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Book Review: The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemison

Title: The Obelisk Gate

Author: N. K. Jemisin

Series: The Broken Earth #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: 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. -Goodreads

The Review:

The Broken Earth series is an experience. It’s so off the beaten path of typical fantasy novels that I feel like I’m getting a special treat every time I pick one up.

Jemisin gets major kudos for originality, creating one of the most unique stories I’ve ever read. Her world building and overall concept for the story was delivered with a shadowed, almost creepy atmosphere that will stick with you long after you put it down. The real brilliance lies in the writing. In the Fifth Season, Jemisin wove her story through three different perspectives, the most compelling of which was told in second person (which utilizes the “you” pronoun – “You walk to the edge of the cliff. You don’t much like heights.”) It’s a writing style you don’t see very often because it’s difficult to pull off. The Obelisk Gate was told with two POVs, the primay of which also utilizes second person. The way Jemisin wove all of those POVs into a braided plot was phenomenal.

Obelisk Gate was a strong sequel, keeping all of the amazing attributes from The Fifth Season (for the most part). There weren’t quite as many moving parts, as the story narrowed its focus, but it still had a cool atmosphere, interesting POV’s, and loads of great world building. And answers. A lot of mysteries were introduced in The Fifth Season without really being expanded on. Many events that happened started to make a lot more sense in hindsight after the revelations revealed in Obelisk Gate. What’s more, it set up new questions that promise an epic conclusion with The Stone Sky, currently slotted for release on August 15, 2017.

While reading The Broken Earth trilogy, I constantly marveled at how brilliant I think it is – five stars across the board. When finished, however, I always seem to look back on it fondly, but with a slight pit in my stomach. Some of the scenes are so profound that I doubt I’ll ever forget them, which is a mark of a truly exceptional writer. But it’s that pit that makes me constantly question my rating. I’m not used to books throwing me into such turmoil long after I put them down. I change my mind about the rating for this series on a daily basis, bouncing back and forth between 4 and 5 stars. I’ve landed on a solid 4.5 stars, but regardless of the exact number, just know if you decide to give this series a try, you’re in for a stellar read.

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by Niki Hawkes

7 comments on “Book Review: The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

  1. Another series I need to read! Thankfully, my library just finally got a copy of this second book 😎 Your comment about “a pit in your stomach” makes me nervous, but the characters must be pretty good to make you feel so strongly about them! I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying the series!!

    • Nice! It definitely has an edge to it compared to other works, but only from a conceptual standpoint. The “pits” that make me nervous recommending things are always the icky things like torture and violence lol (which, to clarify, wasn’t an issue in these books). I think you’d like it. It has the same overshadowed atmosphere as Elantris, actually. 🙂

      • Oh good! I’m always looking thoughtful worldbuilding, and I haven’t read anything by N. K. Jemisin before :D

    • Yay! Me too. I’m hoping the third one doesn’t let us down… it has so much leading up to it. I agree this one was slightly less strong, but I really like where it is headed.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin | The Obsessive Bookseller

  3. Pingback: Top Ten Upcoming 2017 Book Releases I’m Most Excited About! | The Obsessive Bookseller

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