Book review: The Obelisk Gate

If you’re a fan of speculative fiction, you must read N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. After devouring the first book, I finished the second and third books and am still catching my breath. These Hugo-winning novels are a feat of wonder, sorrow, and delight, from the elegant, powerful language to the awe-inspiring craft. And the story is phenomenal, with resonance for our times: At what point to people decide enough is enough and do what they must to ensure equality for all?

In the first book, main character Essun’s world is destroyed by personal and global catastrophes. The second book, The Obelisk Gate, introduces Essun’s missing daughter, Nassun, and the journey she’s endured after she discovered her father standing over her dead brother. Eleven years old, she travels with her father, navigating her new understanding of their relationship: he loves her, but he hates that she is an orogene with the power to stop–or start–earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. (Although this character is a child, this is a book written for adults.)

Along parallel storylines, Nassun and Essun discover comms (communities) on opposite sides of their land that are willing to take them in, though not always comfortably, as openly orogene. In relatively stable environments for the first time since the literally Earth-shattering Rifting, Essun and Nassun independently explore and deepen their powers under the tutelage of surprising teachers. (In the Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker describes the Force in similar terms as Jemisin describes the source of orogeny.)

Yet as their powers and understanding of history grows, so does their threat to themselves and to their adopted comms. War is coming, and Essun and Nassun must decide how, and whether, to use their unique gifts to save humanity.

The powerful ending made me glad I picked up the Stone Sky, the last in the trilogy, so I wouldn’t have to wait to find out what happens next.

I’ll post a review soon!

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