Fantasy Book Review – Traitors Gate – Crossroads # 3 by Kate Elliott

Synopsis: In Spirit Gate and Shadow Gate, Kate Elliott took readers to the fascinating world of the Hundred, a land teeming with an array of cultures, gods, and conflicts blighted by the shadow of chaos and destruction. Now, with the same intensity and dramatic sweep that has brought this epic to life, Elliott returns to the exquisitely crafted cities and landscapes of the Hundred, in a thunderous conclusion to the saga.

In the darkness of war and destruction, forces gather to reclaim the peace: Those immortal Guardians who still serve justice seek a means to end the devastating reign of one of their own; a hired outlander army struggles to halt the advance of the horde that has despoiled vast lands and slaughtered countless people in its murderous wake, while still guarding against a burgeoning threat from an aggressively expansionist empire; and the eagle reeves who have long been the only law enforcers of the Hundred struggle to reorganize after a devastating massacre has decimated their numbers. But even as these forces give hope to those who would live in peace, a terrible danger looms: a traitor with Imperial ambitions, the most dreaded, least anticipated threat of all…

In the unfolding drama of political upheaval and violent change, nothing is certain, as alliances dissolve and power shifts with the unpredictability of a desert sandstorm. A riotous epic with the vast breadth and excitement only masterful storyteller Kate Elliott can summon, Traitors’ Gate will leave her many readers begging for more. 

From the very beginning of Traitors Gate, this did not feel like the conclusion to a trilogy. To me, it felt more like the third book in an ongoing series. There was just so much that was happening, new characters being introduced and conflicts that needed to be resolved. Despite this novel being close to 900 pages, I kept wondering through out how the author was going to resolve everything. Well, I wouldn’t really say that she did. This trilogy could easily become longer series. In fact, I would love to read another book in this world continuing from Traitors Gate.

As for the book itself, I think this has to be the best of the three. There was a lot more action, sense of danger and tension between characters. Shai in particular really comes into his own. In the beginning of Spirit Gate, he was a quiet recluse. By the end of Traitors Gate he’s become strong and confident. Putting himself in danger time after time to protect innocent lives. His adventure alone would be a worthy tale.

Unfortunately, I feel like this book (and the whole trilogy really) suffered from having too many characters. There were certain characters that I was far more interested in than others and I felt like the ones I actually cared about didn’t get very much page time. Marit and Kirit, for example, I didn’t get nearly enough of. I really wanted more about the Guardians in general. They were far more interesting than some of the other characters, but perhaps the author meant to keep an air of mystery around them.

One thing that really bothered me, not just about this book but the whole trilogy, was the prevalent misogyny. Men can basically do whatever they want in some cultures in this world. A man can literally go to a woman’s father and just buy her as a wife and there’s nothing she can do about it. She can’t say no. In one culture, the women aren’t even allowed to show there faces outside and their names can’t be spoken to outsiders. If her face is seen by a man not her kin, she’ll basically be disowned. It irritated me throughout that men, especially those in positions of power could just buy or take a woman if they wanted.

And the slavery! I’m sure the author was trying to show how horrible slaves are treated and that it is wrong and bad, but the things that happened to some of them was stomach turning. Did she have to go so far as to include pedophilia?

Kate Elliott knows how to keep readers on the edge of their seats, ending chapters in such a way that you have to keep going. So many times, I was like “omg, I can’t believe that just happened!” There were so many unexpected things here.

Overall, I think Crossroads is a great fantasy trilogy that any fan of the genre would enjoy. My rating for Traitors Gate is 4 out of 5 stars and I would recommend it to fans of fantasy who also enjoy political intrigue and multiple points of view.

Have you read this trilogy? What did you think?

Thanks for reading!

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!