Fantasy Book Review – Spirit Gate – Crossroads #1 by Kate Elliott

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

For hundreds of years the Guardians have ruled the world of the Hundred, but these powerful gods no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles, still represent the Guardians’ power. And the reeves are losing their authority; for there is a dark shadow across the land that not even the reeves can stop.

A group of fanatics has risen to devour villages, towns, and cities in their drive to annihilate all who oppose them. No one knows who leads them; they seem inhumanly cruel and powerful. Mai and Anji, riding with a company of dedicated warriors and a single reeve who may hold a key to stopping the deadly advance of the devouring horde, must try, or the world will be lost to the carnage. But a young woman sworn to the Goddess may prove more important than them all . . . if they are not too late.

I have just finished reading this and to be honest, I’m not sure what I think of it.

I expected the giant eagles would be something more along the lines of the Companions in the Valdemar series. I thought they would have some type of bond or telepathic connection with their Reeves, but they don’t. The only similarities are that the eagles choose their Reeves and Companions choose their Heralds. It’s also never really explained how exactly an eagle chooses a person to become a Reeve.

I felt like this book lacked enough action to truly keep me engaged. My mind wandered often while reading. A lot of the narrative just feels like a long set up before getting to the point. I’m not sure what the point even was. The journeys of the different characters do bring them together as the plot intertwines.

As for the characters, I like Mai and her husband Anji. Mai is beautiful and therefore not expected to be smart. Most of her life she has molded herself to what she believed others wanted her to be. Once she is married and leaves her hometown, she is suddenly free to become who she truly is. It’s also nice that Anji is a good man who never forces her into anything.

Mai’s uncle, Shai, who left with his niece and her new husband hasn’t really grown on me. Sometimes he was just kind of whiney and I didn’t care much for his POV. Reeve Joss is a broken man who is grieving the loss of his lover even after 20 years.

One thing I did really like is that the cultures were based more in Asian cultures than western ones. A woman with blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin is thought to be a demon or the spawn of a demon because her colouring is so unusual. The majority of the people, including all the main characters, have darker skin tones, hair and eyes. In a genre that often defaults to a more mid-evil Europe type of settings, this was refreshing.

There was nothing in particular that I disliked about this book, but I would have liked more action, more sense of urgency to keep me more engaged as I read. The ending of the book was certainly enough to guarantee that I will read the next book. I just hope the next two books are more engaging.

Oddly, there is no type of magic system here. It is mentioned that there is some type of magic around the eagles to help them choose Reeves but what exactly that magic is or where it comes from, isn’t mentioned.

My rating for this novel is 3 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy a slower paced fantasy with little to no magic.

Thanks for reading!

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