The Obelisk Gate - the cause of the Broken Earth
Book one of the Broken Earth trilogy, The Fifth Season, established a rich world with the unique characteristic of having a fifth season that occurs every so often in addition to the normal four. These seasons bring with them earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and acid rain from ash-choked air and they last for many years. Humanity survives by adopting Seasonal Law, a harsh culling of society down to only those who provide a valuable services and skills, along with the magic of Orogenes that do their best to control the shakes and divert the forces of the land away from communities. Alabaster, a ten-ring Orogene, finally reveals at the end of the first book that Fulcrum teaching is all wrong and that trained Orogenes, like himself and Essun, are just treating the symptoms and not the cause. He now knows the cause of these fifth seasons and he has taken the first step to address it. Unfortunately his effort has altered him in such a way that he is now dying and no longer capable of going any further, so he asks Essun to take the next step in saving the planet. Is she willing to believe his mad theory and put aside her search for her daughter? And sign up for the same fate as him in the process?
I really like the context added by Alabaster's revelation and the implications that it has for the characters, forcing them to make some difficult choices. This book continues to follow Essun as a main character but it also puts a lot more focus on her daughter, Nassun, who was kidnapped by her father in the first book. Nassun is every bit as strong of an Orogene as her mother but she is untrained and with her father. A father who killed his son when he discovered that he was an Orogene. To add even more risk to Nassun's life the two meet up with Schaffa, a Guardian who tried to take one of Essun's earlier children away from her and almost lost his life in the effort. Schaffa is a changed man, but still a dangerous one, and Nassun finds herself caught between two men who both have reasons from their past to end her life. Essun is still adamant about finding her but Alabaster's request has put the urgency of finding her daughter at odds with saving the entire planet.
Overall I found this entertaining and I am definitely looking forward to the conclusion in the next book. I don't particularly feel attached to any of the characters but the world and the overall story arch are both very compelling to me, so let's hope the N. K. Jemisin sticks the landing and makes the Trilogy all worthwhile. Neither of the first two books are standalone so only start this one if you are willing to go all the way. The audiobook version is narrated by Robin Miles and she does a good job bringing this world to life.