Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott (Crossroads series: Book 1)

For hundreds of years the Guardians ruled the Hundred, but these unearthly beings have faded from human sight and no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, patrolling from the skies, still represent the Guardians' power. But there is a corruption in the land that not even they can control, and fanatics are devastating villages, towns, and cities, slaughtering all who oppose them.

Outlanders Anji and Mai are fleeing their homeland with a company of dedicated warriors. On reaching the Hundred, they form an alliance with Reeve Joss, and determine to stand against the devouring horde. But, as region after region slips into chaos, a young woman sworn to the Goddess may be all that keeps them from annihilation...

Every now and again I’ll read a book and the promptly forget to review the damned thing. The reason behind this rare phenomenon is that I’m probably already halfway through another book and so my normal process falls by the wayside.

Such was the case with ‘Spirit Gate’ by Kate Elliott, one of my favourite authors, and though the memory of reading the book is fading fast, there are a few things that I do remember.

For new readers of Kate Elliott who may only have found her work thanks to her two most recent books – ‘Cold Magic’ and ‘Cold Fire’ – Spirit Gate will ring a few bells for you, but not as many as you might have expected. Elliott is definitely the author of both, but Spirit Gate is a lot more descriptive and revels in the beautiful world that the author has built for her story. There are flourishes to the world that speak of a laboured love affair in the creating; beautifully intricate weaving of religion with mythology.

I remember that I found the book, at first, a little difficult. It was unlike what I’d already read of Elliott and therefore I was unprepared for the longer-form of storytelling she has chosen for this Crossroads series.

For some, it may prove too much, but for others, the lovingly crafted world and words will excite and entice.

The characters are the focal point, naturally, and the Reeves the central theme. Chosen by the giant eagles gifted to the Hundred by the gods, the Reeves patrol and keep the peace. Woven into the land of the Hundred are Outlanders Mai, her husband Anji and his company of soldiers who are looking to start a new life in a new land. The interactions within the racial groups, and then the interactions between racial groups make for fascinating reading and wonderfully three-dimensional characters.

The overarching story is ethereal in the revelation; slow to be realised and slower still to understand the extent. This theme continues into the second book, but the slow build – for me – is rewarding and enjoyable.

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.

8/10 The overarching story is ethereal in the revelation; slow to be realised and slower still to underst

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