The Obelisk Gate is the second book in ‘The Broken Earth’ trilogy, and a winner of the Hugo award as well. It’s not meant as a standalone, so, if you haven’t read the The Fifth Season yet, check it out first.
The book picks the story up right where ‘The Fifth Season’ left it, and it’s an enjoyable read, as N.K. Jemisin is consistent with her style and quality. It didn’t turn out to be such a page-turner as ‘The Fifth Season’ was for me, and I’m not quite sure why. It was somehow a more relaxing read, even though the novel still dealt with lots of tough subjects, and the story progressed at a consistent pace.
In ‘The Obelisk Gate’ we learn more about the Obelisks, Guardians and Stone Eaters. We still don’t know everything about them (that’s probably left for the last book), but we can now understand them much better. Schaffa gets some chapters of his own, and we get to see certain things from a Guardian’s perspective. We also follow Nassun on her journey, getting a glimpse into her relationships with her parents. Here, the author dives deeper into the subject of being rejected and hated for who you are by your own family, that she touched upon in the first book. The dedication in the beginning — “To those who have no choice but to prepare their children for the battlefield” — also shines a light onto the way Essun brought her up, and how she’d hurt her daughter, trying to protect her from the cruelty of the world.
Being rejected by the society for being who you are, loss, grief, the pain of injustice resulting in hate, distrust and violence are also the themes that we’ve already seen in ‘The Fifth Season’ that the author continues to explore. Again, those are rooted in the imaginary world of Stillness, but it was impossible for me not to think about the people who deal with it in real life.
There are also more “you” parts here, and it becomes apparent (because it wasn’t for me) that it’s someone addressing Essun. At a certain point, we get to see who, but I’ll leave this for you to discover on your own.
There is still a lot to happen in the last book, and I can't wait to read it.