The Obelisk Gate, chapters 11 & 12

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Chapter 11

Schaffa dreams, probably of his childhood and life before Meov. He remembers the surgery that altered his sessapinae and made him a Guardian. He remembers some of the horrific things he did, including killing unborn babies. He remembers Damaya. When we wakes, he is revolted by what he was.

Chapter 12

Nassun is showing great orogene ability, by using "the silver" (what Alabaster and Essun call "magic") to control the earth. This is in contrast to Fulcrum teaching. The other Guardians let slip they knew about magic and the potential of obelisks, but suppressed the knowledge and the people who were capable of contacting the obelisks. Jija gets angry when he learns that Nassun is learning orogeny and that none of the children have been cured of it. Nassun's renewed fear of Jija causes Schaffa to order her to stay in Found Moon. Schaffa hints about Nassun's great purpose and her role in undoing a great wrong in the past. That night, Eitz wakes Nassun from a nightmare; Nassun calls on an obelisk and turns him to stone. Jija is scared away by Schaffa. Nassun also sessed the remnants of the node network, and the Antarctic Fulcurm with orogenes.

Questions

  • Are you convinced that Schaffa has changed his ethics? Is his concern for Nassun consistent with his contempt for Jija?
  • Why do you think the Guardians kept some "obelisk-aware" orogenes around in their breeding programme?
  • Hoa turned a kirkhusa to stone. Nassun turned Eitz to stone. Alabaster is turning himself to stone. How are all these connected to the stone eaters, and the moon?
  • Can you regard the Nassun/Jija separation as a manifestation of Nassun growing up? Does it matter that others are urging Nassun to move away from Jija while Nassun wants to stay with him?

Comments

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    Regarding Schaffa, he does seem to be resisting the “she” that is talking to him internally,,whom he was presumably obeying in the past. I don’t know if his ethics have really changed, but I do think his aim has changed.

    In last week’s reading, @Apocryphal noticed that narrator Hoa is reading Essun’s mind and telling her what she is thinking. I this week’s reading, narrator Hoa describes Schaffa’s dreams.

    I also notice that the narrator tells Essun she can’t be Nassun, while he has made a point of saying Essun is all kinds of people and they are her. So are Essun and Nassun becoming complementary / opposed entities who cannot merge / commune with each other the way narrator Hoa has described the listening (awakening.) Essun cane merge with other identities?

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    @NeilNjae said:

    >

    Questions

    • Are you convinced that Schaffa has changed his ethics? Is his concern for Nassun consistent with his contempt for Jija?

    His concern for Nassun wipes out all the babies he has killed completely - right? Just being sorry is enough! Right? Urgh! He's probably contemptuous of Jija because he has only killed one child.

    • Why do you think the Guardians kept some "obelisk-aware" orogenes around in their breeding programme?

    Because that is important to the future plot! :D

    • Hoa turned a kirkhusa to stone. Nassun turned Eitz to stone. Alabaster is turning himself to stone. How are all these connected to the stone eaters, and the moon?

    Lord! I have no idea! I will not attempt to figure this crazyness out!

    • Can you regard the Nassun/Jija separation as a manifestation of Nassun growing up?

    I keep things on the surface level. That lets me enjoy it on a certain level. :P

    Does it matter that others are urging Nassun to move away from Jija while Nassun wants to stay with him?

    It will possibly save her life, if some other baby killer doesn't get her. They are thick on the ground here.

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    Lots of violence in these chapters, both remembered and in-the-now. I find myself reading faster and skimming more, and it is becoming much more of an effort to slow down, read through at least twice, and dwell on the content. My reaction is to get the week's chapters over with as fast as possible and get on with something else. It's a different kind of violence than that indulged in by some of my historical fiction friends, where vivid and visceral battle scenes are currently de rigueur... it's a much more personal and intimate kind of violence which in many ways is far more horrific, especially as it seems to be both normal and unchallenged in this world.

    So I'm finding it hard to recall much by way of individual events in the chapters now... they flash by in a kind of miasma of brutality. I do remember the times when yet again, our-universe words throw me out of the story... "atoms" and "protons" in this case, which are utterly alien to the in-world perspective of the characters. Other than that, I can't remember much of note, except that Nassun is becoming ever more super heroish, and Schaffa is seriously screwed up and increasingly unpredictable. I don't think we followed Essun at all this week.

    I couldn't remember if we had heard of an Antarctic Fulcrum before, or if that was a new feature. And other than plot necessity, I couldn't see why Nassun would be able to sess stuff all the way up to the new catastrophic rift, but not the much closer Castrima comm, despite it having large numbers of orogenes and what have you. Basically the story is all becoming a kind if vicious blur to me.
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    @RichardAbbott said:

    So I'm finding it hard to recall much by way of individual events in the chapters now... they flash by in a kind of miasma of brutality. I do remember the times when yet again, our-universe words throw me out of the story... "atoms" and "protons" in this case, which are utterly alien to the in-world perspective of the characters. Other than that, I can't remember much of note, except that Nassun is becoming ever more super heroish, and Schaffa is seriously screwed up and increasingly unpredictable. I don't think we followed Essun at all this week.

    >

    Salmoning warning!

    I couldn't remember if we had heard of an Antarctic Fulcrum before, or if that was a new feature. And other than plot necessity, I couldn't see why Nassun would be able to sess stuff all the way up to the new catastrophic rift, but not the much closer Castrima comm, despite it having large numbers of orogenes and what have you. Basically the story is all becoming a kind if vicious blur to me.

    Let go of your logic! Logic gets in your way here. Eventually all these vicious, nasty people will go after each other, and only one brute will survive! Look forward to that! :p

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    Lots of violence in these chapters, both remembered and in-the-now. I find myself reading faster and skimming more, and it is becoming much more of an effort to slow down, read through at least twice, and dwell on the content. My reaction is to get the week's chapters over with as fast as possible and get on with something else.

    Is that because you're not enjoying the book, and want to get it over and done with? Is it because you're caught up in the action and keep turning the pages? Something else?

    It's a different kind of violence than that indulged in by some of my historical fiction friends, where vivid and visceral battle scenes are currently de rigueur... it's a much more personal and intimate kind of violence which in many ways is far more horrific, especially as it seems to be both normal and unchallenged in this world.

    Relating this back to gaming, are you saying the violence is more like Unknown Armies in tone (the victims are people, and everyone is affected by violence), rather than Star Wars (hordes of mooks fall unremarked in every scene)?

    Back to the real world. Jemisin is drawing on elements of US plantation slavery, at least in terms of attitudes towards othered people. Is the level of violence in the books comparable to the level of violence in that real-world society?

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    On the matter of ‘what kind of violence is this’ I would guess that @RichardAbbott is comparing the craft of martial arts in the historical stories with the hatred/revenge motifs in this book. The violence in The Broken Earth isn’t a means to an end, nor is it (like in Musashi, a samurai novel I recently read) about admiration for the craft of battle. It’s more purely about drawing grim satisfaction from hurting people.

    I don’t think the attitudes here resemble plantation slavery much. In plantations slaves were livestock and the system was designed to foster that illusion. Slaves were taught they were powerless, and owners justified this in their own minds by othering the slaves. But orogenes are far from powerless. In fact, they are the most powerful. Slaves were integral to society, but a severe second class. Orogenes are to be expunged, and only survive because the government can harness their powers. This is the X-men.

    I’m not convinced Schaffa has changed his ethics. He seems to still believe orogenes has a purpose and it’s his job to foster them to that purpose in a kill-or-be-killed world. I think possibly his idea of what that purpose is has changed, though.

    As for Nassun growing up, I don’t think she was ever really a child. She was born into this world as an adult.
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    @Apocryphal said:

    I agree with everything @Apocryphal says here, but especially this:

    As for Nassun growing up, I don’t think she was ever really a child. She was born into this world as an adult.

    Every time I come across a reference to her age, it jars me! Screw that! I refuse to accept the author's assertion that Nessun is a child. She has not and does not think or act like a child. In essense, Nassun is just another face for Essun. She's just the same little ball of hate.

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    edited May 16
    > @NeilNjae said:
    > (Quote)
    > Is that because you're not enjoying the book, and want to get it over and done with? Is it because you're caught up in the action and keep turning the pages? Something else?
    >

    Sad to say that my reading speed is not because I am enjoying it and am caught up in the exciting plot. I just want to get it over, but at the same time have this kind of festering anxiety that the worst is yet to come. Are we going to have chapters of torture? Rape? Other kinds of brutality?

    And all, apparently, in a world where there is no relief from horror. There seems no camaraderie between orogenes, only suspicion and relentless competitiveness. There is, if you like, no Barleyman Butterbur, no Tom Bombadil, no Imladris, no Lothlorien, no Ithiliien, no happy banter between hobbits... only the worst bits of Moria, the Dead Marshes, and Imlad Morgul rolled together. Endlessly.

    No sense of cosmic balance. No apparent concept of inclusiveness or redemption. No possibility of Gollum becoming Smeagol. No apparent standard of morality that people might aspire to or fail to live up to, only some pragmatic gnomic stuff on old stone tablets.

    > (Quote)
    > Relating this back to gaming, are you saying the violence is more like Unknown Armies in tone (the victims are people, and everyone is affected by violence), rather than Star Wars (hordes of mooks fall unremarked in every scene)?
    >

    I must confess to not knowing Unknown Armies, but inferring the content from what you say, the answer is a tentative yes. The violence is more like sadism than battle.

    > Back to the real world. Jemisin is drawing on elements of US plantation slavery, at least in terms of attitudes towards othered people. Is the level of violence in the books comparable to the level of violence in that real-world society?

    Because of living on the Old World side of the Atlantic, I don't know much in detail about that era. But following @Apocryphal 's post, I'd have to say that I don't feel it's comparable. The situations don't seem to me to be parallel, and as elaborated at length above, there's no balancing positive supporting culture to retreat to from the external viciousness. But Jemisin might - probably would - say that I don't know what I'm talking about.
  • 1

    @RichardAbbott said:

    Sad to say that my reading speed is not because I am enjoying it and am caught up in the exciting plot. I just want to get it over, but at the same time have this kind of festering anxiety that the worst is yet to come. Are we going to have chapters of torture? Rape? Other kinds of brutality?

    Without giving too much away, and with the proviso that I can't remember all that many details from when I read these books the first time, things do improve. There's been a lot of exposition and "laying pipe" to set things up. Those things start paying off.

    Not that it's all happiness and light from here on in. But we do get some hope in the story.

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    The phrase 'laying pipe' must have a very different connotation in your part of the world than mine, @NeilNjae! :p

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    @clash_bowley said:
    The phrase 'laying pipe' must have a very different connotation in your part of the world than mine, @NeilNjae! :p

    And for that reason alone, I shall use the phrase as much as possible.

  • 1
    And so the pipe of new tradition is laid....

    (For my part I understand Neil’s context but not Clash’s)
  • 1

    I understood @NeilNjae from the context of the rest of his comment, but I know the metaphor of which @clash_bowley speaks with no context. I would have used the phrase “laying the foundation” to mean the same as what @NeilNjae said.

  • 0

    Must be a US euphemism... I haven't come across it on this side of the pond...

  • 1

    I picked up the phrase from Robin Laws's book on story structure. I guess he was aware of the euphemism, being Canadian, even if it's not used over here.

  • 1
    I’ve never heard of the use Clash mentions. They also use the word ‘gangbangers’ very differently.
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