The Obelisk Gate, chapters 13, interlude, 14
Essun applies her harsh teaching methods to the orogene children of Castrima, preparing them for the moment when the stills of Castrima rise up to kill them. Essun continues to learn about magic from Alabaster. He reveals that the Guardians are the third faction in the war between Father Earth and humans. He also describes how he used the obelisk network and node maintainers to open the Yumenes rift. Rennanis is mentioned as a centre of surviving node maintainers. Ykka enlists Essun to remove Tonkee from Castrima's conrol room. Ykka tells the story of how the Castrima stills didn't turn against her when she revealed her abilities, and Hjarka comments that Castrima is a new type of place. Tonkee lets Essun (and others) into the control room. They investigate a plinth that guards some shards of rusted iron. Tonkee and Ykka argue over Tonkee's acess to the control room. Tonkee grabs one of the iron needles, it burrows into her, and Essun saves Tonkee at the cost of amputating her arm with magic.
Hoa describes "killing" several stone eaters near Castrima and mentions another powerful stone eater assembling human forces to attack Essun in Castrima.
Six months have passed for Essun as she settles into life in Castrima. Tonkee and Hjarka start a relationship. Tonkee describes the pressing need for meat to Castrima's leadership. Rennanis declares war on Castrima, by both killing a hunting party and by a grey stone eater appearing in the middle of Castrima (with Hoa's arm). Rennanis seems to have adopted the "scrap of fine cloth" signifier of the equatorial people feeling Yumenes. Essun uses an obelisk to detect what's around and discovers an army marching on Castrima. The stone eater gives Renannis's terms. Essun attacks the stone eater, who leaves. Essun finds most of Hoa in her room. She feeds him his stone "meal" and Hoa reforms, inside another geode. Hoa is revealed as the stone eater inside the garnet oblisk at Allia.
The chapter endnote is the declaration of orogenes being non-human.
- Does the notion of Guardians being the "third side" make sense?
- There is a lot of reincorporation of earlier elements (the things in Guardians, rusty iron needles, scraps of fine cloth, magic to affect living tissue and poison, Hoa's stone food, the garnet obelisk). When all these pipes were laid, introduced, they didn't seem connected. Has the earlier confusion been worth it? Have things paid off? Would the book be better or worse if these factors were introduced now, rather that callbacks from earlier?
- There's a lot of action in these chapters, and action is something Jemisin does well. Does she do it well in these chapters? How does she do it, and what techniques can we learn from her?