Hello humans! Today I am reviewing the second book in N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy, I thoroughly enjoyed the first book The Fifth Season and, unusually for me, actually managed to read the next book in a fairly timely manner afterwards. Since it was leaving too long of a gap between books that hindered my enjoyment of The Shadowed Sun I am glad I managed to read this before I’d forgotten all that happened in the first book!
Potential spoilers ahead for The Fifth Season but this should be spoiler free for The Obelisk Gate.
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.
Content warning: child abuse, violence
Reviewing a sequel is always tricky because there is a temptation to repeat what you said in the first review. I’ll do my best to not do that here. I think the main change between these two books is that where the first book moved around in time, this book instead has multiple POV. I actually enjoyed the addition of Essun’s daughter, especially at the times when Essun can get a little bit grating (don’t get me wrong, I love a character who is flawed but you do need a break at times). Nassun’s story is interesting in the ways it parallels that of Essun and in the way it diverges.
What I also enjoyed was that in this book you get to experience how the world changes during ‘a season’. The focus is on how the animals adapt to the changes in the environment, sometimes in quite a disturbing way. I found this fascinating and I liked that the way that the animals adapt to survive is mirrored in the way that humans find a way to live through the seasons.
This is not a happy book. Not by any means. I got so attached to these characters all I wanted was for them to have a happy ending, but this isn’t that kind of book. What I did appreciate is that although this isn’t a happy, sunshine and rainbows kind of a book, the characters nonetheless get moments of triumph. Some authors can take the ‘kill your darlings’ idea too far and you just end up stuck in a totally miserable story with no peaks and troughs.
This book is, by the necessity of being the middle book in the trilogy, building to the epic conclusion in The Stone Sky, but it doesn’t fall into the slump that some second novels do. I think that because this book is quite different from The Fifth Season it actually feels more like a duology paired with a prequel? But in a good way! I finished this book excited to get onto the finale (and I’m pleased to say I did – watch out for that review soon!).
The only thing this book was missing that The Fifth Season had, was the surprise element. I don’t think that was necessary, but it was why this got one less star than the first book.
My rating: 4/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? Have you read this trilogy? Tempted? Let me know in the comments below!