Your Mileage May Vary: The Obelisk Gate

Hello and welcome to the first 2021 edition of Your Mileage May Vary, the blog series in which I review books I actually finished! This week I’ll be discussing N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate, the second entry in the Broken Earth trilogy.

As always, a reminder:

Spoiler alert!

If you read my review of The Fifth Season, you’ll know that I greatly enjoyed the first entry in this trilogy. The Obelisk Gate is even better.

I mean, what can I say? It was excellent in all the ways that The Fifth Season grated on me. Though there were still moments when I felt dumb, and when Essun was so stubborn I wanted to throttle her, and when I was so unsettled by what I was reading I had to put it down for a few days to digest, but unlike the first novel, in The Obelisk Gate this only enhanced the experience.

Where The Fifth Season was largely backstory, The Obelisk Gate was forward momentum. Where the climax of the first novel was a foregone conclusion that I was heartbroken to read because I knew already how it would end, this time it was a terrifying, thrilling peak that overwhelmed my typically ponderous reading pace.

The reveal at the opening of the novel that Nassun feared her mother and hated her training so much that she was on the point of fleeing her home before the apocalypse struck took my breath away. It makes perfect sense, and yet it never occurred to me during the course of the first novel. The Mummy-esque scene with the metal shard worming it’s way up Tonkee’s arm, and it’s gorier, scarier conclusion had me positively squirming. The trip down Schaffa’s own memory lane was so disconcerting I had to take a break — and spent my time away thinking about it anyway. Hoa narrating was… I mean… just excellent, really. Some of my favorite parts.

What more can I say? I have been going over this review for days, going over The Obelisk Gate in my mind, trying to find some small, petty complaint so I don’t spend this entire space raving. But I can’t.  It was just a great, great read. In fact, as good as The Fifth Season was, it almost feels like a disservice to it’s sequel. And yet, with all the information I have, I can’t wait to go back and read it with fresh eyes. But first, I have the ending to the trilogy to get to.

Final rating for The Obelisk Gate: five out of five miles and I wish I had more to give.


I know I’m behind the curve here and I know it’s boring to gush, but what can I say. I like what I like. And what I like is N.K. Jemisin apparently. But it feels good to be back in the saddle, reading and reviewing. Tomorrow I’ll start Black Leopard, Red Wolf and on Thursday I’ll be back here for your regularly scheduled blog post. Until then, my friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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