N(ora). K. Jemisin is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction short stories and novels, who lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. In 2018, she became the first author to win three Best Novel Hugos in a row for her Broken Earth trilogy. She has also won a Nebula Award, two Locus Awards, and a number of other honors.
This is the way the world ends... for the last time.
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.
About the book
First of all I would like to thank Oscar Vault (Italian publisher) for the ARC copy of the book.
The Obelisks Gate is the second book of the trilogy The Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin. The first book review is here. The whole series talks about a broken world, where climate change has reduced humanity to organise itself into castes and to fear the fifth season, a long season triggered by a cataclysm. In the second volume we are in the fifth season (while in the first we see how we got there) and here the sun is darkened, it rains ash and it is difficult to survive. If you are not killed directly by natural disasters, hunger will eliminate you.
We follow the point of view of a unique narrator, but who mainly tells the story of two women, Essun and her daughter Nassun, who are surrounded by other characters that we come to know along the narration. The book begins where the first one ended, but chapter 1 is at the same time as the first book as we understand what happened to Nassun during the first book. Then Essun and her daughter’s stories coincide temporarily.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
About the book
The Fifth Season is a catastrophic book because we are in a world where cataclysms and earthquakes are very habitual and dangerous. We are at the end of the earth cycle or at the beginning, it depends on your point of view, as we are in a primordial earth, with only one continent, the Stillness, in which, however, man is present. Time is marked by environmental disasters, in fact there are seasons that are very different from ours, which can last even millennia. Then a catastrophe, an earthquake or a volcano erupts and the fifth season begins.
The fifth season is the period following a catastrophe that can last a few years, but also millennia. In this period the air is unbreathable, it rains ash, most people die and it is as if the earth is renewed, killing everyone and then leaving only the few capable of surviving.
Fifth Season: a long winter – lasting at least six months as per Imperial classification – triggered by seismic activity or other large-scale environmental alterations.
Translated from the Glossary of La Quinta Stagione, Italian Version, p. 484
Civilisation is basic, they have no prospects of life because at any moment an environmental disaster might come and kill everyone. It is a civilisation based on certain laws that lead to the survival of the species and everyone thinks that the earth hates them.
Also around the continent there are obelisks that are the symbol of ancient civilisations that didn’t have this problem, but no one has the duty to study them because at any moment the end of the world can happen so why waste time studying when you have to prepare to survive during a fifth season? These obelisks have a particular energy.
All my book reviews are and will be 100% honest. I don’t get paid to write them and I don’t get “gifts” to write a good review so what I write is what I think. If I love a book, I’m going to say that, if I don’t like a book, I will write why I don’t. My critics aren’t an attack to the author, they are just how I feel about a subject or a style. See more in my Review Policy.