The Obelisk Gate

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The Obelisk Gate
Jemisin Obelisk Gate cover.jpg
Softcover edition
Author N. K. Jemisin
Country United States
Language English
Series The Broken Earth trilogy
Genre Science fantasy
Publisher Orbit
Publication date
16 August 2016
Media type Print, e-book
Pages 433
Awards Hugo Award for Best Novel (2017)
ISBN 978-0-356-50836-8
OCLC 932174108
Preceded by The Fifth Season
Followed by The Stone Sky

The Obelisk Gate is a 2016 science fantasy novel by N. K. Jemisin and the second volume in the Broken Earth series—following The Fifth Season, and preceding The Stone Sky. The Obelisk Gate was released to strong reviews and, like its predecessor in the series, won the Hugo Award for Best Novel.[1]


The Obelisk Gate takes place on a single supercontinent, the Stillness, which suffers from catastrophic climate change every few centuries (the so-called "Fifth Season"). The book continues forward from an especially bad Fifth Season, one that may become an apocalypse. It follows two main characters: a mother and daughter, both of whom are magically talented ("orogenes"), who were separated just before the most recent Fifth Season. The plot revolves around their journey to find each other once again, and their efforts to discover why Fifth Seasons exist.[2]


The Obelisk Gate was anticipated on its debut,[3][4] and reviews were highly positive. Writing for NPR, poet Amal El-Mohtar said that "Not only could I not put it down—I couldn't come up for air long enough to comment on it while forsaking sleep and food in order to finish it", continuing on to say that "It pole vaults over the expectations I had for what epic fantasy should be and stands in magnificent testimony to what it could be."[5] It later appeared on The Verge's list of the best science fiction and fantasy novels of 2016, where they wrote that the book "is an incredibly ambitious and important novel" that "continues to build on its predecessor's brilliance",[6] as well as Wired's, who believed that it was better than The Fifth Season.[7]

Niall Alexander, on, by contrast, was critical of The Obelisk Gate for falling into what he called "middle volume syndrome", believing that the book

sacrifices The Fifth Season's substance and sense of momentum for a far slighter and slower story. ... The Obelisk Gate is small and safe where The Fifth Season was large and surprising, practically static where said was speedy; and although it builds out the world and its workings well ... it's a shame ... that such a stunning start should be succeeded by such a sedentary, albeit completely readable sequel.[8]

Wired, on the other hand, praised the book for escaping that syndrome, or what it called the typical "stalling" of middle books.[7]


The Obelisk Gate won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2017.[9][10][11][12][13] It was the second award for Jemisin's Broken Earth series (after The Fifth Season in 2016), making Jemisin the first author in over two decades to win the Best Novel Hugo in two consecutive years.[14] Moreover, The Obelisk Gate's victory came as part of a women-heavy slate of winners at the 2017 Hugos, which included best novel, novella, novelette, and short story.[9][10][15]

Outside of the Hugos, The Obelisk Gate was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, but lost to Charlie Jane Anders' All the Birds in the Sky.[16][17] It won RT Book Reviews' 2016 award for best high fantasy novel.[18]


  1. ^ Locus Publications (11 August 2017). "2017 Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners". Locus Online News. Retrieved 16 August 2017. 
  2. ^ Christensen, Ceridwen (16 August 2016). "The Obelisk Gate Offers No Easy Fix for a Broken World". Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "What We're Reading This Summer". The Atlantic. 30 July 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  4. ^ Eddy, Cheryl (2 August 2016). "15 Must-Read Science Fiction And Fantasy Books Arriving This August". Gizmodo Australia. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  5. ^ El-Mohtar, Amal (18 August 2016). "Riveting 'Obelisk Gate' Shatters The Stillness". NPR. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  6. ^ Liptak, Andrew (28 December 2016). "The 11 best science fiction and fantasy novels of 2016". The Verge. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Molteni, Megan (31 December 2017). "Wired's Required Science Reading From 2016". Wired. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  8. ^ Alexander, Niall (17 August 2016). "New Moon: The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin". Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Liptak, Andrew (11 August 2017). "Women swept nearly every category at the 2017 Hugo Awards". The Verge. Retrieved 11 August 2017. 
  10. ^ a b Flood, Alison (11 August 2017). "Hugo awards 2017: NK Jemisin wins best novel for second year in a row". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  11. ^ Britt, Ryan (11 August 2017). "This Sci-Fi Author is on a Hugo Winning Streak". Inverse. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  12. ^ Whitbrook, James (11 August 2017). "The 2017 Hugo Award Winners Are Here". io9. Gizmodo. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  13. ^ "Hugo Award for Best Novel 2017 given to N.K. Jemisin". The Times of India. 12 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017. 
  14. ^ Wilson, Kristian (12 August 2017). "N.K. Jemisin Makes Hugo Awards History With 'The Obelisk Gate'". Bustle. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  15. ^ Doctorow, Cory (12 August 2017). "2017 Hugo winners: excellent writing and editing by brilliant women". Boing Boing. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  16. ^ Liptak, Andrew (20 February 2017). "This year's Nebula Award nominees are incredibly diverse – read some online". The Verge. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  17. ^ Liptak, Andrew (20 May 2017). "Here are the winners of this year's Nebula Awards". The Verge. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  18. ^ "High Fantasy [Award, 2016]". RT Book Reviews. Retrieved 18 August 2017.