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This beautifully written story makes you feel deeply, lonely and courageously. The most compelling part of the story is that of loss and sadness for how the world evolved from what it once might have been.
There is a "dictionary" of terms at the back of the book which I only discovered at the end. The reader should find this first and use it as there are a very large number of words that one needs to know.
Another amazing book by N. K. Jemisin. I have never been disappointed in her writing, her depth of character and her amazing worlds! This book did NOT disappoint and kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning, unable to put it down!
Took quite a while for me to sess ;-) the bigger picture, but the characterization in action Held my interest until I understood the deeper themes of the book. But, man! When the action picks up it picks up!
This broken earth series just gets better. The prose is masterful, the pacing, perfect, in that it always takes time to get going, but once it does, bam. Great endings that are actually cliff hangers. Can't wait to revisit this world hopefully soon.
This is such an immersive world. It's lush and feeling and challenging. I think this book is even better than Book 1 in the series. Thank you N.K. Jemisin for a gem. I will re-read this one over and over again.
5.0 out of 5 starsA strong sequel to The Fifth Season
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 29, 2018
A new Fifth Season has fallen on the world, the worst one in history. It may last a thousand years and forever end what vestiges of civilisation remain in the Stillness. One orogene, battered and dying, has a plan to end the Season and indeed all of the Seasons: to recapture the Moon, which was moved out of its traditional orbit more than a thousand generations ago, unbalancing the world. Recapturing the Moon requires that Essun find and harness the powers of the Obelisk Gate. But this may be harder than she thought, as enemies are moving against her new-found home and, in the distant south, her daughter discovers that she herself has an unforeseen destiny.
The Obelisk Gate is the sequel to the excellent The Fifth Season and the middle volume of the Broken Earth trilogy, N.K. Jemisin's critically-acclaimed take on the venerable Dying Earth subgenre. The Fifth Season was a highly accomplished novel, describing a brand new world with skill and intelligence and blending together elements of fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction and a dash of the weird to create something compelling and interesting.
The Fifth Season was also helped by its structure, in which we follow the same character at three different points in her life. The story rotated through each version of the character in term, gradually giving the readers all the pieces to assemble the full narrative. It was a great literary conceit, well-conceived and executed, which allowed the reader to really get to grips with the character.
The Obelisk Gate can't use the same structure, so instead adapts it by moving between Essun's story and that of her daughter Nassun. Whilst the first book was an extended road trip, the second book alternates between Essun's static story and Nassun's long journey across thousands of miles into the far south. This changes things up nicely and means that Essun, now a guest of the community of Castrima, has to actually stay put, learn what's going on from Alabaster and help defend the community.
It does mean a slightly more uneven book than The Fifth Season. Not actually a huge amount happens in this novel, especially for Essun's storyline, and some implausibility creeps in when you realise she is spending months and months hanging around in Castrima (to allow Nassun to travel many, many thousands of miles from almost the equator into the Antarctic region) but doesn't seem to really learn a lot of new information despite Alabaster being right there. That said, there is quite a decent amount of character building and atmosphere here and Castrima, a subterranean city suspended in a giant geode, is a terrific piece of worldbuilding.
Nassun's storyline is more dynamic and disturbing, as her father tries to take her to safety but instead brings her into an even more dangerous and unstable situation, with her own burgeoning powers to contend with. There's a dark mirror here to Essun's childhood upbringing as related in the previous novel, with the feeling that Nassun is what Essun could have become if she was indulged more instead of tortured.
The result is a sequel which expands on the world and the story but, in a common failing of middle volumes of trilogies, can't quite match the relentless pace and sense of discovery from the first book. There's a lot of introspection in this novel which is beautifully written, but risks redundancy later on. However, the book ends with an explosive confrontation between Castrima and a rival community which once again shakes things up and leaves them in an interesting place for the final book in the series to pick up on.
The Obelisk Gate (****½) is a readable and strong sequel to The Broken Sky, if a slightly less original and relentless one. It is available now in the UK and USA. The story concludes in The Stone Sky.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2017
I absolutely loved the first book in this trilogy. I went straight on to Book 2, but was nervous about how it would compare - partly because it would be hard to top or match such a strong opening, partly because sequels often tend to fall flat, and above all, because the structure of book one made it feel very self-contained and I was unsure how that could be replicated. Specifically, I loved the way that all three, seemingly different narrators turned out to be the same girl/woman at different points in her life and her journey. But with that surprise out, and the past sections having caught up to the present section, I wondered how this instalment could possibly achieve the same sort of effect. I turned out still to have three narrative strands, but while one was still "you" (aka Essun), there was also Nassun (her daughter, more of a plot device than a character in book one), and Schaffa, Essun's former teacher/mentor/father figure and villain of the first book.
I didn't find the structure quite as compelling as in the previous one, but it made up for it by giving a wider spread of points of view, to help readers better understand the characters and the world.The previous book felt rather like a character study, and while those elements were still maintained, this broadened out the focus. There was a lot more about the history of the world, the mysterious obelisks and stoneeaters, and the causes, nature and limits of oregeny, and I really liked this deeper world building.
In some respects - perhaps because of the greater variety of narrators, perhaps because of the more fantastical focus - it felt like quite a different book to its predecessor, but ultimately, it maintained most of what made that special and added some great new elements, so is definitely a worthwhile sequel.
Jemisin continues to stun with this trilogy. Admittedly I found this one a bit slower to read, which is how I tend to find second books in trilogies in general, but unlike many second books out there this one doesn't feel like filler for the big finale. Everything that happens in this book is important and the character development is wonderful; Essun is, without a doubt, one of the best heroines to grace SFF in many years. As soon as I finished this book all I wanted to do was the read the next one, and that's when I know I've got a fantastic series on my hands.
I previously read the first book of the trilogy, and it was great, I was a little fearful the sequel would fall off and not be as interesting, but I was definitely wrong. I felt it was a little slow but that was brief and everything started making me think of different possibilities, trying to figure out the plot and just in general enjoying where Jemison was taking me.
After finishing the book I'm grateful I was a little late to the party and could get right into the third book of the series.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 22, 2017
Having struggled though The Fifth Season, I was hoping for better with this one, and I have to say I did like it better. The narrative was more straightforward timeline-wise, and the story itself was more interesting, and I started to engage more with some of the characters. Still too much pointless swearing, but I just about managed to ignore most of it, so that it came to resemble an annoying fly that wouldn't go away. I am liking the "world-building" more, and can relate more to the atmosphere she has created. I also like that she hasn't put much effort into describing what happened in volume 1 for people who started with volume 2. If you're gonna read a trilogy or whatever, then start at the beginning. Now hoping to find the final volume at least aas good as this one.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 18, 2020
Beautifully written, this caught me from the very early pages and held me throughout. The world building continues in an inexorably detailed fashion and Jemisin builds wonderfully on both existing and new characters. Certainly less happens here than in the first installment and the setting stays largely stable with few moves, but there is enough going on in the world outside that this isn't problematic.
5.0 out of 5 starsIf you loved the first one, then this one does not disappoint.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 5, 2017
If you liked the first one, you'll love this one.
The book continues in the crystal comm, and also begins to follow a different character. In this book we get to find out more about the obelisks, the stone eaters, and the guardians. We also learn who the major players are in this war, and begin to find out what they want.
I prefer this one to the first one, the characters were fleshed out a bit more, and the lore was intriguing and made the plot more engaging.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 27, 2017
A lengthy bridge between two halves, The Broken Earth is a well written and paced fantasy. The protagonists are all believably fleshed out and despite there clearly being two heroines there no obvious bad guy. It’s a little too obvious in its feminist undertones (in such a dystopian world would all the leaders really be female?), and it goes a little flat in the middle act but the finish is strong with an intriguing set up for the third book.
It took a couple of chapters to get into the first book but engrossed ever since. Well imagined , well written, with good character development , story unfolds in an interesting way. Only reason for 4 stars is that the Interlude font on kindle reader on iPhone is unreadable, letters are overlapped on top of each other and cannot change font , so have missed out on presumably important part of story.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2017
I have read all 3 parts of this superlative trilogy and the obelisk gate pushes the story on and sets things up for the final instalment. There are many surprises and interesting new/old characters. I found the exploration of the big themes of race, family, ecology and humanity very satisfying without being 'worthy'; the themes are integral to the narrative. I am a little sad now it's over.
I had left quite a gap in between this and the first book so it took me a while to catch up with the plot lines but once I had got into it I think I actually loved it more than the first book. Some of the conclusions I had drawn about the setting were confirmed and there were still other surprises as well. I can't wait to start the next third installment.
I really enjoyed the characterisation here. No one is truly good or thoroughly evil. Characters have competing aims, and even the most inhuman can still be empathised with. This world has as many (often unfair) prejudices as our own. However, they are often based on different things from those we see in everyday life. A convincing and complex world, where every character is interesting and believable.
An excellent follow up to fifth season. It's a second book in the series so naturally doesn't feel as fresh, but very interesting to see how the characters from fifth season get on. Leaves you desperate for the third book and hopefully that the trilogy is a trilogy!
1.0 out of 5 starsI am really trying to like this book series
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2018
I am really trying to like this book series, but unfortunately after reading first book and now 3/4 through second book I find characters boring, and the storyline too jumbled to make sense of who is who and what on earth is going on. could have all been condensed into one book and not 3.