating, and not just a wee bit mind-bending. And then, we have the plotlines of all the POV characters which just feel like an anticipatory build-up to the finale of the trilogy. Notwithstanding, it was a brilliantly written sequel, and I will be plunging straight into The Stone Sky for the conclusion, one which I expect to be even more emotionally powerful.This review can also be found at Booknest
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  • Scott Hitchcock
    January 1, 1970
    I've heard people say this suffered from middle book syndrome. Not at all for me. If anything I was able to enjoy it more so because the second person present tense was familiar this time around and not distracting. This book picks right back up where the last left off and the scope of what we're dealing with is truly revealed in not generations or centuries but in tens of thousands of years. Some of the descriptions of changing eras, landscapes, seas, land masses and the rest reminded me of Eri I've heard people say this suffered from middle book syndrome. Not at all for me. If anything I was able to enjoy it more so because the second person present tense was familiar this time around and not distracting. This book picks right back up where the last left off and the scope of what we're dealing with is truly revealed in not generations or centuries but in tens of thousands of years. Some of the descriptions of changing eras, landscapes, seas, land masses and the rest reminded me of Erikson in their epic and grand depictions. Another thing that ticks a box for me in making a series epic is NKJ makes you feel the magic. It's one things to tell you a person performed it and completely another for you to see and feel what that person is experiencing. Time and again she does this bringing each action into a crescendo. The writing reminds me of Abraham's Long Price Quartet which is a top 5 series of mine. If she finishes this off in style this will be joining it there. What they both have the knack of doing is starting out with a vivid description and quickly expanding that into a scene. The scene quickly becomes tension, often from where you didn't suspect it, and then that tension becomes another description. Just when you think things are settling down the cycle repeats. Some they are able to constantly keep with foot on the gas in such simple and subtle ways you don't realize until after the fact you've been on the edge of your seat for an hour plus. Finally the characters. They are all so compelling because they are complexed. They are flaw. They love and hate. They are so perfect in their imperfections. I have to wait a month to do the rest with the group I've started with trilogy with and it will be hard not to cheat!
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    While I didn't quite enjoy this sequel as much as I enjoyed The Fifth Season it is still an impressively imagined, intriquately plotted, and highly original fantasy book. I am just so in love with the world N. K. Jemisin has created here! I cannot believe I will have to wait until August to see how it will conclude; I mean I know it'll end in tears (my tears) because there is no way a story this cruel can have the perfect happy ending I want for these great characters.The characters are one of J While I didn't quite enjoy this sequel as much as I enjoyed The Fifth Season it is still an impressively imagined, intriquately plotted, and highly original fantasy book. I am just so in love with the world N. K. Jemisin has created here! I cannot believe I will have to wait until August to see how it will conclude; I mean I know it'll end in tears (my tears) because there is no way a story this cruel can have the perfect happy ending I want for these great characters.The characters are one of Jemisin's greatest strengths. I adore the way she created them and the way the sequel with its added viewpoints increased my understanding of them; especially Essun who is quite possible my favourite character to have appeared in a fantasy novel. While I adore Essun there is no denying that she isn't perfect by a longshot. The way she has treated her daughter (tragically mirroring her own mistreatment by Schaffa) will have undeniably dangerous implications for how the rest of this story will unfold - and I am already dreading it.What didn't quite work for me is the newly expanded magic system -while I am not one of those readers of fantasy literature who needs everything in the world to be perfectly described and for the magic system to be unique but still completely thought out Jemisin's explanations still didn't quite work for me. Which is a shame because in points she goes really in-depth and lost me there for a while. This wasn't enough of a problem for me to really diminish my enjoyment but is the reason why I cannot give this book the five stars I gave the first one. I absolutely love the way this at the core highly political story is framed; I am always a sucker for unconventional storytelling and here this adds a wonderful depth to an already brilliantly imagined world. I cannot wait to read the final installment come August (and I might have already had a sneak peak into The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms because I kinda do not want to stop reading Jemisin's books any time soon).
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/09/01/...The Obelisk Gate is the highly anticipated follow-up to The Fifth Season, further building upon the world and characters created by N.K. Jemisin in the world of The Broken Earth. While it has the distinct feel of a middle book in a trilogy, letting the first book maintain its edge in my eyes, it’s still nonetheless a fantastic and very rich sequel.The story picks up from where we left off, transitioning us into the start o 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/09/01/...The Obelisk Gate is the highly anticipated follow-up to The Fifth Season, further building upon the world and characters created by N.K. Jemisin in the world of The Broken Earth. While it has the distinct feel of a middle book in a trilogy, letting the first book maintain its edge in my eyes, it’s still nonetheless a fantastic and very rich sequel.The story picks up from where we left off, transitioning us into the start of a new Season—or a period of instability marked by a major apocalyptic event. The Orogene known as Alabaster has used his powers of earth manipulation to tear the world apart, and that was the last time Essun thought she would see her old mentor. But now, while traveling across the land to find her daughter Nassun, Essun has found Alabaster again, dying in an underground comm called Castrima. Apparently, her former teacher still has more knowledge to pass on to her, information that could potentially affect the rise and ebb of the devastating Seasons, perhaps halting the cycles all together.Meanwhile, Nassun finds herself in a bit of a bind, kidnapped by her father Jija after he discovered his children were Orogenes. He had already killed Nassun’s little brother, but could not bring himself to do the same to his little girl. Instead, he decides to take her away to a place where he heard Orogeny could be “fixed”, and Nassun has no choice but to follow, torn between love and fear of her father.The Obelisk Gate both reads and feels a little different from the first book, emphasizing plot while also expanding upon the world-building. We get to learn a lot more about The Stillness as well as the continent’s various peoples and factions. The mysterious presence of the obelisks also plays a key role in this book, their significance serving as a centerpiece for much of the world’s history and lore. This aspect is strengthened and polished up considerably in this sequel, giving me the sense that Jemisin is working to build up to some important developments related to the magic and mystery surrounding Orogeny.However, it’s the characters that really shine, much as they did in the previous book. This time, the focus is mainly split between the two characters Essun and her daughter Nassun, following the individual journeys of both strong yet conflicted women. Once again, Essun is the heart that drives this novel forward, but to my surprise, it was Nassun who really endeared herself to me. The story focusing on the relationship between her and Jija struck a very deep, raw chord. There are just too many terrible emotions there, more than any young girl should bear. I could feel the love she has for her father, but also the cancerous seed of knowledge in the back of her mind that his love for her is conditional and that he can never see past his hate for something that is so integral to her identity. Then there are Nassun’s memories of her mother and the harsh methods Essun used to prepare her daughter for a life lived in secret. All these layers of complexity are woven together to form a truly heart-wrenching picture of Nassun’s relationship with her parents, each thread a thoughtful commentary on the intricate connections between them. Jemisin’s portrayal of all the complex feelings involved makes it virtually impossible not to feel completely drawn into these characters’ lives.As I said previously though, I still have to give The Fifth Season a slight edge over The Obelisk Gate, simply because the sequel didn’t quite consume me the way the first book did. For one, this book was slower to take off, and without revealing any spoilers for the series, I thought the story also lacked some of the structural and stylistic subtleties that made its predecessor so ingenious. Jemisin manages to use a couple creative devices here too, but for the most part they didn’t work as nearly as well, such as the second-person narrative for Essun’s chapters—mainly because it was so darn distracting. While I’m more frustrated at myself than at the novel for letting something like this bother me, there’s still no denying that it took me quite a while to get used to this narrative mode. When it’s used sparingly in brief sections of a novel, I find sometimes that I barely even notice, but here it was just so prevalent that there was really no way for me to push it entirely out of my awareness.Still, I really can’t stress enough what a good sequel this is. I’m a relatively new fan of the author, since The Fifth Season was my first book by her, but I am already in love with her gorgeous writing and the way she crafts characters that feel so well-rounded and real. The Obelisk Gate has such an incredible amount to offer, just an all-around amazing read.
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  • Nataliya
    January 1, 1970
    Perfect. Simply perfect.---Review to follow.
  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    As you can probably tell from the 5 star review: I LOVED this book! I enjoyed Fifth Season, but this book really sealed the deal for me.The characters, the narration, the story, the magic....everything is so unique and new and I cannot get enough! Definitely a breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre. If you're looking for a fantasy story that is new and refreshing, features a diverse cast of characters then this is most certainly the book for you.I cannot wait for The Stone Sky! Is it August ye As you can probably tell from the 5 star review: I LOVED this book! I enjoyed Fifth Season, but this book really sealed the deal for me.The characters, the narration, the story, the magic....everything is so unique and new and I cannot get enough! Definitely a breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre. If you're looking for a fantasy story that is new and refreshing, features a diverse cast of characters then this is most certainly the book for you.I cannot wait for The Stone Sky! Is it August yet?
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  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    Basically none of the characters are particularly nice or good and the action doesn't ever really ramp up in this book at all, and yet I am obsessed with this trilogy. There's just something about this series that I personally really enjoy and connect with, I can't really explain it but I'll try: The world building is amazing and it builds even more in this story - it might even be the central focus of the plot in a way, as more things are revealed in this book. What I found even more enjoyable Basically none of the characters are particularly nice or good and the action doesn't ever really ramp up in this book at all, and yet I am obsessed with this trilogy. There's just something about this series that I personally really enjoy and connect with, I can't really explain it but I'll try: The world building is amazing and it builds even more in this story - it might even be the central focus of the plot in a way, as more things are revealed in this book. What I found even more enjoyable though, is that the relationships between the various characters - ex-lovers, father/daugher, orogenes/guardians, etc., are all so real and wrought with complicated emotions. It takes a look at loving someone you should hate, and hating someone you should love, which I find very interesting.I fully expect that some people might be bored by this book, but I personally wasn't at any point. Granted - I listened to this audiobook during a long solo road trip, so that might have something to do with my personal attention span in regards to this book LOL! So your mileage may vary with this one (pun intended) ;)
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  • Robyn
    January 1, 1970
    The first of this series was so good that it's hard to rate this book fairly. I would have loved it no matter, as an extension of the wonderful world and characters of the first, but it's hard task to be as amazing as the first book. It's not as earth-shattering (so punny), but it lived up to my expectations, continuing to raise questions and mysteries throughout (and answering a few, too). I continue to be amazed at the depth of the world Jemisin has created and the sheer wonderfulness of her g The first of this series was so good that it's hard to rate this book fairly. I would have loved it no matter, as an extension of the wonderful world and characters of the first, but it's hard task to be as amazing as the first book. It's not as earth-shattering (so punny), but it lived up to my expectations, continuing to raise questions and mysteries throughout (and answering a few, too). I continue to be amazed at the depth of the world Jemisin has created and the sheer wonderfulness of her geo-fiction. I know this will be a favourite series of mine for a very long time indeed.
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  • Stefan Bach
    January 1, 1970
    "If being less than himself means being less than the monster that he was, he cannot regret it." I have read your reviews. I understand those who said this book suffers from a 'second book' syndrome; and I understand you who said you don't understand how can anyone say this book suffers from a 'second book' syndrome. I tend to agree with: all of you. How? Well, it's not me who said either of those two things. (shut up, it's my logic :))Seriously though, I agree. There is a problem with info-dum "If being less than himself means being less than the monster that he was, he cannot regret it." I have read your reviews. I understand those who said this book suffers from a 'second book' syndrome; and I understand you who said you don't understand how can anyone say this book suffers from a 'second book' syndrome. I tend to agree with: all of you. How? Well, it's not me who said either of those two things. (shut up, it's my logic :))Seriously though, I agree. There is a problem with info-dumping. And there is a problem with second person, present tense narrative... for characters that... aren't... you? Hmm, that shouldn't work.Except - it does. Somehow, I don't know how, NKJ have done it. I mean, from the very prologue of the first book, and first chapter where I saw that indeed this character is written in second person, present tense, it was clear to me that this story is being simply told to us by a said character. Hence, when I saw that second person, present tense, is used to describe the story of another character, it became simply a matter of - adapting.And info-dumping is subjective. It is. More and more I see authors who implement info-dumping in their books as a main plot's narrative and even characterization. (James Islington, Licanius Trilogy) More and more I see how second book in trilogy serves as a 'bridge' towards conclusion, bridge you need to cross and wind on it you have to endure. I know such thing could be a nuisance for some, and you don't 'have to' anything, but I can list ten highly acclaimed, award winning, authors who have done it so far. And, let's face it. It has become a structural narrative.So, the reason why I said I understand all of them, is because those problems are there. But only if you decide to see them as problems. I don't. Here is why. Worldbuilding, Magic System, History & Lore; Prose; Characterization. Three supportive pillars with which I "judge" fantasy books. Or, it's more accurate to say, three pillars necessary for me to enjoy a book.Of course, it's far more complicated than that, but you get an idea how I look at them, and I don't want to bother you much with this.Obviously, the more complex any of those three, more stronger the pillar.Now, there can be one pillar missing - I would still have a great book to read.Lose two... well, then I would have Words of Radiance in my hands. (Prose and characterization are missing)Point is, everything crumbles. (And no, I don't care how fascinating flora and fauna in The Stormlight Archive is, I'm missing two other main things that makes book enjoyable for me.)Back to The Broken Earth series. How many pillars do I have here?Easy. All three of them. This series is built on probably one of the most solid pillars I had pleasure to read. (that's a weird sentence) Worldbuilding. Again, one of the most interesting and innovative aspects of this book. Even though, I highly dislike post-apocalyptic settings. But, the reason why this pillar stands and what makes it so solid, is complexity of that worldbuilding. How deeply history of this world goes; how complex society is; how strange and how nothing even remotely similar I had seen in 85 other fantasy books I have read only this year alone comes to magic of this world. So when you have this info-dumping to build upon and expand this amazingly rich world you enjoy staying in, you see that as anything but a problem. And while on subject of worlbuilding, let's talk about what this sequel is actually about.The story immediately picks up where it ended in first book, with a question asked and many others still unanswered. The first book started with an ending of the world. And that book ended with the beginning of the Season. Fifth Season, to be exact, hence the tittle. (there were far more Seasons, these five were only registered and considered as 'proper Seasons'... you'll understand in 'history spoilers' at the end of review) The reason why this Seasons happen - if we believe the myths - is because Father Earth is angry at people who kidnapped his only child. He enacts his vengeance through tremors and shakes which results in big volcanic eruptions and other cataclysmic catastrophes, which are sometimes so big they start a Season: mass extermination of (almost) all living beings on Earth.But if deem those myths as nothing but stories of the common folk, luckily, Sanzed Empire's Equatorial Affiliation has kept a track record and made a catalog of all Seasons.*(And just to show you how detailed this worlbuilding is, and if you are interested in exploring, I'll share with you portion of that catalog at the end of review in those 'history spoilers'.Sometime before the Seasons, before Father Earth was angry, and before people kidnapped his only child, people built Obelisks - hence the tittle of this book - huge, massive, terrifying, beautiful floating crystalline shards that hover amid the clouds, rotating slowly and drifting across the skyline.No one remembers their purpose, except that now they represent nothing but an irrelevant monument to a time passed and civilization long forgotten.Except, of course that's not the case and of course they have a much bigger part to play. What?That's for our protagonists to find out. Prose. This is something that is not subjective. This is something that you either excel in it, or you don't. An example:I'm a moose when it comes to eloquence of writing. N.K. Jemisin is not. Difference between us when it comes to that is appallingly vast. I am able to recognize that.Sometimes with some authors - I'm not. (you can guess three times with whom) Characterization. In the first book NKJ took a risk with her character. Did something that I have only seen done once by another highly praised author. (he failed in it, btw, and yes I'm using every single opportunity to mention it) I'm avoiding plot-spoilers, so I'll say only this: to be able to equally develop all three of those main characters in her first book - in that manner - again, I'm a moose, I can only repeat it's innovative, it's amazing, but most of all, it's believable. These characters are believable. "There is such a thing as too much loss. Too much has been taken from you both—taken and taken and taken, until there’s nothing left but hope, and you’ve given that up because it hurts too much. Until you would rather die, or kill, or avoid attachments altogether, than lose one more thing." And now, in this second book, to be able to subvert even those highly and rock-solidly developed characters, to give us entirely different perspective of them, and not betray their characters, but enrich them in the process!?Masterful. Perspective. It's so important to do this right if you wish to make your characters gray. Neither heroes nor villains. Or both of those two things, depending of someone's (distorted) point of view.Two characters I would like to mention here, as an addition to the cast of interesting characters are Nassun and Schaffa. Through character of Nassun we can see how a mother we are following through an entire book - how a character for which we were building this picture of her as a caring, distraught woman whose sole task is to find her missing daughter - is entirely different person through the eyes of her child. Perceived, due to child's experience with her mother, in polar opposite to what was presented to us as our main protagonist in the first book.And it's a thin line between betraying this character we were emotionally invested in so far - and adding depth to that said character. Something NKJ has done to its perfection. "It is a manipulation. Something of her is warped out of true by this moment, and from now on all her acts of affection toward her father will be calculated, performative. Her childhood dies, for all intents and purposes. But that is better than all of her dying, she knows." Character of Schaffa, even though to his brief appearances throughout the series, is highly influential for our main protagonists. Someone who pushes and pulls them, who shifts, shakes, takes away this safe ground beneath their feet, only to support them with his back. Indecisive storm. Will he support one faction, second or third? Will he become independent? Will he save or obliterate everyone? Will he save everyone by obliterating them? "“I’ll be taking him away now.”“I knew it.”“Did you?”“I didn’t want to.” She swallows, her hand tightening; “Don’t take him. Please.”Schaffa tilts his head. “Why not?”“It would kill his father.”“Not his grandfather?” Schaffa takes a step closer. “Not his uncles and aunts and cousins? Not you?”She twitches again. “I… don’t know how I feel, right now.” She shakes her head.“Poor, poor thing,” Schaffa says softly. This compassion is automatic, too. He feels the sorrow deeply. “But will you protect him from them, if I do not take him?”“What?”Apparently not. “Protect… him?” That she asks this, Schaffa understands, is the proof that she is inadequate to the task." It's not a whim. But I also don't know what exactly guides him. I can't pinpoint his perspective.Is he driven by revenge in the name of justice? But revenge can never bring justice. Only hatred.Love then? Love breeds sacrifice. That again...And that's what makes him fascinating to me. So in conclusion, it comes to this. A final test.You stop praising it. You start seeking for problems. You start nitpicking. You start being unreasonably cruel to it. And if it still holds, if the sum of praises is bigger than sums of everything else - and by how much - you put it on your favorite list or shelves or anything else. N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Earth series is currently fourth on my Favorite Fantasy Series list. Regardless how she decides to finish it.*(SPOILERS in this way, because if I actually tag them, everything is a mess. :D) Catalog of all seasons: Twin Season: Approximately 9800 Before Imperial. Proximate cause: volcanic eruption caused a three-year occlusion.Season of Yellow Seas: Approximately 9200 Before Imperial. Proximate cause: unknown. For unknown reasons, a widespread bacterial bloom toxified nearly all sea life and caused coastal famines for several decades.Heavy Metal Season: Approximately 4200 Before Imperial. Proximate cause: volcanic eruption caused atmospheric occlusion for ten years, exacerbated by widespread mercury contamination throughout the eastern half of the Stillness.Wandering Season: Approximately 800 Before Imperial. Proximate cause: magnetic pole shift. This Season resulted in the extinction of several important trade crops of the time, and twenty years of famine resulting from pollinators confused by the movement of true north.Madness Season: 3 Before Imperial–7 Imperial. Proximate cause: volcanic eruption. The resulting ten years of darkness was not only devastating in the usual Seasonal way, but resulted in a higher than usual incidence of mental illness. The Sanzed Equatorial Affiliation (commonly called the Sanze Empire) was born in this Season as Warlord Verishe of Yumenes conquered multiple ailing comms using psychological warfare techniques. (See The Art of Madness, various authors, Sixth University Press.) Verishe named herself Emperor on the day the first sunlight returned.Fungus Season: 602 Imperial. Proximate cause: volcanic eruption. A series of eruptions during monsoon season increased humidity and obscured sunlight over approximately 20 percent of the continent for six months.The Season of Teeth: 1553–1566 Imperial. Proximate cause: oceanic shake triggering a supervolcanic explosion. The harm of this Season was exacerbated by poor preparation on the part of many comms, because some nine hundred years had passed since the last Season; popular belief at the time was that the Seasons were merely legend. Reports of cannibalism spread from the north all the way to the Equatorials. At the end of this Season, the Fulcrum was founded in Yumenes, with satellite facilities in the Arctics and Antarctics.Breathless Season: 1689–1798 Imperial. Proximate cause: mining accident. An entirely human-caused Season triggered when miners at the edge of the northeastern Nomidlats coalfields set off underground fires.Boiling Season: 1842–1845 Imperial. Proximate cause: hot spot eruption beneath a great lake. The eruption launched millions of gallons of steam and particulates into the air, which triggered acidic rain and atmospheric occlusion.Acid Season: 2322–2329 Imperial. Proximate cause: plus-ten-level shake. A sudden plate shift birthed a chain of volcanoes in the path of a major jet stream. Atmospheric occlusion by clouds lasted seven years; coastal pH levels remained untenable for many years more.Choking Season: 2714–2719 Imperial. Proximate cause: volcanic eruption. The eruption blanketed a five-hundred-mile radius with fine ash clouds that solidified in lungs and mucous membranes.(details, it's all about details when it comes to worlbuilding :D)
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  • Hiba
    January 1, 1970
    Evil earth why do you do this to me? I am so disappointed right now that I don't think I'll be able to review this properly. I wanted to love this book so much so that I've been reading it again and again to make myself like it a little bit more. I've been reading all 5 and 4 stars review for past 2 hours to convince myself that it is good but nothing is changing this simple yet powerful fact:The Obelisk Gate was just so fucking boring, at places ve ve ve very bland, filled with info-dumps and o Evil earth why do you do this to me? I am so disappointed right now that I don't think I'll be able to review this properly. I wanted to love this book so much so that I've been reading it again and again to make myself like it a little bit more. I've been reading all 5 and 4 stars review for past 2 hours to convince myself that it is good but nothing is changing this simple yet powerful fact:The Obelisk Gate was just so fucking boring, at places ve ve ve very bland, filled with info-dumps and overall incomparable to the Glory that was The Fifth Season. I was annoyed during Essun's pov, because although I still loved N.K Jemisin's writing in general, Essun's second person present tense narrative was so so rusting annoying and totally unnecessary. Essun never actually did anything other then sulking around and feeling sorry for herself. I know she had bad and unfaur life and nothing can be done to bring her justice, I UNDERSTAND but can we please move to important thing please now?? I was so excited to learn more about Alabaster, but that poor man only existed to provide info-dumps about this world. I know (and I'm hoping that I'm right) that we will see more of Alabaster in The Stone Sky but he just played as a filler character in this book to provide information to Essun.However, since it's N.K Jemisin, there were still some gems in the storyvthat made this book stood out against many other fantasy books. For one, it's the most diverse fantasy book I've read. Almost 90% of the cast are POC. There are also a trans side character, an F/F romance and disabled characters. N.K Jemisin's writing is still glorious and easy going as ever. Nassun's and Schaffa's pov were interesting, although it wasn't that good that I was hooked to these characters (maybe it's me not you), but yeah they were just interesting. Even though the world building was progressed in form of info-dumps, I liked the new revelations about stone eaters, about orogene and about these deadcivs. Although I initially hated the use of magic, but after reading important part of the book for 2nd time, I am starting to appreciate how Jemisin wove its use into the story. This whole series in general is steering away from fantasy elements and becoming full on sci-fic and that's the beauty of this whole series.Final verdict: This book suffered from middle book syndrome. It seems like a filler for the third book containg all necessary info for the last book. And I really really really hope that the third and the last book is epic, otherwise 47372646 pages of this boring fest would be for nothing.Then why did I gave it 3 stars when it was bland as mud, because I was feeling it and probably because I love N.K Jemisin.
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  • Philip
    January 1, 1970
    4.25ish stars.This is such a cool series, right!?The world-building and "magic" system are cool and different and unconventional. Jemisin's writing style is cool and unusual and edgy. Her characters are cool and genuine and unabashedly imperfect. Just so cool. Obviously this is a middle book and some of the novelty isn't as novel this time around. The aforementioned edgy writing style that Jemisin employs works for her and I like it most of the time but after a whilebut...(but)itsometimesends up 4.25ish stars.This is such a cool series, right!?The world-building and "magic" system are cool and different and unconventional. Jemisin's writing style is cool and unusual and edgy. Her characters are cool and genuine and unabashedly imperfect. Just so cool. Obviously this is a middle book and some of the novelty isn't as novel this time around. The aforementioned edgy writing style that Jemisin employs works for her and I like it most of the time but after a whilebut...(but)itsometimesends up seemingoh no oh no oh noHOKEY.One of the things I loved about the first book was the unique "magic" system that Jemisin invented. As I mentioned in my review for that book, it almost seems inaccurate to call it a magic system because it's so unlike what we traditionally perceive as magic. It's orogeny, it's just its own thing. Of course, in The Obelisk Gate, magic was literally introduced which, at first, was kind of a letdown. I liked that orogeny didn't conform to the typical tropes of magic (the ability to do whatever one wants to resolve all conflict in deus ex machina style). Then magic shows up using the title "magic" (although it was kind of an entertaining reveal when Alabaster presented the name). I at least appreciate the justification for magic's existence through its incorporation into the existing world and the adequate explanation of where it actually comes from. Ranting aside, I love this book. Lots of satisfying reveals, explanations, bad-assery galore, and even more tension and action than the first book. The expansion of characters and their relationships was fascinating. Especially delightful was the introduction of Nassun and the revelation of the true relationship between her and her mother (at least from Nassun's POV). What I love most of all is the incredible character work. No one is a hero here. These people are impulsive, manipulative, selfish, stubborn, frustrating, irritating, and immediately recognizable as being genuinely human (even especially the orogenes). I love them all even when I hate them. The ability to create that feeling, I think, is the mark of a great author.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    Review for the entire Broken Earth seriesI'd say it is a pretty noncontroversial claim to say that this was a fantastic series. Heck, the series won the Hugo award in three consecutive years, a feat never before accomplished by a writer. I think there are many reasons these books have been so well received and why I enjoyed them so much.First off is the world building (which is sort of ironic given the world and its history revolves around breaking the world). This world, which may or not be ear Review for the entire Broken Earth seriesI'd say it is a pretty noncontroversial claim to say that this was a fantastic series. Heck, the series won the Hugo award in three consecutive years, a feat never before accomplished by a writer. I think there are many reasons these books have been so well received and why I enjoyed them so much.First off is the world building (which is sort of ironic given the world and its history revolves around breaking the world). This world, which may or not be earth (not that it matters) is characterized by frequent cataclysms. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; Death is the fifth, and master of all. —Arctic proverb As a sucker for extra-textual information I loved the list of cataclysms (or Fifth Seasons as they are called in world) that has afflicted the world. Some were regional, only wiping out most of the population of one area while others affected the entire continent. These range from earthquake induced tsunamis, to volcanos, to changes in the poles, to fungal blooms wiping causing famines to name a few. The history of this world is tens of thousands of years deep, with ruins and relics of past, dead civilizations still hanging about (literally in the case of a collection of hovering obelisks of unknown origin).Given the frequency and severity of these cataclysms the human societies developed strategies for surviving. This ranged from a caste system the delineated roles for people during a Season (such as Breeders, Leaders, Strongbacks), required levels of food reserves in communities, how to treat outsiders, etc. Jemisin did an excellent job making human social relations feel logical and make sense in the world they inhabit. Sanze is the only nation that has ever survived a Fifth Season intact—not just once, but seven times. She learned this in creche. Seven ages in which the earth has broken somewhere and spewed ash or deadly gas into the sky, resulting in a lightless winter that lasted years or decades instead of months. Individual comms have often survived Seasons, if they were prepared. If they were lucky. Damaya knows the stonelore, which is taught to every child even in a little backwater like Palela. First guard the gates. Keep storecaches clean and dry. Obey the lore, make the hard choices, and maybe when the Season ends there will be people who remember how civilization should work. Sanze, the Empire that existed in the world, was able to survive multiple Seasons by enforcing these norms as well as controlling orogenes.What are orogenes you ask? Well that segues into the next neat thing about this book, the "magic". Orogenes are people who, to varying degrees, have the ability to control the earth and manipulate energy flows. You'd think such people would be able to set themselves up as rulers given their powers, but young orogenes lack control over their powers, just as likely to harm those nearby as quelling an earthquake. As such most are killed by their community when they first start exhibiting their abilities. The Empire tries to collect these individuals before the inevitable lynchings and train them to be servants of the state, helping to stabilize the land and infrastructure improvements. Several of the characters of the books are orogenes and we see how the Empire's treatment of them, while seemingly benign (protection from lynchings, food, shelter, luxuries), is in fact rather oppressive and exploitative. When a comm builds atop a fault line, do you blame its walls when they inevitably crush the people inside? No; you blame whoever was stupid enough to think they could defy the laws of nature forever. Well, some worlds are built on a fault line of pain, held up by nightmares. Don’t lament when those worlds fall. Rage that they were built doomed in the first place. But all the great world building would be for naught if the story and characters came up short. In this area Jemisin delivers a diverse and fascinating casts of characters from mysterious guardians who regulate the orogenes, to rogue orogenes, to strange, ageless stone creatures ("You’ve read accounts of attempts by the Sixth University at Arcara to capture a stone eater for study, two Seasons back. The result was the Seventh University at Dibars, which got built only after they dug enough books out of the rubble of Sixth."), to common people just trying to survive a season and all that entails. At the heart of the story is a mother trying to reunite with her daughter during a Season but Jemisin uses this quest to explore the world and society she creates. Jemisin is able to use the story to examine the many forms systemic oppression can take as well as how it can be resisted and defeated. But at its heart the series is about maternal love and sacrifice, one of the most basic human impulses that has been with humanity since time immemorial. This was a wonderfully complex and engaging series whose accolades are well earned and should be considered a foundational text of the SFF genre.~~~Oh, and naturally the writing is excellent. Here are some passages I found particularly well crafted:Humans are really good at "Othering" each other: It became easy for scholars to build reputations and careers around the notion that Niess sessapinae were fundamentally different, somehow—more sensitive, more active, less controlled, less civilized—and that this was the source of their magical peculiarity. This was what made them not the same kind of human as everyone else. Eventually: not as human as everyone else. Finally: not human at all.Like REALLY REALLY good at "Othering" each other: “This is the task of the Guardians, little one. We prevent orogeny from disappearing—because in truth, the people of the world would not survive without it. Orogenes are essential. And yet because you are essential, you cannot be permitted to have a choice in the matter. You must be tools—and tools cannot be people. Guardians keep the tool … and to the degree possible, while still retaining the tool’s usefulness, kill the person.”There is nothing new under the sun: As big as the world is, Nassun is beginning to realize it’s also really small. The same stories, cycling around and around. The same endings, again and again. The same mistakes eternally repeated.The story of every Empire, ever: But there are none so frightened, or so strange in their fear, as conquerors. They conjure phantoms endlessly, terrified that their victims will someday do back what was done to them—even if, in truth, their victims couldn’t care less about such pettiness and have moved on. Conquerors live in dread of the day when they are shown to be, not superior, but simply lucky.
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  • Matthew Quann
    January 1, 1970
    The second book in a trilogy serves as a fulcrum on which the whole series pivots. It is responsible for deepening the mysteries of the first book, answering some questions, setting up conflict for the final instalment, and it should make the attempt at being interesting in and of itself. My personal favourite middle instalments manage to harmonize these conflicting narrative needs, shatter the established and expected course of the narrative, or tell a story that seems tangential only to doveta The second book in a trilogy serves as a fulcrum on which the whole series pivots. It is responsible for deepening the mysteries of the first book, answering some questions, setting up conflict for the final instalment, and it should make the attempt at being interesting in and of itself. My personal favourite middle instalments manage to harmonize these conflicting narrative needs, shatter the established and expected course of the narrative, or tell a story that seems tangential only to dovetail back into the narrative of the first book. I'm happy to say that The Obelisk Gate moves the narrative forward, introduces new POVs, continues to be high unique, and still has important things to talk about. Even if it doesn't reach the highs of The Fifth Season or have its twisty narrative tricks, The Obelisk Gate does a terrific job bridging the gap between the beginning and end of Jemisin's story. If anything, the book sags the most in the first half of the Castrima sections where we are given a conceptually cool setting, but at the cost of the book's momentum. All the same, this allows the two new POV characters' stories to catch up to the present and they're great!I'm going to keep this one short. The series is still really good, I'm really excited to read the last book, and Jemisin's craft continues to improve from The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series. It's really well plotted, exciting, and really different from a lot of fantasy on the shelves today. With division lines drawn by the novel's end, I can't wait to see how Jemisin brings the series to a close![4.5 Stars]
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  • Stevie Kincade
    January 1, 1970
    (Audiobook) (Contains Spoilers for the first book)I really want to like this series as much as everyone else does. I am not to blame for this review. YOU are a Contrary Cathy. YOU are a Negative Nancy. YOU should have loved this book like a good little reviewer but YOU are Debby Downer.YOU rated “The Broken Earth” 3 stars despite only enjoying 1/3 of the book (Syanite and Alabaster). YOU thought the strong ending ie THE GIANT ARSE TWIST and setup for book 2 made up for your general disinterest i (Audiobook) (Contains Spoilers for the first book)I really want to like this series as much as everyone else does. I am not to blame for this review. YOU are a Contrary Cathy. YOU are a Negative Nancy. YOU should have loved this book like a good little reviewer but YOU are Debby Downer.YOU rated “The Broken Earth” 3 stars despite only enjoying 1/3 of the book (Syanite and Alabaster). YOU thought the strong ending ie THE GIANT ARSE TWIST and setup for book 2 made up for your general disinterest in the Essun and Damaya stories. With all the good reviews for “The Obelisk gate” and the story fresh in your mind YOU thought YOU should jump right in to the sequel.Ok I’ll stop now. Unfortunately for me this story focuses largely on Gija the child killer and his remaining child Nassun – and Shafa, the child killer/mass-murderer-with-a-heart-of-gold. Alabaster is reduced to leaking boil bugs and whining about his incontinence in between (exposition) dumps. Essun is a bit more in the background and it felt like the first 6 hours of this story was mostly a series of people whining and complaining about the various ills of this miserable world.Between all the mass murder, whinging and my own growing frustration with Jemesin’s narrative choices – 14 hours of the Obelisk Gate put me in a similar headspace to listening to 14 hours of death metal. Now I can handle 14 hours of Mastodon or Opeth. I can’t handle 14 hours of Cradle of Filth. There was no “melody” or anything remotely interesting to redeem the brutality. I felt so pissed off and agitated listening to this I actively avoided finishing it on the weekend. Weekends are for fun.Jemisin seems to confuse being obtuse with being clever. She starts every chapter with a non-sequiter like quote or verse that makes no sense to the reader at the time. Here is an example I will paraphrase. “Look for the (obscured) in the (obscured) of the sky” – Book of hidden truths verse 5. Then the Chapter starts with an “I” or a “He” or a “She”. We obviously know who “YOU” is. Except now sometimes “you” can be used in the general sense not the Essun-Damaya-Syanite sense. So each Chapter starts with an Abbott and Costello “who the F is I” routine. Why did she just say “you” when this isn’t Essun err me? It took me 3-5 minutes to pick up enough clues to work out “ok this time “I” is rockbiter X” or “this time “HE”is child Killer B” then I have to go and rewind to the start of the chapter, listen to the inane quote and start the whole thing again. Not once did I think “oh what a clever device this is Jemeisin you wascally writer you”. It just got more and more annoying as it went on.While listening to this I have been reading “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell. David Mitchell’s idea of a clever narrative gimmick is to turn a Question and Answer interview session into a gripping as f*ck story. Jemesin’s idea is to deliberately disorient the reader at the start of every chapter. One I would go back and re read because the writing was so good, the other I would go back and re read because the writing was so bad.Searching for anything positive to say about this book, there was a brief moment where it seemed like Tonky was going to become an interesting character. A mechanical tinkerer who used technology to assist with the unbreaking of the world seemed interesting. We got off that potential rabbit trail as quickly as we got on it.Narrator Robin Miles is good. I can’t blame her for my misery. She only voiced the boy “Ates” (eights?) with a Texan accent and thankfully didn’t distract from the story like she did last time having Irish Guardians talk to Deep South Orogones. TLDR – I am out on this series. The book was a miserable slog and it seems we are now out of clever twists. I am only giving it 1.5 because it was a bit better then “Uprooted”.(view spoiler)[ So I can recap the whole 14 hours here. We find out the Obelisks need to be linked up to “nudge” the Moon which has drifted away and led to the seasons. “Father Earth” is pissed because his Moon went away. Nessun learns magic and ices her Dad the arsehole. Essun has a tantrum and decides to ice everyone. Alabaster has to use his remaining energy to stop Essun and dies. Essun learns to combine magic and Orogony not-magic to kick tons of arse and becomes Rand Al Thor. A rockbiter says he will teach Nessun to control the moon. THE ENDThe way Alabaster’s demise was handled was so piss poor. He only existed in this book to give us a few info dumps and Jemisin is joking about his death in the following chapter. We are told that Essun learns from her big booboo and can now control the Obelisk gate. OK then (hide spoiler)]
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  • Althea Ann
    January 1, 1970
    I loved 'The Fifth Season' - it was probably my best read of last year. So of course, I looked forward to 'The Obelisk Gate' with great anticipation. It's really, really good... but it didn't quite live up to those expectations. As often happens with second books, there's a bit of a 'sophomore slump.' The first book is more tightly plotted, featuring strategically timed revelations; this is more of a straightforward "what happened next," as the reader follows the further adventures of Essun and I loved 'The Fifth Season' - it was probably my best read of last year. So of course, I looked forward to 'The Obelisk Gate' with great anticipation. It's really, really good... but it didn't quite live up to those expectations. As often happens with second books, there's a bit of a 'sophomore slump.' The first book is more tightly plotted, featuring strategically timed revelations; this is more of a straightforward "what happened next," as the reader follows the further adventures of Essun and her estranged daughter, Nassun.Essun is where we left her at the end of 'The Fifth Season,' in the (still amazing and cool) geode habitat, where a group of survivors how to weather the impending apocalyptic 'season.' The community faces stresses and strife from within and without, as deep-seated prejudices against those with the geologic powers known as orogeny are wrestled with; and rapacious invaders strive to steal their resources. Meanwhile, Essun's mentor Alabaster, who's responsible for the apocalyptic situation facing the world is succumbing to a fatal ailment, but, in a maddeningly opaque fashion, is trying to train Essun to harness her innate powers to activate the mysterious obelisks - and do... we're not quite sure what.Meanwhile, Nassun has found sanctuary in a different community. She was brought there by her murderous father, Jija, who believes that this place will 'cure' Nassun of her orogeny. However, the Guardian Schaffa is training Nassun in the use of her power, not eliminating her power. And Nassun is stronger than anyone realizes.One of the things I really like about this story is the difficult ethics of it. Nearly all of the characters have done horrible things, and the author leaves it up to the reader to decide whether they were justified in the light of circumstances, and how we should regard these people. There are no heroes here - or are there?The world and characters are still wonderfully complex and fascinating, and there's no question but that I'll follow this story into the next book... but on its own, this is not quite as good as the first installment.[edited for accuracy]
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  • Phrynne
    January 1, 1970
    The Obelisk Gate continues smoothly from where we left The Fifth Season except that we now begin to follow what is happening to Nassun. Her story is interesting and obviously leading to her having some huge involvement in the finale, but my main interest all the time is in Essun. She is certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with. N.K. Jemisin is a realist when it comes to life and death and deals with her characters accordingly. Poor Alabaster suffers dreadfully throughout this book but stil The Obelisk Gate continues smoothly from where we left The Fifth Season except that we now begin to follow what is happening to Nassun. Her story is interesting and obviously leading to her having some huge involvement in the finale, but my main interest all the time is in Essun. She is certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with. N.K. Jemisin is a realist when it comes to life and death and deals with her characters accordingly. Poor Alabaster suffers dreadfully throughout this book but still manages to use his amazing power when it is needed. Many other characters meet quite shocking ends.This is the middle book in the trilogy and as such is building events towards some presumably stupendous conclusion. However I still found it well paced and full of action and new information. Both Nassun and Essun developed their skills and strengths ready for what is to come.Plus I just love the idea of trying to catch the moon. On the strength of that I just purchased book #3 - I cannot wait to see what happens next.
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