Monday 12 December 2016

The Obelisk Gate

(September 2016)

Once more I find myself incapable of stringing together much in the way of coherent thought, though that's probably as much to do with the two-month gap between reading the book and writing this as much as anything else.

It's a testament to the strength of Jemisin's writhing that even after that long certain things remain, for while this a very different book to The Fifth Season, and in many ways a more traditional one, I'd be hard pressed to describe it as inferior. This is all the more impressive because for the first half of the book really nothing much happens at all, focussing as it does on the internecine politics of a community under pressure as Essun attempts to integrate herself and her companions into the comm of Castrima. The necessary (and it is) movement comes courtesy of Essun's daughter, Nassun, travelling south with her father, and she is every inch her mother's child.

There's so much to unpack here, and it's all done with the fluency and ease that you know can only be produced by a writer of consummate craft at the top of their game. If it doesn't quite pack the same visceral sense of shock as its predecessor, then it definitely promises more for the final part of the trilogy. As a final note, I'll point you in the way of this list which has been floating around the internet, on the best punctuation in literature, and state with no sense of hyperbole whatsoever that if future versions don't include the parentheses in the last few chapters of The Obelisk Gate then they'll be wholly worthless. Jemisin knows exactly what she's doing.

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