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Spirit Gate: Book One of Crossroads
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 October 2007
I really want book 2 right now, I feel a great need to continue the story.

It's not *quite* a 5* book but close, very close. There are moments when I found myself wondering what perspective I was reading from but once I got my bearings I couldn't stop reading. I was disgusted by intrusions from real life that got in the way of the story.

The story starts with a shocker, a character introduced as important is killed. However this does explain why her partner and lover does some of the things he does later (including trying to drown his sorrows regularly). Then it moves to a young woman in a different country and what happens when a handsome captain of an occupying force falls for her and offers for her hand in marriage.

There are some leaps in time here and the concept of people riding eagles has been done before. The eagle riders are called Reeves and are entrusted with the justice of the land (yes a select group with special mounts who serve justice, again done again) and they're losing the battle for power. Someone, somewhere is gathering power and some unsavory types and undermining the Reeves. The other mystery is where the Guardians of the land are. Old folk remember them, but they haven't been seen in generations, have they forgotten their covenant to the land and it's people? Have the Gods?

It's interesting how the different people interact and how different cultural differences are drawn, the characters became quite vivid in my mind by the end and I was left feeling annoyed that I couldn't immediately continue with the story. There are places where it falters I found it interesting and exciting. Others may not find it so but Kate Elliott has found a fan.
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on 26 November 2014
The kind of book you are totally into by the end of the first chapter. Kate Elliott writes beautifully, I love the way she brings the characters together from so far apart (I read them with the map of her world next to me!) - her books are proper epic fantasies. Highly recommend.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Kate Elliott is the author of the highly successful Crown of Stars series. Crossroads is her new series, a seven-volume series which is divided into two trilogies with a linking book between them. Spirit Gate is the first book of the first trilogy (to be followed by Shadow Gate and Traitor's Gate).

For centuries the land of the Hundred was ruled by the Guardians, powerful beings to dispense justice, aided by their reeves, effectively a police force riding giant eagles. The Guardians have disappeared and are feared dead, but the reevers remain, overstretched and in increasingly few numbers as chaos and barbarism spreads across the land. Reeve Joss is given the difficult task of restoring order to an area in the south ravaged by bandit attacks, threatening trade between the Hundred and the Sirniakan Empire to the south-west.

Meanwhile, in lands far beyond the Hundred and the Empire, a Qin warrior named Anji marries a local woman, Mai, and finds himself and his troop of 200 soldiers drawn into danger and adventure, forcing them to flee their lands and journey into the Hundred, where they find the land on the brink of full-scale war.

Spirit Gate is a compelling story set in an interesting and well-realised world. Whilst Crown of Stars was deliberately set in a very rigid society highly reminiscent of medieval Europe, Crossroads is far more original and fantastical, although the two works share some character tropes and ideas. The book opens with a nice piece of misdirection that holds the attention and directs the reader into the story. However, the pacing is mismatched and key characters, most notably Joss, disappear for long stretches. In other places the timeline is a bit confused, with Elliott not being afraid to revisit the events of several chapters past from another POV, although once you get used to it this plot device does start yielding useful information. There is also a rather odd tendency for central characters to engage in frivolous discussions and banter in the middle of mortal danger, which defuses tension from the book, and after a very impressive build-up to a major confrontation at the end of the book, the actual final battle is resolved in perhaps two pages at best, which is very disappointing.

On the plus side, the relationship between the reeves and their eagles is well-defined. Those fearing that the giant eagles were going to be reduced to cuddly sidekicks can rest assured that these animals are depicted as the dangerous creatures they are. The idea that the reeves are policemen and not soldiers is also nicely done and leads to some interesting exploration of the roles of the police and the military in a fantasy world.

Unfortunately, the central threat in the book is left rather vauge and undefined. Is chaos and lawlessness returning in general because the Guardians are gone and some people are taking advantage of it, or is there a much darker master plan at work? Elliott hints at both possibilities but never really gives us enough information to come to a conclusion.

Spirit Gate (***) is an enjoyable and solid fantasy novel with some very nice ideas which doesn't entirely come together satisfyingly. Still, the novel leaves me intrigued to read the sequel, which I suppose is its main objective.
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on 1 October 2012
Spirit Gate creates an immersive fantasy world with well developed characters, and the supernatural woven subtly through it. Looking forward to finishing the series.
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on 15 February 2014
Great series of books. I really enjoyed this first book. I loved the characters, and look forward to reading the next book in the series.
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on 21 April 2014
really enjoyed this book, a very good read, could not put it down, ended to quickly, as I read a lot.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2008
I havent been a great fan of Kate Elliott's previous work, but I loved this book. The several storylines, the nature of which can be gleaned from the publisher's blurb, intersect some way into this lengthy read, but the writing is intelligent and the story refreshingly different, though drawing on actual historical cultures for inspiration. The main characters are complex, rather than instantly likeable or stereotypical, and are gradually revealed such that not too much is predictably anticipated. It is the introductory volume in what promises to be an intriguing and satisfying series. If you've enjoyed The Empire Trilogy by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurtz, Melanie Rawn's first books or Elizabeth Lynn's works, try this. You won't be disappointed.
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on 9 July 2014
read all the series loved it
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on 17 August 2014
Drags a bit but good story
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I've read other books by Kate Elliott before so was happy enough to pick this one up (or download it to my kindle, as the case may be). However, so far it's quite a disappointment...
When does it actually start making sense? I am more than half-way through, and still didn't get to the point where I see a plot developing. The characters are interesting, but there is so much fluff and so much repetition it's beginning to bore. If it doesn't start going somewhere fast it will simply be deleted...
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