To summarize, it seems even the best authors can fall victim to Middle Book Syndrome.
I still adore N.K. Jemisin, I still think she’s a goddess. The Obelisk Gate just didn’t do it for me. The first book in this series, The Fifth Season, was just so exciting. It was filled with incredible world-building and a well-paced journey with a complex and likable heroine. But whereas The Fifth Season was probably 70% backstory, I should really have known this installment would focus more on the present.
The first half of the book was (comparatively) dull as mud. Nothing of much interest happens to Essun, she appeared stagnant and incapable. We got more about Nassun, Essun’s daughter, and her life-changing journey after the beginning of the latest apocalypse. Ultimately, she was interesting, but not for a long while.
By the time things really started happening, I had already given into my boredom. I really wasn’t invested, and all I was really hoping for was more of Schaffa’s backstory. He had quickly become the most intriguing character, as my love for Essun kind of waned.
I’m still going to read the final installment of this trilogy, but I hope the pacing improves in the next one.