The Obelisk Gate, chapters 17 & 18, interlude
After observing Steel the stone-eater calm Schaffa earlier, Nassun enjoys using her abilty to manipulate magic/silver to heal plants, animals, and people (though she executes a commless raider she experiments on). We see that Nassun is much more powerful than any other orogene in Found Moon. Nassun offers to remove the object in Schaffa's sessapinae, his corestone. Schaffa refuses, as he wants to keep the vitality it provides. Nassun nearly removes it anyway. Nassun goes to see Jija and they argue about her continuing orogene nature. Jija tells Nassun about how a friend of his was killed by an orogene. They argue more and Nassun scares him with orogeny.
Hoa is revealed as the narrator of the Essun chapters. He also reveals that Grey Man / Steel wants Essun for his own purposes and aiming to destroy Castrima to get to her. Essun and Alabaster discuss the inevitablity of stills turning on roggas. The orogenes of Castrima prepare to defend themselves from lynching. Ykka has called for a vote on Rennanis's offer in the morning. During the night, Bets maybe attacked Cutter and Cutter killed Bets. Ykka defuses the scene by executing Cutter. Later, Waineen fights Penty, an orogene child. Nassun has a flashback to Jija killing Uche, draws on an obelisk, and turns Waineen to stone. Alabaster intervenes to stop Essun killing many more people, at the cost of completing his conversion to stone. Antimony takes Alabaster's body, after a gnomic message about the onyx obelisk. Essun puts on the rings Alabaster made for her. She uses his spinel obelisk-knife to destroy the ballot box with the words, "No voting on who gets to be people." Essun is now the dictator of Castrima.
Hoa attempts to call a truce with his enemy, but receives only a howl of rage as reply.
- Is Schaffa's insistence on keeping his corestone because of his love of Nassun or his desire to live?
- Why did Nassun hold back from removing Schaffa's corestone, when she doesn't hold back from doing worse things that she feels are right?
- A key part of the argument between Jija and Nassun is Jija lying to himself. How does Jija's self-deception contrast with Nassun's "clear sightedness"?
- Did you expect that Hoa was the one narrating Essun's life to Essun? Any speculation as to how this would come to be?
- Were you convinced by the portrayal of the tension in Castrima overnight?
- What's the symbolism of Essun wearing an orogene's rings?
- Current events: how does the novel's depiction of race relations and racially-motivated conflict resonate with current events in the US? Do orogene lives matter? Is Essun right to seize control by force?
Personally, Essun's cry of "No voting on who gets to be people" is the key point of the novel. The themes of dehumanisation and recognition have been key throughout. What do other people think of this reading? Does this novel have anything to say about who we do, and should, regard as "people"?