Book: The Obelisk Gate (N.K. Jemisin)

JL JamiesonBook Review, BooksLeave a Comment

obelisk gateThe Obelisk Gate

N.K. Jemisin


August 16th, 2016

ISBN: 0316229261(ISBN-13: 978-0316229265)




I won’t completely ruin the surprises for you, but to talk about the book, I do need to talk about the plot. I’m also going to share a particularly powerful excerpt.

Essun is in Castrima, and Castrima is in trouble.

There’s not enough meat to last, and a mobile army threatens their very existence. As events unfold, we learn what the obelisks are for, and that two factions want to use them in the same way for two very different purposes; one wants to save the world, another wants to end it.

Along the way, we learn much more about the heart of the problem. History. The people of Sanze have turned an entire part of the population into slaves, non-persons reduced to the power they wield. Orogenes. Through fear that their abilities will break the world and cause another Season, they have kept them leashed and under the Fulcrum’s thumb. The people see them as part of the Evil Earth because of the nature of their power. Because of this, they are treated as less than people. Uniting the people, making them realize the orogenes are also people, is essential to healing the rift in their society.

One excerpt in particular really struck me, it’s powerful stuff. It echoes the cries of the Black Lives Matter movement over the death of so many children. Essun’s dead are weighing on her at this point, and the dam has broken. A orogene child’s life is threatened, and she can’t bear one more death. For context, if you’ve not read the first book, Jija is the husband who beat their son to death, assuming he had caused an earthquake that rippled the earth. Schaffa was her Guardian at the Fulcrum, who broke her hand when they first met, teaching her to fear him:


“Not one more child!” You can sess the ones nearest you–the other council members, the screaming drunk, Penty and her girls, Hjarka and the rest, all of them. Everyone in Castrima. They trod upon the filaments of your nerves, tapping and jittering, and they are Jija. You focus on the drunk woman and it is almost instinctual, the urge to begin squeezing the movement and life out of her and replacing that with whatever the by-product of magical reactions really is, this stuff that looks like stone. This stuff that is killing Alabaster, the father of your other dead child, NOT ONE MORE RUSTING CHILD. For how many centuries has the world killed rogga children so that everyone else’s children can sleep easy? Everyone is Jija, the whole damned world is Schaffa, Castrima is Tirimo is the Fulcrum NOT ONE MORE


I’ve cut the section off a bit before the scene and before finishing the last sentence to not spoil anything further. This book is even better than the first, I can’t even imagine what the last in the trilogy will do. The story really unfolds, and it’s all emotionally powerful, exciting, interesting stuff. If you’ve not read the first one, you really need to start it and pick up this book, the second installment in the Broken Earth trilogy. If the first book doesn’t win the Hugo, I’ll be surprised, but I’m certain The Obelisk Gate will be on the shortlist for next year’s Hugo, as well as a few others.


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JL JamiesonBook: The Obelisk Gate (N.K. Jemisin)