The Obelisk Gate 85/100 – N. K. Jemisin


Overview: The Obelisk Gate picks right up where The Fifth Season left us and we finally find out what Nassun has been up to.  I’ve been really busy lately so I haven’t been able to post, but I just got back from a business trip in Florida so I had some time on the planes and knocked this book out.  The Obelisk Gate has a really interesting narrative throughout the book which I loved.  We get to read what Essun says or how she immediately interprets what’s happening, but also get a hindsight view of what’s really happening.  It’s a really cool way to give a more in-depth view on what’s happening.  I was so excited to read more about Hoa and the other stone eaters, but replaying what happened to both Coru and Uche was hard.  I don’t know if it’s just me since I have a 7 month old baby at home, but I was glad when those sections were over.  The Obelisk Gate answered a lot of questions I’ve had since The Fifth Season but also left enough unanswered to keep me wanting more.  August can’t come soon enough to find out how this all ends.


  1. Concept: 10/10 Jemisin weaves a bleak landscape where everything is trying to kill you.  It’s the end of the world and watching everyone struggle to survive with more and more going wrong just works.
  2. Writing: 8/10 Jemisin’s style of writing, although very immersive did have me sitting there thinking “what did I just read” a few times.  The text sometimes gets overly convoluted, but all in all it’s a great read.  It reminded me a lot of Xenocide from the Ender’s Game series.  It gets really complicated to explain a few things which probably could have been done in an easier way, but it just works.
  3. How long did it take to get into the book: 9/10 The Obelisk Gate picks up with Nassun which I was personally assuming was dead.  For Jija to beat Uche to death I couldn’t imagine that he’d keep Nassun alive, but the explanation for their strange relationship was great.
  4. Character Development: 8/10 Schaffa!  I guess I was just really morbid after reading The Fifth Season and just assumed everyone was dead.  The world is ending after all, but the way the characters have changed throughout The Obelisk Gate has been great.  It’s so cool to see the different perspectives between Essun and Nassun about the same orogenic properties.  Getting to know more about Hoa and Antimony was awesome as well.  The stone eaters really are so unique and different that it’s hard to figure out their motives, but Jemisin does a great job at giving us bread crumbs to feed on.  Nassun was frustratingly one-dimensional.  I get that she has daddy issues, but her motives didn’t really make sense throughout the book.  It’ll be interesting to see when she meets her mother in the finale.
  5. Plot: 8/10 Essun really was right when she said that Alabaster was a terrible teacher.  We spent a few chapters of him trying to teach Essun something that Steel taught Nassun in 3 sentences.  I really liked the interactions in Castrima between all of the leaders and their different backgrounds and perspectives.  The racist undertones throughout the series come to a head and it was a great way to confront it all.
  6. Pacing: 7/10 While some of the more technical explanations from Alabaster were appreciated, a lot of it just went over my head and were way too complicated for the sake of being complicated.  It just goes to show you what a Fulcrum education gets you these days!
  7. Ending:  10/10 Seriously?!  What a crazy ending, it brings up so many more questions!!!  I can’t wait for The Stone Sky to finally answer the rest of my questions.
  8. Cover Art: 5/10 I really have no idea what this cover is supposed to be.  It’s pretty I guess, but I would have liked to see an Obelisk.
  9. World Building:  10/10 Jemisin does a great job at showcasing an apocalyptic world where everyone is struggling to survive.  The world is trying to kill everyone and even the wildlife is adapting to survive the season.  Boil bugs sound absolutely terrifying!
  10. Would I read other books by the Author:  10/10 I can’t wait for The Stone Sky!  Jemisin does a great job at showing events from different people’s’ perspectives which is especially fascinating when some of the characters are children or mentally ill.

Follow-up Questions:

Who was the hot-shot that got rid of the moon and why?

I was pretty skeptical about Father Earth being sentient and trying to kill everyone, but it seems like it’s true.  I wonder if there’s always been this battle between the Earth and the stone eaters.

How does one become a stone eater?  Is it just what happens to an orogene after they are fully consumed by magic or did Antimony take Alabaster’s remains somewhere and change him?

Where did the Guardians come from?  Where/what is Warrant?  Is it a piece of Father Earth that is embedded in the heads of each Guardian?

What does Steel really want and is he the same stone eater that killed Hoa?  If he’s simply trying to manipulate Nassun into stopping Essun, why explain the absence of the moon and ending the seasons to her?

Is Essun going to turn into stone each time she does orogeny now?  Will she be able to stop the end of the world before she fully converts or will that be on Nassun?



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