This is the second of the Broken World trilogy, and it is every bit as good as the first. I have found that trilogy-reading can be dicey. Usually, the first is great, the second is pretty good, and the third is meh. Not always, but often enough for me not to get my hopes up. Well, raise the hope flag, kiddies, because The Obelisk Gate is another page turner.
It continues the story of Damalya/Syenite/Essun, as she travels on to find her daughter, Nessum.
In the world of the Stillness, earthquakes occur with such devastating frequency that their aftermath is called a Fifth Season: a season of ashy skies, boiled oceans, fauna and flora that change their behavior in accordance with the vicious atmosphere. The world has lasted this long because of orogenes, people born with the ability to manipulate thermodynamics such that they can quell shakes and divert disaster. But orogenes are a feared and oppressed minority among the so-called stills, kept in check by Guardians who can resist and disrupt their power.
We now see Essun — who was Syenite, who was Damaya — living underground in a strange crystal-ridden community called Castrima. Essun had been taken in by a community that at least nominally accepted roggas (as orogenes are called, derisively.) The community lives in a geode deep in the earth, a structure undoubtedly of ancient and occult origin. She and her traveling companions—a boy who is not a child, and a woman who has strange talents of her own—attempt to fit in, to grieve and survive this bleak new world. Essen also finds someone from her past: a teacher of sorts, a lover, the strongest orogene in the world. The man who broke the world as it broke him. , learning that her old friend, mentor and lover, Alabaster — the most powerful orogene in the Stillness — is responsible for the current Season. Drawing power from the incomprehensible obelisks that float in the skies, he tore the continent apart trying to use their power to break the sick social order and begin the enormous work of ending the terrible cycle of Seasons. He is trying to bring the moon back into orbit, from which it was flung eons ago.
But the cost of using the obelisks is high. Alabaster is slowly turning into stone, and Essun needs to learn all she can from him if she’s to complete the work he began, and end the Seasons once and for all.
The Obelisk Gate won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, and The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015.