The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

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Rate: 5/5

Medium: Book

Overview (No Spoilers): The first book in The Broken Earth series, The Fifth Season has been one of my favorite reads of 2017. As a result, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second installment, The Obelisk Gate. I waited, impatiently I might add, for a week or two for the library book to become available. Alas, I reached a point that my patience was exhausted and I couldn’t wait any longer to pick up where I’d last left up left Essun, Alabaster, Tonkee, and Hoa, causing me to run out to the local bookstore to get the book in question. My impatience was rewarded, as I couldn’t put down The Obelisk Gate, which had a much more intimate feel compared to its predecessor. We learn more about Essun, I’m making the distinction between the latter of the Damaya/Syenite/Essun dynamic due to that specific time period, which contain the most evident gaping holes. Additionally, new POVs from Nassun, as well as a second individual who I won’t reveal in this section due to being a major spoiler, act to significantly expand the literary world that is in the beginning throws and turmoil of the ultimate Season. The veil behind other mysteries, e.g., Stone eaters, Father Earth, Guardians, and the Obelisks, begins to slightly be lifted in this novel, resulting in the remaining enigma surrounding the aforementioned topics being just as tantalizing. Overall, The Obelisk Gate was a delightful sequel to The Fifth Season and I can’t wait to what Jemisin conjures for the next installment, The Stone Sky due out in August 2017.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Schaffa survived! Mind blowing! I was so excited to get a POV from a Guardian, which served to give the readers a glimpse into this mysterious subset of individuals, although I felt as though I was left with more questions than were answered.
  • What was the voice that was bargaining with him when he was trying to survive? Was it Father Earth? Is this what leads Guardians to become compromised?
  • Schaffa kills the orogene boy’s family when he agrees to save the boy. Did he kill Damaya/Syenite/Essun’s family?
  • Initially, I loved Nassun’s chapters! We gained fascinating insight into Essun/Jija/Uche/Nassun’s life in which the preceding novel only gave brief hints. We feel sympathy for Nassun due to her mother’s harsh training techniques. For example, it was heartbreaking to hear of Essun breaking Nassun’s hand just as Schaffa broke hers during training. Interesting, we hear Schaffa regret this historic act that so shaped Damaya/Syenite/Essun ‘s life.
  • Additionally, we are granted access to the events of Uche’s death at Jija’s hands and are witness Nassun’s subsequent arrival on the scene followed by the manipulation of her father to save her life, whereupon he decides to take her to a mysterious location that touts the ability to ‘cure’ orogenes called Found Moon.  Does Alabaster reference this location too?
  • Finally arriving in this town, Found Moon, Jija and Nassun run into none other than Schaffa, along with two other ‘compromised’ Guardians who appear to be running their own Fulcrum training facility. Once entered into the training, Nassun appears to be more naturally talented than her mother, even revealing more about the intricacies of orogene power. Simultaneously, Alabaster is attempting to teach Essun about the same connections, especially in the  context of the obelisks.
  • Alabaster tells Essun about his time in a city on the other side of the world and of the war that is ongoing between Father Earth, the Stone Eaters and Mankind. So if I understand this correctly, it is: Guardians vs. Father Earth, Corrupted Guardians + Father Earth, Humans/Orogenes vs. Father Earth, some Stone Eaters vs. Humans.  I’m probably forgetting a key dynamic. This divide occurred because humans/orogenes/obelisks somehow caused the moon to leave Earth’s orbit. Will Essun be able to bring the moon back?
  • What does Steel want? He is manipulating Nassun, while simultaneously trying to kill Essun and Hoa, despite telling Nassun he wanted her to bring back to the moon too. Why is he not working together with Essun? Hoa mentioned that some Stone Eaters want humans removed from earth and Steel is part of this faction. How will he ultimately use Nassun? How will Essun find and remove her daughter from his and Schaffa’s clutches? Why is Hoa protecting Essun?
  • Ultimately, we find Nassun has turned ‘evil’ with no apparent moral compass. She kills without pity or remorse. I could hardly handle her chapters by the end. I can’t see her coming back from this precipice.
  • I loved Tonkee finding the control center of Castrima, although I felt as though more could have been made of this discovery.  Overall, I kept expecting more from this character but she was really only a side character and never developed fully into one of depth.

Vocabulary Builder:

When reading it is common that I encounter words that I’m not privy to the exact definition, however it is easy to infer the meaning of the aforementioned word based on the context of the sentence and story. As such, new to the Critiquing Chemist, you’ll find an additional section that includes vocabulary words that I encountered upon reading the book being reviewed and either had to look up the definition or it is a word in which I would like to add to my repertoire. This endeavor is easier when in the Kindle format, and potentially impossible with audiobooks, however I’m going to attempt to continue this section for all future book reviews. I’ll be using the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Capacious: Containing or capable of containing a great deal

Albeit: Even though

Alveoli: A small cavity or pit

Quiescence: The quality or state of being quiescent

Gypsum: A widely distributed mineral consisting of hydrous calcium sulfate that is used especially as a soil amendment and in making plaster of parisPedantic

Irascible: Marked by hot temper and easily provoked anger

Pent: Shut up

Nebulous: Of, relating to, or resembling a nebula; indistinct, vague

Winnow: To remove (as chaff) by a current of air (2) : to get rid of (something undesirable or unwanted)

Skive: To cut off (as leather or rubber) in thin layers or pieces

Vagaries: An erratic, unpredictable, or extravagant manifestation, action, or notion

Ephemeral: Lasting one day only

Fracas: A noisy quarrel

Morass: A situation that traps, confuses, or impedes

Atavistically: Recurrence in an organism of a trait or character typical of an ancestral form and usually due to genetic recombination

Sop: A conciliatory or propitiatory bribe, gift, or gesture

Pyrrhic: A metrical foot consisting of two short or unaccented syllables

Entreaty:  The act of making an earnest request

Nihilism: A viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless



  1. I like your insights, but I’m not sure about Essun being evil. I think she did what she had to do during a season to survive. She may have gotten a little too haughty with her near limitless power, but I wouldn’t necessarily call her evil.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lol, I can relate to your bookstore run! Some books just can’t wait.This is one of those series that I know I need to read, ASAP! Thanks for the nudge 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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