Original Review: February 17, 2017
The moment everything clicked for me. The sudden realization that the real story wasn't at all about Essun/Nassun, the Stone Eaters, the Orogene, the Guardians... the real story, here, is about the Earth. Yes, it's approached so much as mythology, or a theology, depending on who's perspective is speaking, but that's what this whole story is about. The reason I couldn't connect with the characters being displayed is because those stories aren't important in the grand scheme of things.
And if I had to point out one thing that demonstrated the utter skill Jemisin possesses as a writer, it would be in the use of second person POV. Even without the revelations made in this part of the story, it never really registered as being awkward or strange at all. It seemed natural, and a great way to tie everything together. Even matters left hanging in the first book were finally brought to light here, and if it had been any other POV other than second person, I don't know that it would have worked out as well as it did.
I am starting to develop more of an interest in some of the characters, though maybe not the ones that might seem the most likely. Schaffa, for one. I'm disappointed to see so many reviews that don't even mention how much more insight we get into his character - and that of the other Guardians - in The Obelisk Gate. Into them, and into the Stone Eaters.
The most magical thing about The Obelisk Gate, however, is the fact that, when I sit down and really think about it, and the information I have so far... I can't tell which side is the one I'm supposed to be rooting for. I can't even tell which side I want to be rooting for, because... well, there's death, destruction, and a self-perpetuating exclusionary mentality that pervades every side, which seems to be the very thing everyone is railing against. Which right, is right?
I'm still catching vibes of the Aes Sedai from Robert Jordan's WoT series. The way the Orogene's can link, the way the Obelisks can work with Orogenes, the "potential" in Guardians vs. the manifestation in Orogenes.
And while I adore getting so much more information on the Guardians and the Stone Eaters, it unfortunately makes certain things about this book so much more confusing. Then again, the way The Obelisk Gate wrapped up confusions from The Fifth Season, it could just be a way to tie this book into the next more smoothly.
The Obelisk Gate has completely turned my gripe about the lack of characterization on it's head. Jemisin characterized where it counted - where it really mattered - to the overall scope of the story she's writing. The Obelisk Gate has cemented her place as one of my favorite authors, for her brilliant use of perspective, characterization, world building and yarn spinning. I was so engrossed in this story it took me a mere few hours to read, with the conclusion that I would willingly go back and listen to it, despite my aversion to audiobooks.
I knew I would give this book five stars before I was even half of the way through it.