a vicious cycle, unbroken- the Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin [Review]

If you haven’t read Book 1 beware of possible spoilers!

My review on Book 1, the Fifth Season.

My thoughts on Book 2 of the Broken Earth Trilogy, The Obelisk Gate.


When we last left Essun and the gang they had just stumbled upon a comm in which regular people (stills) and orogenes co-exist. There she stumbles upon Alabaster. Essun and Alabaster’s relationship in the first book had multiple layers ranging from dislike to appreciation and maybe even love? It was great to see how he was a mentor, a very annoying friend, and an old flame(?) all wrapped up in one. Alabaster, who is responsible for the current Fifth Season, that can potentially wipe out all humans, has a way to fix things so he takes it upon himself to teach Essun.

What’s interesting this time around is that we have Nassun, Essun’s kidnapped daughter’s perspective. It’s interesting to see her story unfold along and how her path crosses with someone else from Essun’s past who has the potential to really shake things up.

“Being useful to others is not the same thing as being equal.”

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While I did take awhile to finish this one due to having a life (darn life!) the plot I felt to move along very, very slowly; maybe even slower than the first book? While in Book 1 we are presented with the complex person that is Essun, now it’s Nassun’s turn for some character development.

I was really interested in how Essun’s and Nassun’s mother-daughter relationship worked. In their relationship, I saw this vicious cycle of training orogenes in an abusive way. The same harsh lessons Nassun was taught, she instills in her daughter giving her reasons to dislike or maybe even hate her own mother. This is very much akin to real life family relationships. Sometimes children hate the way they were raised or swear they won’t treat their kids that way only to end up doing the same things to their kids. And so the cycle continues…

Another part of this cycle is the abusive, masochistic relationships between orogenes and guardians. Nassun develops her own sort of twisted relationship with her guardian to the point that she does not care if he kills her or not as long as he loves her. There seems to be this idea that seems embedded in orogenes’ mind that since they are unworthy of love, when they finally find it, they put up with the abusive, hurtful side of that “love.”

“No, I’m telling this wrong. After all a person is herself and others. Relationships chisel the final shape of one’s being. I am me and you.”

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To Essun, history also seems to repeat itself in the comm as well, as ordinary people are one push away from turning on the orogenes. It is something she has witnessed time and again. Essun’s jaded self has already decided there’s no way to prevent it, or is there?

The second person point of view can get a little confusing sometimes but I’ve heard that in the final book there are revelations that when you look back at Book 1 and 2, everything comes together and makes sense. Looking forward to Book 3!

4 out of 5 mortars



  1. You’re absolutely right about the mother-daughter relationship. It was hard to read at times, but I think it’s pretty realistic.

    I struggled connecting to Nassun, and that didn’t change in the third book. However, Essun definitely grew on me throughout the series.

    I think the second book was the weakest, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy the final book. As much as I liked this series, I’m still not sure if I completely understand it. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling a little lost. I felt the same with Nassun. Essun so far is the one I feel more attached to but probably because she was really fleshed out in the first book. A part of me sympathizes with her and another part resented her a little for how she treated Nassun. Thanks for commenting! I’m really looking forward to book 3!


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