Audiobook Review: Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
Narrator: Robin Miles
Series: The Broken Earth #2
Also by this author: The Inheritance Trilogy - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Published by Hachette Audio, Orbit on August 18th 2016
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Length: 13 hours 19 minutes
Also in this series: The Fifth Season
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.
N. K. Jemisin is certainly a gifted story teller, and the world she is crafting in The Broken Earth series is fascinating. This second installment gives readers a better understanding of both the magic and the world, it advances the plot and lets you start to speculate on where the story might go next, and how the trilogy could end (for good or bad).
The relationships in the book continue to develop and the characters are all terribly human (meaning that they all have shades of grey to them, there is not purely “good” or purely “evil”). In this book we get three perspectives, one is Essun (from the first book) and another is Nassun (Essun’s Daughter). I have to admit, I loved getting more information on these two, but particularly Nassun. It was very interesting seeing Essun through Nassun’s perspective.We learned more about each of these women, their motivations and their magic.
Now, I want to mention if you haven’t read Obelisk Gate yet, and read Fifth Season last year, you would probably benefit to brush up on what happened. While I loved Fifth Season, I found myself saying “oh, yeah! I forgot about that!” more in this book than typical epic fantasy second books. Perhaps I am just more forgetful. But I do think it would be a good idea to just glance over some reviews or discussions to refresh your memory a bit.
My first stumbling points with this book was I found the use of second person narration to be more distracting than I remember it being in the first book. I think if I could understand the reason for it, I would handle it better. But as it stands right now, I keep wondering about its use, and speculating for possible yet to be revealed reasons for this stylistic choice (one theory is it will take a turn like the movie, The Notebook, where some other character is narrating those chapters to Essun herself (and yes, I totally just referenced Nicholas Sparks in a SFF review! No apologies. And yes, I know the movie is based on a book, but since I’ve seen the movie but not read the book, that is what I think of). Anyway, I did wonder if perhaps listening to the book instead of reading made this more jarring (because of some ingrained reflex to think someone is talking to me when they say ‘you’, but I honestly think this would have distracted me in print as well.
I also felt that there were some pacing issues in this one, and that it took a very long time for the story to really take off. I do wonder if I had read The Fifth Season more recently, if that may have helped (to go in with the momentum gained at the end of the first book).
I do feel like with both The Fifth Season and Obelisk Gate, Jemisin kicks the book up an incredible notch when the book nears the end. She is does a fantastic job of bringing the book to a close, but also leaving the reader with enough information to leave them eager to get their hands on the next book.
Audiobook Note: Miles does a fantastic job narrating, very easy to listen to and keeps her tone and level very inline with the book and draws you into the story.