The key protagonist, Essun, remains the hero in The Obelisk Gate, as she settles into the underground community of Castrima. The surprise element of the previous book where all three POV characters are Essun at different stages of her life, is replaced with two main protagonists, Essun and her daughter Nassun, as they struggle to survive in a deteriorating world.
Nassun flees her hometown of Tirimo with her dangerously unpredictable father to the community of Found Moon where she is ultimately guided by the Guardian, Schaffa, who once guided her mother. Essun, with the help of Alabaster, further develops her orogene skills to prepare for the increasingly violent battle, raged by Father Earth against reckless human activity that led to the loss of its Moon.
Somewhere along the way, I lost interest in both protagonist’s, not really caring for either of them. I’ll put it down to the excessive descriptions used, no doubt setting up for the final instalment, but it read like two separate stories. I’d have given up on this book all together if not for Jemisin’s undoubted writing skills and the fact I so enjoyed book one. I suspect the third instalment will be as enjoyable as book one, as Essun’s and Nassun’s lives finally come together for the story’s resolution. Despite the trilogy’s slow middle, it remains a truly unique fantasy world told by a talented writer.