The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) (Paperback)

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The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) By N. K. Jemisin Cover Image

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) (Paperback)


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This is book number 2 in the The Broken Earth series.

Staff Reviews

Sometimes, it’s nice to sit down with a book that doesn’t demand too much attention. Unfortunately, this can often translate into a book that feels unfinished. Or that supplies its conflicts with too many easy solutions. None of this is the case for N. K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate, a novel that is at once breathtaking in scope and yet intimate in its many characterizations. Moving at a pace that feels more like a modern film than standard prose, Obelisk correspondingly has no extraneous parts. Everything, from the early introduction of what are identified as “boilbugs” to the mysterious inclusion of sporadic paragraphs that break into the first-person perspective, comes to have a lasting importance throughout Jemisin’s swift, spare plot. In many respects, it’s better to think of this second novel in the Broken Earth series as a kind of short story than a full fledged epic. One of the few shortcomings of this book is that it expects you to remember all of the events of The Fifth Season, to the point that readers might become lost in the opening chapters if they haven’t very recently finished its first installment. But for fans of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy, another Orbit Books publication, this will be a very familiar experience—once you start considering each entry as part of a larger whole, as opposed to something more self-contained, this issue becomes muted. Just as with Fifth, and as so many of the best fantasy books do, Obelisk ends at an even brisker pace than it began, answering the previous pages’ most pertinent questions with higher and higher fantasy elements while still opening up all new questions, in a process that feels much like solving a difficult but satisfying puzzle—confusing at first but obvious once all the pieces have fallen into place. However, this fantasy book exists in a world all its own. Whereas so many other entries in the fantasy genre are beholden to authors like Tolkien or Martin, Jemisin’s world is consummately unique. The further the book progresses, the more ambiguous its setting becomes. To the point that a looming question becomes whether or not this book should be considered as science fiction more than fantasy. A question that may become mute once the third book hits, but that nevertheless provides a sense of sublime uncertainty once the story really kicks off. However, Obelisk’s best moments are purely character-driven. While this book is certainly short on new characters, the ones already established in Fifth are elevated to new levels of complexity. And it provides plenty of room for its flatter characters to become just as interesting as the main protagonists. For a book that involves floating obelisks and living, ten-thousand year old statues, Jemisin’s most insightful sections are profoundly, universally human. This book isn’t without its faults. The plot does occasionally feel rushed and the setting is often detrimentally left to the reader to fill in the details, but more so is this an equally brilliant sequel to Jemisin’s Hugo award winning 2015 novel, and is yet another example of how fantasy is a genre all too often overlooked.

— From Sam's Picks

Essun's missing daughter grows more powerful every day, and her choices may destroy the world in this "magnificent" Hugo Award winner and NYT Notable Book. (NPR)

The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night.

Essun -- once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger -- has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power -- and her choices will break the world.

N. K. Jemisin's award winning trilogy continues in the sequel to The Fifth Season.
N. K. Jemisin is a Brooklyn author who won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for The Fifth Season, which was also a New York Times Notable Book of 2015. She previously won the Locus Award for her first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and her short fiction and novels have been nominated multiple times for Hugo, World Fantasy, Nebula, and RT Reviewers' Choice awards, and shortlisted for the Crawford and the James Tiptree, Jr. awards. She is a science fiction and fantasy reviewer for the New York Times, and you can find her online at
Product Details ISBN: 9780316229265
ISBN-10: 0316229261
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: August 16th, 2016
Pages: 448
Language: English
Series: The Broken Earth
"Jemisin is now a pillar of speculative fiction, breathtakingly imaginative and narratively bold."—Entertainment Weekly

"Beyond the meticulous pacing, the thorough character work, and the staggering ambition and revelations of the narration, Jemisin is telling a story of our present, our failures, our actions in the face of repeated trauma, our responses to the heat and pressure of our times. Her accomplishment in this series is tremendous. It pole-vaults over the expectations I had for what epic fantasy should be and stands in magnificent testimony to what it could be."—NPR on The Obelisk Gate

"Jemisin builds off of the strong foundation laid in The Fifth Season ... an interesting new series."
Booklist on The Obelisk Gate

"Exceptional."—Library Journal (starred review) on The Obelisk Gate

"Stunning, again."—Kirkus (starred review) on The Obelisk Gate

"[How] can something as large and complex as this story exist in her head, and how does she manage to tell it to me so beautifully? I can't stand how much I love The Broken Earth trilogy so far.... Absolutely dazzling."—B&N Reviews on The Obelisk Gate

"Stunning.... Jemisin's most accomplished series yet."—RT Book Reviews on The Obelisk Gate

"Jemisin is a tremendously talented writer on every level and she's at the top of her game here. I love books that beat me up and take my lunch money, and this one left me bruised, breathless, and desperate for the final volume."—Rose Fox, senior reviews editor Publishers Weekly, (PW Staff Picks: The Best Books We Read in 2016) on The Obelisk Gate

"Brilliant characters, vivid world, and pacing . . . .The Obelisk Gate is an incredibly ambitious and important novel."—The Verge on The Obelisk Gate

"Intricate and extraordinary."—New York Times on The Fifth Season

"[The Fifth Season is] an ambitious book, with a shifting point of view, and a protagonist whose full complexity doesn't become apparent till toward the end ... Jemisin's work itself is part of a slow but definite change in sci-fi and fantasy."—Guardian on The Fifth Season

"Astounding... Jemisin maintains a gripping voice and an emotional core that not only carries the story through its complicated setting, but sets things up for even more staggering revelations to come."—NPR Books on The Fifth Season

"Jemisin's graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on The Fifth Season

"A must-buy...breaks uncharted ground."—Library Journal (starred review) on The Fifth Season

"Jemisin might just be the best world builder out there right now.... [She] is a master at what she does."
RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!) on The Fifth Season

"[A] powerful, epic novel of discovery, pain, and heartbreak."
SFF World on The Fifth Season

"This is an intense, exciting novel, where survival is always on the line, set in a fascinating, original and dangerous world with an intriguing mystery at the heart of it. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book!"—Martha Wells on The Fifth Season

"Stunning and well constructed ... a book that imbues itself with deeper meaning the more it unfolds and reveals itself, and by the end, I saw everything in a new light. I knew Jemisin was talented, being a huge fan of her Inheritance and Dreamblood books, but here she employs heretofore unseen skills."—Lightspeed on The Fifth Season

"One of the most celebrated new voices in epic fantasy."—

"With every new work, Jemisin's ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows."—Kirkus (starred review)

"Heartbreaking, wholly unexpected, and technically virtuosic, The Fifth Season is a tour-de-force. I felt every shock--and the book is packed with them--in my marrow. It's no exaggeration to say that Jemisin expands the range of what great fantasy can be."—Brian Staveley, author of The Emperor's Blades