Marit was pretty sure she had been murdered. She vividly recalled the assassin’s dagger, and her dying vision had shown her the next world - but her spirit had not made the journey. She woke alone, sprawled on a Guardian s altar, with more questions than answers. The Guardians once ruled the Hundred, but disappeared in ages past, leaving reeves to manage the peace in their stead. But Marit finds this peace has been shattered as a desperate army ravages the land, and its leaders walk in shadow, wearing the cloaks of lost Guardians.
As she searches for meanings in a changed world, Marit finds her old love Joss and the Outlander Anji struggling to maintain order amidst chaos. But her own enemies are drawing close. Marit tries to untangle the web of betrayals that connect her murder with the razing of the countryside, but she can’t run forever. She will be found and there will be choices: complicity or death.
When I finished ‘Shadow Gate’ by Kate Elliott, the second book in her Crossroads series, I found that I had not even written the review for the first book in the series, ‘Spirit Gate’. I’ve just finished reviewing that book, albeit a few months after finishing it. Not so with Shadow Gate, which I finished just last night, and it is still fresh in my mind.
In Spirit Gate there is a murder which seems to spark much of what we read next, and plays an integral part in the psychological distress of our main character. In Shadow Gate that character returns and we spend the better part of half this book in her perspective. It starts out as a game of catch up to bring us up parallel to where Spirit Gate left us off, and then moves forward, weaving in old with new characters and building the drama.
As I mentioned in the review for Spirit Gate, this series is a slow and descriptive one. Some may dislike that immediately, and to them I can only say that you are missing out (but if slow is not your thing, then slow is not your thing).
More is revealed about the shadowy figures running the end game, while even more questions are left unanswered. Characters who were once front and centre of the story resolve into ensemble players, while other characters who seemed to be nothing more than secondary step up into the same position.
Possibly the greatest addition to the list of characters is Nallo. Strong, fierce, and stuck between impossible choices, her evolution is one of the highlights and I was always anticipating returning to her perspective.
If you’re a fan of Kate Elliott, or authors such as Kristen Britain and Robin Hobb, then Spirit Gate and the whole Crossroads series will be a rewarding experience.
Review by Joshua S Hill
8.5/10 from 1 reviews
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