Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth) by N. K. Jemisin

The second part of a series. The book continues pretty much straight from the end of the earlier part, and some chapters happen simultaneously with some of the events of the first book. Now we learn what happened to Essun’s daughter and husband as they traveled to the Polar Regions and find a society of watchers and roggas/orogenes. The other part of the story tells how Essun reunites with Alabaster, who is turning into stone. Alabaster tries to teach her the ultimate secrets of oromancy, how it affects the smallest things, and not just quell earthquakes. Those secrets might be the only way anyone can survive the coming catastrophic “season”. At same time, at the underground city of Castrima, where at least some orogenes have been able to live in peace, is threatened by enemies.

The plot is pretty complicated and a lot happens, or at least a lot of back plot is explained. People (and other beings) have different, and somewhat unclear motivations who apparently try to achieve different things, but I don’t think ultimately that their goals might be similar - or then not. And it isn’t entirely clear at all which faction is the right one or “good guys” and which one is wrong or “evil”. The book mixes science fiction and fantasy. I usually prefer science fiction - and most things in the book might be explained scientifically as relics of the past and advanced civilizations, who mastered nanotechnology and similar technologies, but Earth itself, having an apparently real and spiteful consciousness, doesn’t really feel right. Also, the amount of backstory felt overwhelming at times – and at the same time it is hard to really know what is going on. The writing was very good, but otherwise this a slight letdown from the first part – but that is something which almost always happens in the middle parts of trilogies.

448 pp.

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